Newtronics sets its sights on land mobile market share Despite his observation that the land mobile radio business has been flat, New-Tronics Antenna’s marketing manager, Larry Guyton, sees “growth potential without bound” for the Mineral Wells, TX, company’s Hustler brand antennas. Where does growth come from? “We’re taking business from other companies, such as Celwave, Decibel Products, Antenex and Maxrad,” he said.
With low overhead, plenty of capacity for expansion, no debt and an established brand, New-Tronics is poised to compete at the customer level as well as to offer private label manufacturing. Capturing market share, Guyton explained, is partly a matter “of being there when someone drops the ball. If they do that, I’ll get the business. I take pride in my own reliability as well as that of Hustler. Also, there still are a lot of personal relationships in the antenna business. I like that.”
Land mobile accounts for 60% of the company’s business and 70% of its profit. CB is a small portion, but along with AM radio antennas, “it’s where we began, so we like to stay in it,” Guyton said.
In 1997, New-Tronics sold its PCS antenna line to Racal, which previously had licensed the rights to its antenna designs to New-Tronics. Company owner and president Clyde Ford said that the profitability of the PCS antenna line was not unnoticed by Racal. “They decided that 100% of the profits would be better than royalty payments, so they bought back the line.”
Ford, with a background as an executive with Stromberg-Carlson and Radio Shack, formed Ford Manufacturing Co. in Mineral Wells in 1975 to make private label CB antennas for Midland International and others. He established New-Tronics Antenna Corp. in 1985 to purchase Hustler Inc. and the Hustler antenna line. (Until 1968, Hustler Inc.’s name had been Newtronics Corp.) Ford had seen the company advertised for sale in the Wall Street Journal. “‘Hustler’ was a better name before the magazine came out,” Ford mused. Guyton observed that, Hustler magazine aside, “Hustler” is a good name, “although it has some stigma from CB antennas. On the other hand, many commercial customers happen to be radio amateurs, and the goodwill from Hustler’s amateur radio antennas has a positive influence,” he said.
In 1992, New-Tronics began manufacturing its Spirit line of omnidirectional fiberglass base station antennas, which currently account for most of the revenue and profit in the company’s land mobile division. “The Spirit series is the backbone of our domestic land mobile market,” Guyton said. The antennas come in VHF, UHF, 800/900MHz, 1.2GHz and 1.4GHz models for two-way radio, trunking, repeater, cellular, paging and GSM applications. They are available in standard and heavy-duty configurations with gain figures from unity to 12dBd. “Much of New-Tronics’ future success will stem from the sales of Spirit products,” he said.
Guyton said that New-Tronics has introduced new UHF and VHF mobile antennas based on the NMO mount. The new models, LMB and LMG, are expected to generate sales equal to 30% of the base station antenna sales.
“They weigh more, they’re heavier-duty, the look better and they are less expensive” than competing antennas, Guyton said.
On a worldwide basis, the G-6 UHF omnidirectional and G-7 VHF omnidirectional base station antennas are the company’s best-sellers.
The company soon will introduce new cellular and lowband VHF antennas. Lowband VHF antennas? Why? “We’re getting calls for lowband VHF antennas,” Guyton said. “Apparently, the other frequencies are filling up, and people are taking another look at lowband.” Just in time for sunspots and the skip interference they bring.
“New-Tronics has a billion-dollar potential,” Guyton said. “It could be the next Decibel.”
The New-Tronics timeline: 1957: Newtronics Corp. is established as an AM mobile antenna-making subsidiary of Automatic Radio, which supplied car radios to the auto industry. 1961: Newtronics Corp. begins using “Hustler” as a trademark. In the early ’60s, the company introduces amateur radio antennas. By the late ’60s, CB antennas are introduced. 1978: Newtronics Corp. changes its name to Hustler Inc. 1979: Hustler Inc. moves from Cleveland to Kissimmee, FL. Company sales peak in excess of $30 million with the CB boom of the ’70s. In the ’80s, land mobile antennas are introduced. 1985: Clyde Ford forms New-Tronics Antenna Corp. to buy Hustler Inc. and relocates the company to Mineral Wells, TX, where his Ford Manufacturing Co. had been in the antenna business since its founding in 1975. The transaction re-establishes “New-Tronics” as the company name and continues “Hustler” as a trademark. 1988: New-Tronics moves about half of its assembly operations to Comales, Tampico, Mexico, where most of the mobile antennas are assembled. 1992: New-Tronics introduces its Spirit line of omnidirectional fiberglass base station antennas. 1995: Racal licenses New-Tronics to manufacture PCS antennas using Racal’s designs. 1997: Racal buys out New-Tronics’ license agreement and establishes its own manufacturing plant in Mineral Wells. New-Tronics introduces new NMO-mount VHF and UHF mobile antennas.
RedCell prepares to supply rechargeable batteries, chargers, accessories for various applications Quietly, a new North American company has spent the past two years readying a line of rechargeable batteries, battery chargers and accessories for various applications, including two-way radio transceivers. The company, RedCell, based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, debuted its products in January.
