1. You’ve only been known as Spectrum Control for a little over a year, but the roots of the company go back 70 years. What can you tell our readers about the company, its technology heritage and the evolution of Spectrum Control?

Spectrum Control is rooted in the beginning of the U.S. electronics industry, as an offshoot of Erie Resistor. Since its inception, the company has been about filter technology. It was an integral part of the revolutionary period in electronics, from World War II through the semiconductor era. The company was instrumental in the war effort, not only in the U.S. but also in the U.K., as it had a location in Great Yarmouth, England, that we still operate today. 

2. You are somewhat new to the company, but you joined when it was APITech. What attracted you to the company and what has you excited about the direction of Spectrum Control?

Spectrum Control produces RF component solutions in high volume, which is rare to see in the military and aerospace market. Our market position is unique because our critical components are used continuously in defense systems. I wanted to impact the digital transformation of RF from the perspective of volume, essentially at the component level. Having spent a career on digital transformation, I knew the component world was the last and probably most important frontier in this journey from digitization to miniaturization.

3. Your CEO talks about “building a new kind of RF company” and he’s been clear about his vision. What does that mean from the technology standpoint? What’s your vision for how technology will support this vision?

My background is primarily in computer and systems engineering, where signals were already bits on- and off-platform.   I’ve now spent a third of my career in RF, because the threat starts in the analog world. I had recognized the opportunity for digital transformation in RF systems but couldn’t achieve it at other companies because of two common roadblocks. One was cultural; analog and digital engineering teams were disparate factions. I wanted to create an environment where the two groups were integrated. I also wanted to approach the digital world from the analog side of the equation. The analog world remains the most important frontier in delivering on the promise of turning sensing into information and information into mission effects.

Spectrum Control offered me the opportunity to remove those hurdles, with the added benefit of an engineering force with extensive expertise in filtering. We were able to create an RF-centric digital team that provides digital enablement to many products. It allows for much faster and simpler integration than ever before.

4. Can you describe Spectrum Control’s product portfolio and market focus? Our readers may think of Spectrum Control as strictly a defense company, but you offer products aimed at a variety of commercial market applications.

Controlling the spectrum is now a universal problem; it’s not just a defense issue. Our core focus is on developing filtering solutions for all segments of electronic warfare (EW), such as signal intelligence and gathering and radar. In the commercial world, our concentration is on the communications market, as well as industrial sensing and manufacturing. Test and measurement is another segment. Because we have robust manufacturing capabilities, we can also provide specialty manufacturing services to companies. We develop filter-based solutions to address interference issues in all these markets. 

5. What are the core competencies and technologies that differentiate you from your competitors?

Filtering is the core competency of Spectrum Control, from discrete components and integrated assemblies to systems. It allows us to rethink how to shrink filtering technology. This competency, coupled with our U.S. manufacturing facilities, makes us exceptional at miniaturization. Our SCi Blocks are a result of our innovative approach; they are very small so they can be embedded into other devices. 

6. Numerous very recognizable RF companies, along with many locations are now under the Spectrum Control umbrella. From the technical standpoint, what challenges and synergies does this structure present?

It is a benefit to have such strong brands to introduce our technology, but we do have to make fundamental decisions as to what functions and products from those companies can be integrated. We also have to determine the rate at which we integrate. 

We had to evaluate personnel and the reporting hierarchy, as well. When I arrived, Spectrum Control had a semi-integrated workforce. We now have fully integrated engineering so we are best prepared to address the brave new world of digital transformation. One key was to establish horizontal teams in different areas of Spectrum Control, such as digital, manufacturing and test. It has allowed for better integration and operation for more efficient growth. 

7. Increasingly, digital functions are being integrated with RF functions and you are addressing this with your SCI Block products. Can you tell our readers a bit about those products and how you see that effort evolving in the future?

SCi Blocks are the first solutions based on our RF+Digital approach that focuses on converting high fidelity RF signals to digital bits. RF+Digital building blocks solve sensor-to-data problems our war fighters are facing today in real-time, on platform and forward deployed at the edge of the tactical network. Our RF+Digital approach is a very unique approach.

Currently, SCI Blocks are designed as system in package chips (RF SiPs), wideband Tx/Rx tuner mezzanines (sticks) and wideband Tx/Rx tuner modules. The lower levels of the architecture are designed to be used standalone and to readily integrate into the higher levels. The next generation will be fully customized solutions for specific project specifications.

8. How do you see your product and market mix changing in the next five years? Where is your development focus? 

In the late 1990s everyone was chasing form factors down. Digital miniaturization was the driver. That is the defining thread of the technology industry for the next five years. Miniaturization has to be a core focus. By achieving high fidelity in a smaller footprint, more space is available for digital functions. The result is greater configurability, more design flexibility and significant cost efficiencies.   

How we achieve it is key because digital alone cannot enable constant reduction. As a components company with advanced filtering technology, we can drive miniaturization and invest in digital infrastructure of integration up front to ride that curve faster than anyone else. 

9. How would you describe the culture at Spectrum Control? What do you want your customers and employees to think of when they think of this “new kind of RF company”? How does the company reinforce those ideas?

Our CEO Rich Sorelle deserves the credit. He understands that to create a great company, a cascading leadership culture has to be established. It allows critical decision-making to flow left to right in the organization rather than a conventional up and down hierarchy. Issues are solved more quickly, as a result. 

Rich also believes that the company’s long and rich heritage needs to be celebrated. He used our history as a tool to build a great culture. When people understand the company legacy, they are committed to doing their part to continue it. 

10. What else would you like our readers to know about Spectrum Control?

Spectrum Control is taking on the preconceived notions of the digital world. By doing so, we are removing the artificial analog-digital boundaries, not only in the culture of companies but in products and solutions, as well. We are taking on that responsibility so our customers can focus on their core competencies.