The year was 1967. On the world stage, China had just announced the explosion of its first hydrogen bomb, prompting the United States to deepen its resolve in Vietnam. Scientists had discovered that protons and neutrons were composed of quarks, and 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 Super Bowl.
Meanwhile, in the 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. Together they founded Anaren Microwave, Inc., a company focused on leveraging the potential of a newly developed and patented circuit-etching technology called stripline manufacturing.
Anaren Founders Carl Gerst (left) and Hugh Hair
Starting out with a few dozen employees in a small facility, Anaren’s first customers were many of the prime defense contractors 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 United States Department of Defense under FAA supervision
- Wideband microwave tracking receivers for use in military frigates
- Anaren's first digital frequency discriminators and electronic support measures systems to help fighter jets and seaborne vessels detect, identify, and elude the radar guided missiles from hostile crafts
Over time, our highly customized solutions became commercialized 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 approaching $10M, and required more space. This lead to the construction of the company's 80,000 sq. ft. beautiful current headquarters campus in East Syracuse, NY.
EXPANSION IN THE 1980s
Throughout the 1980s, Anaren continued to expand its defense business, reaching defense-related sales of $24,000,000 in 1989. However, with what proved to be the conclusion of the Cold War following the Reagan administration (1981-89), defense spending decreased markedly, compelling Anaren to increase diversification.
This gave way for Anaren to expand its now very diverse portfolio, starting with its entrance into the commercial wireless sector, 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 helped advance the Iridium commercial satellite-based telecommunications network, due to its reduced size, lightweight composition, and excellent performance. Anaren’s multi-layer approach also revolutionized several products within the passive components industry, including hybrid couplers, directional couplers, and power dividers used in cellular telephone base station equipment. Branded today with the 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.
Through the Millennium
Through the new millennium, 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 decreased the footprint size of our previous Xinger products in half, further extending and protecting our lead in the market. Our passive components have now become small enough to secure positions beyond base stations, measuring as small as .04" x .04"; these components are found in consumer devices such as cell phones, laptops, WLANS, Bluetooth applications and more. This offers significant market and high-volume opportunities several times larger than the volume of base stations deployed worldwide. While base stations also remain a very formidable, fast-growing, and profitable market.
In addition, the years since 2000 have seen several significant milestones:
- In 2000, Anaren acquired Long Island-based RF Power and North Andover, MA-based Amitron. 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. Both entities have since consolidated as the Anaren Ceramics subsidiary, based in Salem, New Hampshire.
- In 2002, Anaren established a state-of-the-art facility in Suzhou, China in order to conduct business on a local basis with several major Asian wireless manufacturers, 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 across the world. From a stocking standpoint, Anaren relies on both direct shipments and, increasingly, on our excellent distributor partners.
- 2006 saw Anaren surpass $100 million in annual sales, a goal our founders set for themselves in 1967. Exciting and stable, innovative and vibrant, 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 enhanced our own: Syracuse-based MS Kennedy and Littleton, CO-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 and Defense Group, where their shared experience with the defense and aerospace sectors and unique complementary technologies expanded our value to customers and opportunities for new business.
- In 2010, as part of Texas Instruments' Design Network, Anaren launched its innovative Anaren Integrate Radio (AIR) module line -- offering OEMs a refreshingly easy way to enable wireless connectivity for products.
- On February 18, 2014, Anaren was officially acquired by a controlled affiliate of The Veritas Capital Fund IV, L.P. ("Veritas Capital"), a private equity investment firm based in New York, NY.
Anaren Today and Tomorrow
In 2017, Anaren celebrated its 50th year in manufacturing and in May 2018 was acquired by TTM Technologies. This acquisition combines TTM’s strength in PCB manufacturing with Anaren’s radio frequency (“RF”) design capability and a product portfolio of unique and proprietary RF components and subsystems for the Aerospace & Defense and Networking/Communication end markets. The combined company will be strongly positioned to benefit from the expected increase in spending for advanced radar technology in the Aerospace & Defense market and 5G technology in the wireless infrastructure market.