As an RF manufacturer, there are few scenarios worse than going through an NAB convention amid a torrent of rumors that your company is going out of business, or at the very least, your division is seriously for sale. You might imagine in that atmosphere that sales would plummet, employees would be locked up in clandestine meetings with prospective employers, and the booth would be deserted.
Five months ago at the NAB show, ADC was the center of such rumors. What we know now is that ADC had decided to sell its Broadcast Systems Division. What we didn't know then was that there would be many suitors, sales wouldn't nose-dive, and that employees would be bullish about their division, no matter who won the bidding war.
Before NAB, ADC was a leading manufacturer of television transmission equipment, namely TV transmitters, and was poised to grab the DTV conversion brass ring and the record sales that would come with it.
If ADC's TV transmitter division had been sold off and dismantled, it would have meant that many stations would go to the back of the line with other manufacturers, virtually assuring that they would never meet the May 2000 deadline.
Even after the rumors surfaced, ADC's transmitter booth visitors were lined up three and four deep, waiting for sales people to explain ADC's transmitter choices. Following the show, interest in the company's transmitters prevailed. Rich Schwartz, director of Marketing for the Broadcast Systems Division, recalled, "Sales never did fall off. In fact, we're now in a period of record-setting sales."
Back in 1982, three engineers from RCA founded the ITS (Information Transmission Systems) Corporation to build low power transmitters, retrofit exciters for RCA transmitters, and MMDS equipment. In 1996, ITS became part of the Broadband Wireless Group of ADC Telecommunications, and broadened its product offerings to eventually extend to its customers one of the most comprehensive lines of television transmitters in the industry.
On September 1, 2001, it was officially announced that the Broadband Wireless Group had been acquired by Platinum Equity, one of the country's largest and fastest-growing private firms. Platinum specializes in the acquisition and operation of technology companies. It has a multi-billion dollar revenue base, and an established infrastructure in North America, Europe, Asia, and South America, with a work force of more than 10,000 employees.
New Name, Same Attitude
Dave Neff, Axcera's president and CEO, and his staff pushed many names arund the table before finally settling on Axcera. "We were searching for something that would be distinctive and different," noted Neff. "We also wanted a name that addressed where the company was heading. Axcera translates to ŒAccessing the New Era of Digital Communications.'"
Despite the new name, Neff was quick to point out that some things haven't changed. "Our staff is the same, and Platinum appreciates how important they are for moving ahead. As for the customer's vote of confidence, it made us proud," he explained, "that our customers stuck with us. They told us that whoever acquired the company, they were certain it would be a positive outcome. Still, it surprised us that we didn't miss a beat during that period of uncertainty."
But even since its earliest days, the management core has consistently told customers, "We won't let you fail now or in the future." That mandate was buoyed by an insistence that the buyer has to be satisfied. "We have a deep competency in RF, from components to units," insisted Neff, "but this industry places a higher value on people, relationships, trust, and respect."
Without a healthy Axcera, the DTV transition ramp-up would have been slowed considerably. But even with Axcera and other manufacturers churning out TV transmitters in record numbers, if every station still facing the transition placed a firm order today, some stations would still be late crossing the May 2002 finish line.
For more information, call Richard Schwartz at (724) 941-1500