Industry Spotlight

Belden acquires, may close NORCOM; Tester maker Independent Technologies acquires and moves MetroTel; Linsang to manufacture 3SAE's optical-fiber solution

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Compiled by Brian Milligan

Belden acquires, may close NORCOM

Belden Inc. (www.belden.com), a cable manufacturer which recently acquired CDT's NORCOM wire and cable business, may now close the operation so that it can begin selling to its Canadian customers.

The NORCOM operation is based in Kingston, Ontario. NORCOM is a division of NORDX/CDT, a Canadian subsidiary of CDT. Belden, based in St. Louis, MO, purchased the accounts receivable, inventory, and equipment, and will assume the accounts payable and certain other current liabilities for approximately $11.3 million.

When the purchase was complete, in late October, Belden representatives informed the employees of the Kingston plant that it would reduce the workforce by probably 100 people immediately, and that it may eventually close the plant.

"If we don't close it down," says Dee Johnson, Belden director of investor relations, "we'll make products for all various customers, but look at places for reduction."

The Kingston plant, which employs about 300 people, manufactures wire and cable products for the communications industry. Customers of the plant include Bell Canada and other communications service providers and distributors in Canada and the United States—all customers that Belden would now like to absorb.

"This will increase our market share and give us access to customers like Bell Canada and some distribution customers where NORCOM has all the strengths," says Johnson.

Demand for the Kingston plant's products has fallen by half from a year ago. NORCOM had revenues of approximately $50 million in the last 12 months, down from $100 million in the prior year. "The main thing is the level of demand from telecom customers for copper cable," says Johnson. "The demand for copper cable is below the maintenance level right now—they are deliberately under-spending for a variety of reasons."

Johnson says by closing the NORCOM operation, Belden could effectively close a money-losing venture while opening a new avenue to NORCOM's customers. "This acquisition strengthens our presence in the North American market and further positions Belden to benefit when our communications customers resume a more customary level of spending for their vast installed copper network," agrees Belden's president, C. Baker Cunningham.

Fred Kuznik, CDT's CEOP, says the cash received from the sale will be used to reduce bank debt and other liabilities.


How the deal is shaping up

  • Belden purchased NORCOM's accounts receivable, inventory, and equipment and will assume the accounts payable and certain other current liabilities, for approximately $11.3 million.
  • When the purchase was complete, Belden representatives informed the employees of the Kingston plant that it will reduce the workforce by probably 100 people immediately, and that it may close the plant.
  • Belden's market share will increase and give it access to customers like Bell Canada and some distribution customers where NORCOM has had strengths.


Tester maker Independent Technologies acquires and moves MetroTel

Cable test equipment manufacturer Independent Technologies (www.independenttech.com) has acquired test equipment maker MetroTel Corp. of California and will move the operation to Minnesota.

Independent Technologies, based in Omaha, NE, is a voice and data communications research and development company. It designs, manufactures and markets a wide range of customized communications products, including continuity testers for copper and coaxial cable.

"We continue to put out their products under their name," says Dick Spear, marketing manager for Independent Technologies. "Both identities will remain."

Originally based in Milpitas, CA, MetroTel moved to Omaha in August, and will now be located in New London, MN where it will be known as MetroTel of Minnesota. MetroTel manufactures test sets, power supplies, autodialers, call processors and frequency locators for both inside and outside plant applications. Before the acquisition, MetroTel had outsourced its manufacturing. The roughly 10 sales employees were given the chance to relocate to Minnesota, but all declined.

"We have a good sized research and development group intact. And even with the downsizing of the industry, we are keeping the sales group and the engineering group intact," says Daryl Ingalsbe, president of Independent Technologies.

Ingalsbe says Independent Technologies plans to reengineer and upgrade some of MetroTel's products. The company will, for example, overhaul Cable Hound, a MetroTel underground cable locator. Meanwhile, MetroTel will unveil two new technician test sets—the Rhino and Checkmate products.

In recent years, Independent Technologies has acquired the Minnesota-based Berry Test Sets, the Melbourne, FL-based Wintel, and the Fargo, ND-based Scheyenne Dakota Inc.


Linsang to manufacture 3SAE's optical-fiber solution

Linsang Manufacturing Inc. (LMI) of Beltsville, MD will be the exclusive contract manufacturer of 3SAE Technologies, Inc.'s (www.3sae.com) automated optical-fiber solutions through 2004.

Representatives from 3SAE Technologies say the LMI team will enhance 3SAE's capabilities with highly skilled, in-depth experience in engineering, product development and new product introduction. Through the partnership, LMI will also provide turnkey volume manufacturing, integration and test, networking, and other professional services.

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3SAE's product solutions include an automated optical-fiber preparation unit, the AutoPrep. It is designed for automated industrial fiber splicing, and can strip, clean, and cleave an optical fiber within a 9-second cycle time.
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3SAE's product solutions include an automated optical-fiber preparation unit, the AutoPrep. It is designed for automated industrial fiber splicing applications, and can strip, clean and cleave an optical fiber within a 9-second cycle time. The AutoPrep is designed to be a cost-effective alternative to today's large, high dollar, fully automated platform systems.

Steve Valle, senior vice president of sales and marketing for the Boston-based 3SAE Technologies, says the system is designed to help quicken the fiber preparation process while the installer is working in the field. "If you were working in an outside plant environment, this would let you have much more control over the preparation of fiber," says Valle.

"It yields a fiber that is intrinsically clean and strong," says Robert Wiley, vice president of research and development for 3SAE Technologies. The company decided to outsource the manufacturing, Wiley says, when it could not achieve the level of quality it was seeking through in-house manufacturing.

LMI provides value-added electronics manufacturing, design, and post-production services. Its services include design and prototyping, complex printed circuit board assembly, electro-mechanical subassembly, system assembly and integration, test, and installation.


Correction

In our August issue ("Project manager recalls NYC installations following Sept. 11," page 58), we mistakenly identified Brett Smith as a project manager for Forest Electric at the time of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. Smith joined Forest Electric as a technician following the attacks.

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