“People looking for two-way batteries want a ‘cheap fuel source,'” said Brent Meikle, the company’s vice president of product development. “That might involve premium, long-life batteries for companies that use battery management, or it might involve a low-price ‘value battery’ for companies too small to have a battery-care program. We offer both types of batteries, and both are priced below the competition.”
Unlike wireless phones and camcorders, which are consumer products, everyone who buys a two-way radio is spending money on operations, Meikle observed. In his opinion, the two-way radio battery market has attracted niche-market manufacturing with high prices.
“Yet, crack open a two-way radio battery, and you find the same thing as in cellular phone or video camera batteries: three or four D-cell or C-cell batteries. What RedCell is doing is developing a system for mass merchandisers, which can bring down the cost of operating two-way radios,” Meikle said.
RedCell uses welded flexport technology to cut costs. The method uses a flexible circuit board that allows direct welding and riveting to the battery pack, which reduces labor costs by 70%. Meikle listed the other advantages: “Less soldering. Eliminates wires, straps and harnesses. You get a cleaner battery that won’t short-circuit. No crushed wires or rattling from loose components and bad solder joints. It improves the battery and makes it less expensive.”
Meikle said users, dealers and distributors all have different requirements from a battery supplier.
“Users should talk with their dealer or distributor about their two-way radio working environment, battery-charging requirements, warranty and customer service satisfaction, and overall battery program cost, and then ask for a recommendation for reducing costs. If the dealer can’t help, then contact the original manufacturer of the battery,” Meikle said.
“Dealers should evaluate whether their manufacturers are supporting them in what they offer their customers. If they’re not satisfied, or if they’re curious, I’d like them to contact us to allow us to send some products or programs to evaluate. We want distributors to contact us and try our product, and the see the pricing and level of service they can get,” Meikle said. “We look at two-way as-outside of cellular-the only service-oriented product we will manufacture. We see a strong demand for two-way radio batteries into the next century.” To support two-way radio batteries, RedCell offers more than 200 types, as well as one-bay and six-bay charging systems that will charge NiCd, NiMH and Li-ion batteries.
RedCell is at #1, 115 – 28 Street SE, Calgary, Alberta T2A 4K4, Canada; Tel. 403-207-5612; www.redcell.com.
Dataradio Group acquires RNet line The Dataradio Group of companies has purchased the RNet synthesized fixed data products from Motorola. Dataradio, Atlanta, had previously been the sole distributor for the RNet products and will now consolidate all distribution for the group’s fixed products, including RNet under Johnson Data Telemetry (JDT), Burnsville, MN, purchased last year.
The addition of the RNet 450S and 9600S will complement the JDT synthesized product offering, which emphasizes high-tier international ETSI specifications, remote diagnostic and power conservation feature sets. Both the JDT and RNet products adopted the Dataradio Interoperability Standard (DIOS), which assures pin-for-pin and over-the-air compatibility.
“In anticipation of the acquisition, JDT recently introduced a new RNet-style JSLM product line, which will bear the RNet brand,” said Guy Kelnhofer, JDT chief operating officer. “The JSLM is a second-generation RNet product to address the half-channel requirements of FCC refarming. It has the same form factory and pin-outs as the RNet 450 SLMS radio and expands the frequency offering to VHF in addition to UHF. This is good news to RNet customers who need a VHF product.”
Washington awards Transcrypt with $1.3 million contract The Washington State Department of Transportation has agreed to purchase APCO trunking equipment worth $1.3 million. The purchase agreement calls for Transcrypt, Lincoln, NE, to provide WSDOT with Summit mobile radios. The radios will be incorporated into Washington’s statewide APCO trunked radio system.
UniSite relocates to Florida UniSite has moved its corporate headquarters from Richardson, TX, to Tampa, FL. The new address is: UniSite, 3450 Buschwood Park Drive, Suite 250, Tampa, FL 33618.
News notes Transcrypt International, Lincoln, NE, is set to license its LTR-Net protocol to SmartLink Development, Raleigh, NC, to use with its multiprotocol trunking and network systems. Jeff Fuller, Transcrypt’s chief executive, said SmartLink’s use of the protocol will help to establish it “as the de facto standard in enhanced SMR trunking protocols.” Transcrypt’s vice president of engineering and marketing, Joel Young, added that “LTR-Net is the only protocol which offers complete over-the-air compatibility with existing LTR systems.” Speaking of another matter, Bob Wise, SmartLink’s manager of international sales, said the company has contracted Midland Mobile Radio, Theale, Berkshire, England, to represent its interests outside the United States and Canada. “LTR-Net has unlimited potential in the international marketplace,” added SmartLink executive vice president for marketing Craig Johnson.
