Companies change hands, celebrate milestones
Roger and Gayle Block, founders of PolyPhaser, Minden, NV, and Jack Reichler, founder of Meridian Communications, Calabasas, CA, have sold their businesses. These names were part of the industry when Mobile Radio Technology began publishing in 1983. Another well-known company, E. F. Johnson, is changing hands, and Decibel Products marks 50 years in business.
PolyPhaser As I remember Roger telling the story about a dozen years ago, Gayle and he started their business in Kissimee, FL, near where they had worked at Disney World. As an electrical engineer, Roger developed some devices to protect equipment after he saw the effects of lightning damage on electronics at the theme park. Gayle and he formed a company to manufacture lightning protection products, later moving it to Nevada where lower humidity resolved some manufacturing problems.
Mostly during the 1980s, Roger wrote articles for various publications. We’ve published 14 of his articles, and his writings on the subject remain popular. His articles helped to establish our magazine as a source of technical information about commercial radio communications. These days, publications available directly from PolyPhaser contain his most up-to-date work.
Roger and Gayle remain with PolyPhaser as it finishes 18 years under their ownership and as it begins a new period of growth as part of Smiths Industries, London. John Cole, who was named president of PolyPhaser in 1996, continues in that role.
Meridian Meridian Communications, which develops and manages antenna sites in Southern California, has been purchased by American Tower Systems. Jack Reichler founded Meridian 41 years ago with his first antenna site atop the Hollywood Hills. On June 19 of this year, the company staff honored Jack by renaming and dedicating the Meridian site at Saddle Peak as the “E. Jack Reichler Telecommunications Facility.” The highlight of the ceremony was the unveiling of a bronze plaque, formally renaming the 1,200-square-foot shelter and 150-foot self-supporting antenna tower.
Jack saw Meridian grow from its initial site in 1956 to a company with more than 85 sites today. Saddle Peak is a favorite of Jack’s. “I’m particularly happy that it will be at Saddle Peak,” he said, speaking of the renamed facility, “since I will be able to look up at the mountains and see it from my home.”
Johnson One more transition to note: E. F. Johnson, Burnsville, MN, has signed a letter of intent under which it is set to be acquired by Transcrypt International, Lincoln, NE, on or about Aug. 1. Founded in 1923 by Edgar F. Johnson in Waseca, MN, Johnson has had its turn with amateur radio, electronic components, citizens band, conventional land mobile radio, remote meter reading, telemetry and trunked radio.
Western Union purchased Johnson for $60 million in 1982, primarily for its cellular capability. Diversified Energy bought the company for $30 million in 1985, primarily for its remote meter reading capability. Diversified merged with Arkla in 1990, and in 1992, investors William Weksel and Robert Davies bought the company for an undisclosed amount estimated between $30 million and $40 million. They sold the components and telemetry divisions, turning Johnson into a pure-play radio company.
Transcrypt, with which Johnson has done substantial business for the past five years, will pay $34 million for the company. The acquisition is expected to give Transcrypt more strength in competing for APCO 25 digital radio sales and better representation in foreign markets for its voice privacy and information security products.
Decibel Products Tracing its roots to a five-person electrical supply house founded in 1947, Decibel Products marks 50 years in business. “When Tom McMullen and Jerry Stover started the Communications Engineering Company (CECO), the typical wireless system was a lowband, two-way radio system,” said Peter Mailandt, Ph.D., president of the Decibel Products Division of Allen Telecom Group.
CECO’s first wireless product was a ground plane antenna made of aluminum, a relatively new material at the time. The company created an antenna manufacturing division, now known as Decibel Products. The division now makes nearly 5,000 antenna models. -Don Bishop