Dayton Update: Unveiling the new Alpha / Dishtronix Assembly Facility.
It is time finally for an update of what has been happening in Ohio. In addition to the pandemic, the last several years have been tumultuous to say the least. With the acquisition of TenTec, Dishtronix had outgrown our West Liberty facility. We had been searching for a larger building that we could afford to purchase forever it seemed. Commercial real estate is just insanely priced. It seems the price tag starts at a half million for a fixer upper. Finally this building in Dayton became available at the right price. Unfortunately it needed a lot of work as there was extensive water damage from a failed roof. There were some legal encumbrances to be sorted out and although we started the process in October of 2018 we actually did not get possession until February 2019. There are some business experts who advise that a business property should be rented. It might make sense for a boutique store, but a manufacturing facility has big and heavy machinery that you don’t want to move. It costs money to have big transformers and heavy cables supplying lots of three phase power throughout the facility and when you move in a place YOU pay for that, not the land lord. Additionally, electronics manufacturing has highly specialized facility requirements, one of which is antistatic flooring. Would you put in a fifty thousand or hundred thousand flooring system in a facility you didn’t own? Landlords, just like anyone else can destroy your business when the lease expires. Believe it or not, Alpha was actually forced to move!
Right before the pandemic started the landlord in Colorado terminated the Alpha lease stating he needed the space for a bigger client! Alpha had put a lot of money into that space too with heavy electric and offices that reverted back to the landlord! The pandemic actually was a little beneficial to us in one way because that bigger client’s additional business slowed way down and the land lord let us continue on a month to month basis. The bad news was of course we were paying rent on an empty facility that was doing nothing since the Colorado governor closed most businesses. After the ban on business was lifted, most people didn’t want to return to work in that facility because of contamination and lack of isolation to other people in the building. So Alpha Colorado pretty much sat empty ever since. Starting last summer, that other business started picking up and they became desirous of the Alpha space again. Fortunately Dayton was almost finished, and we had been out to Colorado several times to sort things and pack things. It ended up taking over a half dozen trips with the 5 ton GMC and trailer, and over nine weeks of time traveling to and from Colorado as well as time working there. Everything now is finally in Ohio, but with a small complication of needing a bigger stock room! We are almost fully operational and will complete our flooring projects (ESD tile in the new stockroom, and Epoxy in the sheet metal shop), and then we can unpack everything fully and continue on with normal operations. We will finish all this in the first quarter. We even have a robotic bending cell lined up for the sheet metal shop and are actively shopping for a good used CNC rotary turret punch to manufacture sheet metal in-house as TenTec used to do. Vertical integration is the key to survival in a post China virus world! Everyone now sees what a foolish mistake it was to outsource everything!
It is going to take a little more time until we return to full operation, but the end is within site. My first objective once we get the stockroom unpacked, sorted and operational is to ship all of the parts orders that we have. Even though the web store was closed, somehow some people have found a way to order stuff. So we will fulfill those things first.
Right now, I’ve been going through all the manufacturing documentation and identifying key inventory parts so we can manufacture a run of 9500 and 8410/06. I’ve got the circuit board stuff all sorted and will have most of the parts needed at the end of the month. There are a few parts that won’t be available until the end of March so some orders won’t ship until then. We expect to be shipping amplifiers regularly in second quarter 2022.
Automated Surface Mount Assembly Line Area with ESD conductive flooring throughout.
Front View of Box Build Area, aka “The Big Room” ESD conductive flooring throughout. This is where final assembly of amplifiers and radios takes place. We also do through hole assembly here. The double doors connect to Pick and Place room. Side doors connect to offices and labs
The Electronics Lab with ESD Static dissipative flooring throughout.
The Big Move from Colorado:
For those who are interested, here are some photos recording what we had to deal with in the new building.
Just cleaning it up took several months. All of the building sheathing between brick and stud had to be chipped out and removed. It takes time and money to do the job right. We know about that at Alpha and Ten Tec.
We hired a guy to come in with a truck mounted, diesel powered heated industrial pressure washer. He spent two days blasting the building. After that we rented two 300,000 BTU heaters with 200 gallon tanks and ran it on full blast for a week and a half in June. It was so hot inside the water was boiling in the pipes. That killed EVERYTHING in the building. After that we fogged with anti-fungal anti-microbial compounds and also sprayed all the contact surfaces Then we sanded and painted any steel structure that needed touching up. Somewhere in this sequence of events a professional installer put on a new, one piece TPO membrane roof from Mule-Hyde over our prep work. We chose the professional installer because we received a 30 year warranty from Mule-Hyde. There are minimum intrusions through the membrane and no one is allowed on the roof! We put an extra three inches of polyisocyanurate foam with foil bat on at the same time. She stays cool in the summer and reasonably warm in winter. We would like to thank the folks at ABC roofing on Troy Pike for their superb service and patience, and for putting us in touch with Ted Dillon who did the install.
Some interior partitions were done with drywall. All outside walls were sheathed with Hardie Panel, a cement outdoor siding product. These walls will never mold and should be good for at least 50 -100 years. We build things that last. As good as possible, no holds barred is our company policy. Rest assured your amplifier or radio is made just as well.
After the ceilings were put in with high efficiency LED lighting, the ESD floor tile was laid a half room at a time. After curing, the machines were moved on the tile so the other side of the room could be done. This took several weekends.
Here the sheet metal shop walls are installed (Hardie Panel of course). The floors were ground down with a diamond blade and will be ground again before it is epoxied. The new stockroom wall is at the front. Also Hardie Panel.