The year was 1967. On the world stage, China had just announced the explosion of its first hydrogen bomb, prompting the U.S. to deepen its resolve in Vietnam. Scientists had discovered that protons and neutrons were composed of ‘quarks,’ as doctors in South Africa performed the first human heart transplant. In the entertainment industry, The Beatles were releasing Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, while The Graduate was premiering on movie screens. And on the sports page, you’d have read about Billy Jean King winning the women’s top honors at Wimbledon -- and the Green Bay Packers’ triumph at the first-ever Super Bowl.
Meanwhile, in city of Syracuse, located in upstate New York, two RF engineers from General Electric named Hugh A. Hair and Carl W. Gerst set off to make some history of their own -- founding Anaren Microwave, Inc., a company focused on leveraging the potential of a newly developed and patented circuit-etching technology called ‘stripline’ manufacturing.
Starting out with a few dozen employees in a small facility, Anaren’s first customers were many of the defense primes whose names continue to dominate the sector, including Hughes, Litton (now part of Northrup Grumman), and Raytheon. Assignments during the early years capitalized on Anaren’s competency with designing high-power, high-frequency, and highly complex RF and microwave systems, including projects as diverse as:
- a microwave landing system (MLS) for jetliners funded by the U.S. DOD under FAA supervision
- "wideband microwave tracking receivers" for use in direction-finding systems
- our first DFD (digital frequency discriminators) and ESM (electronic support measures) to help fighter jets and seaborne vessels detect, identify, and elude the radar signals of hostile craft
Over time, our highly customized solutions became commercialized 'catalog' products that the company could market on a larger, high-volume scale. The arms race propelled the lion's share of new business. And, by 1981, Anaren had grown to roughly 200 employees, achieved sales of over $8,000,000, and required more space -- leading to the construction of the company's 80,000 sq. ft. beautiful current headquarters campus in East Syracuse.
Throughout the 80s, Anaren continued to expand its defense business – reaching defense-related sales of $24,000,000 in 1989. Then, with what proved to be the conclusion of Cold War following the Reagan administration (1981-89), defense spending decreased markedly – compelling Anaren to quickly diversify.
Enter the ‘wireless era’ of Anaren’s history, wherein our proven ‘stripline’ manufacturing took an interesting and innovative twist: When stacked in multiple layers separated by non-conductive Teflon, we were able to achieve order-of-magnitude reductions in component sizes, eliminate unwieldy RF connectors and inter-connects used industry wide, and even forego the heavy outer cases traditionally used in the industry.
In the mid-90s, the resulting technology got us a ‘seat’ on board the Iridium commercial satellite-based telecommunications network – due to its reduced size, light-weight composition, and excellent performance. Closer to earth, Anaren’s multilayer approach also revolutionized several products within the passive components industry – including hybrid couplers, directional couplers, and power dividers used in base station equipment; branded with now famous Xinger® name, these components quickly established Anaren as a market leader – and as a result, nearly half of our sales derived from products aimed at the wireless infrastructure market.
Which brings us to our most recent years and accomplishments. Chief among them, Anaren has continued to push its multilayer technology to previously unimaginable levels. In 2004, we began to introduce a next generation of Xinger-brand components that have effectively ‘halved’ the footprints of our previous Xinger products, further extending and protecting our lead in the market. As exciting, our passive components have now become small enough to secure positions beyond base stations: Measuring as small as .04 x .04", these new components are finding their way into consumer devices such as cell phones, PDAs, wireless laptops, WLANS, Bluetooth applications, and more – offering us an addressable market and high-volume opportunities several times larger than the volume of base stations deployed worldwide (itself still a very formidable, fast-growing, and profitable market).
In addition, the years since 2000 have seen these milestones:
- At the turn of the new millennium, Anaren acquired Long Island-based RF Power and North Andover, MA-based Amitron. (Both entities have since consolidated as Anaren Ceramics, Inc in a new plant in Salem, New Hampshire.) These two strategic acquisitions afforded Anaren a foothold in the very compatible resistive-product business and added ceramics expertise and products to our technology portfolio. Beyond securing more ‘content’ per base station in the wireless segment, ceramics technologies such as Low Temperature Co-fired Ceramics (LTCC) have since expanded our opportunities in medical, optical, automotive, aerospace, and other addressable markets.
- In 2002, Anaren established an all-new plant in Suzhou, China in order to conduct business on a ‘local’ basis with several major Asian wireless OEMs – and to strike vital cost-efficiencies in manufacturing and materials procurement. The plant has quickly grown quickly in both size, staffing, and technical capabilities.
- In addition to manufacturing facilities, Anaren has grown its global reach in terms of service. On the new business and technical support front, we boast technical sales offices (in East Cost, U.S., West Coast, U.S., UK, China,) and alliances with strategic sales representatives enable us to service new and existing customers the world over. From a stocking standpoint, Anaren relies on both direct shipments and, increasingly, on our world-class distributor partners.
- 2006 saw Anaren surpass $100 million in annual sales – a goal our founders set for themselves, way back in 1967. Exciting and stable, innovative and vibrant, today’s Anaren is testimony to the hard work and bright ideas of hundreds of valued employees through the years.
- In August-September 2008, Anaren announced the strategic acquisition of two companies whose technology portfolios enhance our own: Syracuse-based MS Kennedy and Littleton, Colorado-based Unicircuit, Inc. Each of them bringing to Anaren approximately 140+ employees and annual sales of $18+ million, MSK and Unicircuit were added to our Space & Defense Group, where their shared experience with the defense and aerospace sector -- and unique-yet-complementary technology -- expanded our value to customers and opportunities for new business.
- Most recently, and as part of Texas Instruments Design Network, Anaren launched its innovative Anaren Integrate Radio module line -- offering eOEMs a refreshingly easy way to take a product wireless.
With dynamic growth in all of the sectors we call home – from space and defense, to wireless infrastructure and consumer devices, to the medical and broadcast sectors – our future is every bit as bright as our heritage is rich!