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The First Name in Microwave

Interview with John Croteau, CEO of M/A-COM Tech

March 20, 2013
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M/A-COM is one of the most established brands in our industry dating back to 1950 as Microwave Associates.  How is M/A-COM Technology Solutions carrying on that brand and legacy as the only entity left after the sell off to various companies?  

It is well documented that M/A-COM has gone through a number of corporate changes over the years. However, despite it all, M/A-COM has remained a well regarded brand for decades, and the core component of our success is the people.  M/A-COM has developed a reputation as a company of very smart people who are dedicated to helping customers solve their difficult problems, no matter how large or small.  When I visit customers, one of the first things they mention is how helpful our teams are in supporting their needs and helping them build their systems.  It is through years of hard work and success that we have been able to build and enhance this reputation.  Of course all our hard work is moot unless we have world-class product execution to back us up.  Producing high quality, reliable products such as diodes, power transistors, MMICs, etc. has also underpinned our ongoing success and overall M/A-COM brand and reputation.

Since coming on board last Oct, what primary short terms goals have you established and what progress has been made toward achieving them?

When I arrived, I quickly realized that for years we had been under-servicing our catalog standard products business.  Traditionally, this had been a strength for M/A-COM, and we are now working very hard to revitalize our six-decade-old product portfolio. We have increased R&D, and I believe this renewed focus on a historical core strength will allow us to better service the demands we are hearing from our customers. We pride ourselves in solving our customers’ most complex needs, and I believe that this stems from the excellent symbiotic relationships we’ve created over the years. We will continue to strengthen these customer ties which in turn will allows us to provide industry leading innovative solutions.

What do you see as the major growth markets/opportunities for M/A-COM Tech in the next year?

Our optoelectronics product line has shown great promise, and the investments we made in new product development are now paying off. This portfolio consists of our modulator drivers, transimpedance amplifiers and limiting amplifiers for 10, 40 and 100G applications. This diverse selection, as well as our excellent relationships with customers in this space, will allow us to see steady growth moving forward. We are also making great progress in the A&D market, especially within the MILCOM and Radar space. With our military customers we will always have the threat of sequestration, but I believe that our proprietary HMIC technology paired with our six-decade supplier status and internal fab capabilities position us very well to service these customers. We understand the profound value of situational awareness to each and every soldier on the battlefield and M/A-COM is continually looking for products and solutions that will provide them with the latest and greatest solutions. Within the Radar space, we believe our innovative GaN Smart Pallet Solution and HMIC Switches position us competitively for the upcoming air traffic control upgrades.
 

M/A-COM seemed a little late to the GaN party but has established some impressive products in radar and avionics area – can you talk about how you caught up so quickly and some of the technology used in your products?

In fact, we have had GaN products for a while.  While we were not the first on the GaN scene, we were able to catch up to and surpass some of our competitors.  We have been playing in the pulsed power market far longer than the existence of GaN and as a result, we have a wealth of application knowledge and experience that helps us commercialize GaN solutions that solve our customers’ real-world problems.  


M/A-COM has some advantages in the area of high performance plastic packaged GaN products – what do those advantages mean to your customers?

Our GaN in plastic products are an industry first – high performance products packaged in easy-to-use commercial, plastic packaging.  When designing a system, engineers take into consideration several very important variables, sometimes called “SWaP”. SWaP stands for size, weight, and power.  Our traditional GaN transistors are leading products, and satisfy the power needs of most customers.  However, our plastic GaN enables the same power in packages that are small and lightweight, making them much easier to design into high-density radar systems of tomorrow. 

What are your future plans in the area of GaN technology (that you can disclose)?

Without disclosing too much: Our plan is to lead the commercialization of GaN technology in the industry; and I believe we are well positioned to execute and deliver on our promises.

M/A-COM has a very wide range of product offerings, what are a few of the other major product types that will see major releases or significant growth over the next year?

It is true we have a wide range of product offerings, with 2700+ products across 38 product lines, servicing 6000+ customers globally. While most of those fall into our Standard catalog product category, the others are results of innovation from our team and collaborations with customers.

 Our optoelectronics business has seen substantial growth and the industry push towards “100G and Beyond” is exactly what we were hoping for. While customers search the market for solutions to these next generation applications, we will be well positioned to not only offer a broad portfolio to choose from, but also to guide and direct customers towards the specific solutions they need.

Additionally, the CATV/Broadband market is gearing up for the DOCSIS 3.1 deployment later this year. We have been anticipating this upgrade, and have invested resources over the past year to set us up to immediately service the industry with our front end ICs and MoCA filters and amplifiers.

Lastly, we are anticipating air traffic control radar upgrades and we are strongly positioned with our GaN Technology, our extensive GaN transistor portfolio and our HMIC High Power Switches. We are very proud of two innovations in particular: The first being our GaN Smart Pallet, that allows our customers to reduce their cycle time, optimize their system performance and reduce their bill of materials cost. The second is our family of HMIC switches, which use our very own patented HMIC technology to provide high performance protection circuitry to radar systems. These innovative products matched by our domestic manufacturing footprint positions us perfectly for these upcoming upgrades. 
 

What type of sales channels does M/A-COM Tech utilize as a global supplier?

M/A-COM uses a variety of sales channels to reach our customers.  We sell directly, through sales engineers who have a breadth of knowledge, about their customers, end markets, and our products.  This team works closely with large strategic accounts through every step of the sales process.  From design in on, our salespeople create strategic partnerships that allow our customers to succeed.  We also leverage the scope of distribution partners.  These partners are an essential part of our sales strategy, allowing us significantly more feet on the ground and more opportunity for mindshare in our customers.  Finally, we sell our products directly from our website; so that customers can quickly find the product they need and order it on the spot.  Our various channels all work in conjunction to get our products in the hands of the customers who need them, and into the minds and designs of customers who didn’t yet know that they needed them. 

What geographic areas offer the best growth opportunities for M/A-COM Tech and why?

Truthfully, we expect growth in each geographic region we play in; however each of those is driven by different opportunities and market conditions. Our commitment to solving our customers’ most difficult needs has given us a strong global recognition. For example, in the Asian market, we are well positioned for radar programs and Cable TV. Another example is our close collaboration with a commercial satellite deployment in Australia. A third would be the radar programs we have lined up in Brazil. We also continue to have a strong presence in Europe with many key customer accounts and projects already in motion. The list goes on, but what is key to understand is that if the macro-environment co-operates, M/A-COM is very well positioned to further strengthen its global presence.

What are your major long term goals for M/A-COM Tech?

I believe M/A-COM is well positioned with the right technologies, people, products and customers to outperform the industry as a whole. We have an excellent knowledge base and a high octane sales team which is always looking for ways to service the customer. Our engineering team has some of the most brilliant minds in the semiconductor universe, and they are working tirelessly to deliver new products. We will continue to work hand-in-hand with our customers so that we maintain our position of being the easiest in the business to work with. Everyone at the company is excited and energized to meet these goals, and the underlying message is that timely execution will get us there.

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