They're doing it again

All industries are ripe for merger and acquisition deals in a world that is ever-growing and ever-shrinking at the same time

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All industries are ripe for merger and acquisition deals in a world that is ever-growing and ever-shrinking at the same time.

A couple years ago, we on the staff at Cabling Installation & Maintenance wondered if our collective head was on a swivel, trying to keep track of the changes taking place in the field of LAN cable testing.

A refresher for those to whom it seems so long ago: The company that was Scope Communications became part of Hewlett-Packard, which later became Agilent Technologies. Textron purchased the company we knew as Datacom Technologies, and promptly changed its name to Datacom Textron. And the firm we knew as Wavetek merged with Wandel & Goltermann... which later merged with TTC... and the combined organization calls itself Acterna.

I reminisced about those merger-and-acquisition glory days recently when I got word of two similar business deals.

In this month's Industry Spotlight section (pg. 116), we give you information on the deal that brought fiber-optic tester maker Fotec into the Fluke Networks organization. And another deal, which you won't read about elsewhere in this issue, involves the outfit we used to call Wavetek. Ideal Industries has purchased the LAN testing unit of Acterna. I found out about that deal so recently that we didn't have time to squeeze it into any other part of this issue.

In fact, the only reason we're able to tell you about it here is because of how late I am completing this column. (With that in mind, I acknowledge my indebtedness to executive editor Steve Smith and production manager Cindy Chamberlin for their immense patience.)

So, some names may be changing in the testing arena. But in the case of Fluke Networks/Fotec at least, do not expect any immediate sales-channel changes. As far as Ideal goes, we expect to have significantly more information for you next month.

The years-old deals I referred to earlier really did not affect product names. Interested purchasers could still find the LANtek (or LT), LANcat, and WireScope product lines. Fluke's DSP series testers are not going anywhere. And I would be remiss if I did not give due mention to the Penta and OMNI product lines from Microtest, a company that has largely stayed out of the merger mania and continues to serve the marketplace with handheld products.

These business deals should not take any of us by complete surprise, especially these days. Airlines, petroleum companies, biotechnology firms ... it seems that all industries are ripe for merger and acquisition deals in a world that is ever-growing and ever-shrinking at the same time.

But you know what matters most to me when I'm the consumer-whether I'm boarding a 737, pumping 92-octane gasoline, or throwing back some pain reliever to cure the headache I have given myself? What matters to me most is how the product or service is meeting my needs at that moment. I don't want to wait at an airport gate for an extra 30 minutes because the airline I chose to use (which used to be two airlines just a few months ago) is having some trouble capitalizing on synergies. And if I am less than pleased with the extent to which my needs are met, my attitude toward the company probably will be greatly influenced by the manner in which that company responds to my concerns.

We expect testers to perform their functions, just like any other product we buy. So, the bottom line for professionals who rely on this equipment is not even, "What have you done for me lately?" Rather, it's, "What are you doing for me right now?"

To that end, I hope and trust that the immediate impact of these recent deals on users of the respective companies' products will be... virtually nothing.

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Patrick McLaughlin
Chief Editor
patrick@pennwell.com

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