CCK Automations Inc.

Leading innovation and prototyping through vertical integration
Written by: 
Matt Dodge
Produced by: 
Lance Pelletier

Based in Jacksonville, Illinois, CCK Automations Inc. is a leading electronic contract manufacturer specializing in custom electrical panels and printed circuit boards, providing customers across North America with innovative, high-quality electronic components and systems.

Boasting full circuit board manufacturing capabilities, along with overmolding, wiring and cable assemblies and injection molding, CCK’s strength lies in its ability to produced customized, turnkey assemblies to customers.

“We’re not just handed a print and printing a circuit board; we want to add a lot of value to it and provide customers with a completed project from the injection-molded housing to the cable assembly that needs to be plotted, tested and programmed,” says JJ Richardson, CEO of CCK.

CCK serves a range of clients across myriad industries, including oil and gas, agriculture, consumer electronics, industrial electronics, food and noninvasive medical equipment. The company’s extensive slate of in-house capabilities also makes CCK extremely well-suited for prototyping projects.

“Total manufacturing is one of our strengths,” says Richardson. “We’re very vertically integrated and do all our own engineering. That really sets us apart because I don’t know of any competitors in a seven-state area with injection molding, wiring and cable assembly, on-staff engineering and complete electrical contract manufacturing.”

CCK’s top-of-the-line 150,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Jacksonville is largely automated, allowing the company to integrate the newest technology into its manufacturing processes. “Automation and integration is one of our strongest points,” Richardson says. “We have lots of robots doing very technical skills that people would have handled in the past.”

Vital industry partnerships

Richardson started his career in the oil industry with Mobil before leaving to start his own electrical contracting company, Richardson Electric, in 1992 — a venture that would plant the seed for what would become CCK.

“As the owner of an electrical contracting company and an engineer, people would often come to me with problems and I would come up with solutions,” says Richardson. “A lot of these ended up being manufacturing solutions.”

Leveraging his growing reputation for engineering solutions for complex projects, Richardson founded CCK in 1999 with just four employees. The company has since grown to more than 100 employees at its Jacksonville facility. Richardson sold his electrical contracting company in April 2015 and then purchased an injection molding company 30 days later. CCK then moved the entire facility and its 15 employees to the Jacksonville location within two months. “We were fully operational just 90 days after the purchase in our Jacksonville location,” Richardson recounts.

Starting with a specialization in printed circuit board assemblies and electrical control panels, CCK has dramatically expanded its own in-house capabilities in recent years, including a tool and die shop staffed by a team of machinists. CCK had long subcontracted out all cable assembly work, but recently procured the automated equipment necessary to perform its own wire cable harnessing. The company has further catered to cable and harnessing customers with the recent addition of overmolding capabilities.

“It allows us to connect two cable assemblies to a printed circuit board and hermetically seal that printed circuit board into a rubberized enclosure without having to put it into an injection molding closure,” says Richardson.

The company is working with clients in the agricultural and chemical industries to manufacture gateway boxes that can communicate with iPads to help control 216 meters. “It’s a brand-new, patented technology that is going to put all of our customers lightyears ahead of the rest of the industry,” Richardson details.

Used in a range of taxing conditions, CCK’s products are known for their rugged industrial electronics. “We’re good at building electronics that can withstand very harsh environments like dirt, heat and water,” he notes.

An emphasis on trusted subcontractors

Working in a precision field like electronic contract manufacturing, CCK relies on a trusted network of subcontractors to ensure the highest possible quality and consistency. “It’s extremely important because these boards we build may have 400 or 500 parts per board and if one of those components is bad, that’s a bad board,” Richardson says.

While the recent economic downturn didn’t hit the electronic component manufacturing industry as hard as some others, the interconnected nature of today’s global marketplace did precipitate a trickle-down effect that saw CCK face some tough times.

“All industries have sub-industries tied to them,” says Richardson. “We thought we were diverse, but when oil and gas is down people aren’t doing pipeline work. When corn was down the food industry was affected, so that industry slowed down too. We went through a major downturn and it made us look with a magnifying glass at the business.”

Still CCK weathered the tough economic climate and came out the other end as a more diversified entity poised for further growth. It’s particularly heartening for Richardson, for whom the success of the company means the chance to continue doing what he loves.

“I love designing,” he says. “I love for a customer to walk in with a problem and make a really cool product they can sell. I tell them all the time that the more successful we make them, the more successful we can become.”

As CCK continues to grow, the company is looking to continue its recent spate of acquisitions to help the company become further vertically integrated. “We’re going to look for more of those types of opportunities in the future,” Richardson says.

Strong industry partnerships, a passion for innovative solutions and a tried-and-true brand name will keep CCK Automation Inc. at the top of its field as a premier electronic contract manufacturer specializing in custom electrical panels and printed circuit board assemblies. 

Strategic Partnership(s): 
HT Global Circuits