Can you describe APITech as a business and what its core capabilities are?
APITech is a technology-driven product and solutions provider for customers requiring high reliability signal conditioning and emissions protection in the RF and digital domains. We deliver ruggedized hardware and secure software for mission-critical applications in a broad range of markets including aerospace and defense, space, wireless & telecommunications, security, industrial, transportation and medical. Understanding our customers’ needs and delivering solutions to make them successful is at the core of all we do.
How has APITech grown and changed over the years?
Today, APITech operates as an integrated enterprise with a common vision and playbook. The organization we are today was built on decades of heritage dating back to 1953 and the integration of several innovative companies such as Spectrum Control/Microwave, Amplifonix, Inmet, C-MAC Microtechnology, Weinschel, EMCON and SST, just to name a few.
APITech’s scale allows us to effectively address talent development; provide a global sales reach; expand our digital footprint; make strategic investments in R&D; develop an effective supplier base; and leverage best-in-class business operating systems across 15 sites. The common thread was—and is today—customer centricity and courageous innovation. This “small company” culture of ownership and responsiveness has developed into a company of scale that operates with speed and accountability.
Given that APITech’s business consists of many varied business units that serve a range of applications within the RF/microwave, and adjacent, industries, what would you say are the major trends in SATCOM, defense, EMC/EMI, telecommunications and microelectronics?
Many of our ongoing efforts address the needs of our defense and military customers who are demanding higher power and higher frequency solutions that are scalable, lower SWAP and support ease of integration into their digital architectures. Space is also becoming an increasingly important element of our customers’ strategies. Many of our offerings are designed to reliably survive the harsh environment of space while meeting the elevated SWAP and affordability targets associated with larger constellations.
In the wireless and telecommunications market, 5G is changing the mobile landscape by adding a private network use category requiring higher frequencies and broader bandwidth solutions. Our TEMPEST certified solutions address the increasing market need for security of the cyberspace domain, data integrity and critical information technology infrastructure—reducing the threat of covert surveillance. These are just a few of the ways that APITech is addressing industry trends.
Follow-up: How is APITech positioning itself to take advantage of these trends?
APITech is increasing our focus on customer intimacy to understand their needs to better inform our technology and product investments. We are investing across our product portfolio, focusing on increased power and frequency, increasing bandwidths, EMI Noise filtering, digitization and miniaturization. In 2021 we will release our newest broadband amplifier for EW applications as well as a Ka-Band T/R module to add to our portfolio of X-, L-, S- and C-Band designs; and chip attenuators supporting mmWave frequencies.
For space applications, we are investing in digital beam forming, miniaturization of microelectronic assemblies and adapting high reliability solutions that can survive in space. As 5G is driving massive multi-in-multi-out (MIMO) and beamforming requirements to improve the user experience, our Weinschel products enable MIMO testing of 4G, 5G and Wi-Fi 6E radio access base station performance with phase and amplitude control. Also, our Electromagnetics Solutions business offers specialty EMI filtered connectors, including our new 5G d-sub connectors for use in testing 5G cellular hardware. In the Network Security domain, APITech is releasing our Netgard privileged gateway, which is a universal, secure remote access solution that allows enterprises to manage privileged user access to critical voice and data services.
What areas of APITech’s business are experiencing the most growth?
Growth is across the board with very few exceptions. In 2020, we saw significant growth in the U.S. defense, wireless, space and security markets. We did see some slowdown related to commercial aerospace applications and selected European defense programs that were delayed and are now on track for recovery in 2021.
How has the pandemic affected APITech’s business and day-to-day life of APITech’s staff?
In early 2020, APITech set the priorities of team member safety, site continuity and customer deliveries. We established a robust and evolving Continuity Plan led by a cross-functional task force with active participation from each of our 15 sites. Having worked, lived and traveled in Asia during swine flu, bird flu and SARS, I learned that taking care of the team first was the key to ultimately supporting customers and ensuring business continuity. The APITech team established protocols for employee adoption at each of our sites in addition to providing guidelines for working at home and travel, when required. Our team has rallied around the fact that everything we do supports the front-line heroes in healthcare, defense, communications, transportation and energy.
We have continued to hire for growth in engineering and sales during this period. I started as CEO of APITech in Q4 2019 and have brought on seven new members of the executive leadership team in 2020. We have focused on hiring and alignment of (a) the sales team to be closer to our customers and markets, (b) engineering to support technology and product development and (c) other functions to fuel growth and customer support.
Other than the pandemic, what challenges do you see the industry having to overcome to meet market demands for systems, devices and components?
Customers are demanding scalable solutions and shorter lead times, which we generally view as opportunities to support our customers more effectively. Anticipation of our customers’ needs early in the concept development phase permits the alignment that is so critical to providing our customers with rapid innovations.
APITech’s broad range of technologies and product portfolio allows us to leverage capabilities across our 15 sites to better and more rapidly support our customers. Recruiting talent continues to be a challenge across the industry even without the additional challenges posed by COVID-19. Therefore, we believe strongly in creating a culture that constantly drives technology innovation, employee development and customer focus.
Are there any new and innovative technologies coming from APITech?
New product development and technology innovation is a priority across APITech. The following is a peek at what we have recently released and are working on:
- 30 GHz Powerfilm chip attenuators offer best-in-class performance and size and are used in phase-matched antenna arrays, commercial wireless infrastructure and 5G mmWave applications
- High voltage chip capacitors for applications with high voltage requirements (typically > 700 VDC) that demonstrate lower leakage characteristics than typical surface mount filters
- Ka-Band transmit receive module, plus a new broadband electronic warfare amplifier
- Butler matrices and programmable attenuators that enable companies to test their 5G and Wi-Fi 6E devices, access points and coverage across all settings, making new product roll-out for our customers faster, better and cheaper
- Cryo attenuators used in quantum computing installations with lower thermal noise than incumbent technologies
- In 2021 we will be launching many more products such as an enhanced DC SmartStart™ power distribution unit for the military supporting up to 10 kW capacity in a 1U rack-powered setting and enhanced security protocols including SNMPV3, HTTPS and SSH
What about your background and career path led you to being the CEO of APITech?
My career has been focused on developing teams to serve customers and to create differentiated solutions and offerings on a global scale. Over the past three decades, I have had the honor and pleasure to build teams that have grown the base business and also developed the next generation of solutions for that industry. By enabling teams and uncovering unmet customer needs, we developed new materials, devices, services and software, all to drive customer success and growth.
I have lived in six different countries and have run global businesses from Asia, Europe and the Americas. This has enabled me to engage and appreciate various cultures and markets. Placing customers first and driving technology has allowed the teams I have led to grow both the business and their own careers.
How is the experience leading such a diverse high-technology business?
Simply stated, it has been exciting to engage with such a great team and continue to grow with development and new recruiting. I am excited about the leadership team we have built, including seasoned A&D and RF/microwave veterans along with functional leaders with best-in-class technical and industrial experience.
My ask of the team is to be the Electromagnetic Spectrum Innovator | Be the Value Generator | Be the Efficient Operator and Be the Talent Developer. In the last year, we have made significant progress in advancing the business and there are many examples of success in each category. There are many areas where we can improve. Our customers can expect that APITech will strive to improve every day.