American TriTech, San Diego, has sold one of its “VisiCAD for Ambulance” computer-aided dispatch systems to Metro Toronto (Canada) EMS. The system is “specifically designed for EMS professionals,” said Sean McEwan, company chairman. Ron Kelusky, director of EMS operations for Metro Toronto EMS, said “The program’s reliability, scaleability and detailed management reports will allow us to substantially increase our operational efficiencies, improve response times and seamlessly integrate with other emergency service agencies.” Rick Hune, manager at Signal Communications Service’s Miami branch, said the Fort Lauderdale, FL-based company has moved his branch office to 6916 NW 72nd Ave. The office serves Dade and Monroe counties.
Bill Ford, computer specialist and project manager for the city of Vicksburg, MS, said that the city’s new single-site, five-channel Motorola Astro Smartzone trunked two-way radio system allows agencies to communicate with either digital or analog equipment. Vicksburg has the first such Astro single-site system. It was dedicated on Jan. 6, 1998. Ron Elwell, vice president of Stratford, CT-based Dictaphone, said that the Capital Area Planning Council (CAPCO) has purchased $1.2 million worth of ProLog digital recording systems for public safety answering points (PSAPs) in 10 Texas counties. “Most of the 36 PSAPs had been using older reel-to-reel equipment,” said Joanna Oliver, CAPCO’s public education and training manager. … Robert J. Shiver, chairman of Intek Diversified, Princeton, NJ, said that the company’s RoameR One subsidiary expects to acquire the assets of 220MHz service provider Wireless Plus, Hayward, CA. Reasons given for the purchase include Wireless Plus’ coverage and capacity in San Francisco.
Maxrad, Hanover Park, IL, has added three manufacturers’ representatives in the Midwest: Advanced/PLM Sales & Marketing, Oak Park, IL; Capitol Electronics, Plainfield, IN; and W.E. Price & Company, Houghton Lake and Waterford, MI. “All three companies bring over a 10-year record of service in the wireless communications business,” said Steve Rahn, Maxrad’s vice president of sales and marketing. … TwitCo Distributing, New Ipswich, NH (800-899-8948), offers a new dealer price list with new products and “aggressive dealer discounts.” … TekNow, Phoenix, has formed co-marketing agreements with Parsippany, NJ-based Dialogic and Minnetonka, MN-based Digi International. “TekNow can focus on developing the most advanced messaging software available while relying on its vendor partners to deliver the finest hardware solutions in the industry,” said TekNow president Ralph Tomeoni. U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, is drafting legislation with language that may help wireless communications carriers to overcome local-government opposition to antenna tower construction. Justification for federal intervention may be based on a perceived need to provide uniform wireless emergency 9-1-1 service. “Because ubiquitous wireless service depends on wireless carriers’ ability to install necessary transmitting towers, this legislation will also seek to provide a process that can be used for resolving local tower siting issues,” a description of the legislation issued by McCain’s office reads. … Motorola’s Customer Owned Messaging, a part of the company’s Paging Products Group, Boynton Beach, FL, will develop new applications together with JTECH, Boca Raton, FL, for business offices, retail stores, manufacturing facilities, restaurants and auto dealerships. “This relationship will allow us to integrate on-premises pager products into new applications and give customers a total turnkey package,” said Jeff Graham Sr., JTECH’s chief executive. … SourceOne Wireless, Chicago, will market interactive paging service provided by RAM Mobile Data. SourceOne brings a customer base of 400,000; RAM is bolstering its nationwide coverage. RAM vice president Thomas Eberle said his company’s network “will offer interactive paging with coverage comparable to one-way paging across the United States.”
Motorola and Nissan are fitting luxury sedans with “telematics,” which use wireless voice and data to provide drivers and passengers with location-specific security, information, convenience and entertainment services from a central service center. Robert Denaro is vice president of Motorola’s newly formed Telematics Information Systems Business. … Digital Voice Systems, Burlington, MA, has licensed its improved multiband excitation (IMBE) voice compression software to Racal Communications, Rockville, MD, for use with Project 25 mobile communications equipment. … Orbcomm, Dulles, VA, was set to begin commercial service in mid-April with an initial eight satellites (of a planned 36) relaying communications from the Magellan GSC 100 portable text-messaging unit. The units communicate among themselves, as well as to and from any Internet email address.
Lee Ellison, senior vice president at Glenayre, Charlotte, NC, said Glenayre and Unicom China Paging have launched the third phase of Unicom’s nationwide paging network in China. “This is one of Glenayre’s largest projects in China,” he said. … William L. Collins III, president of Metrocall, Alexandria, VA, said his company merged with ProNet on Dec. 31, 1997, creating what he described as “the country’s second largest wireless messaging company.” … Joseph T. Gorman, chairman of TRW,Cleveland, said his company is acquiring 7% ownership of ICO Communications, that TRW and ICO will cross-license each other’s patents, and that they are dismissing their patent litigation against one another. The companies expect to implement a medium-earth-orbit satellite communications system.
Former Apollo 12 astronaut Capt. James A. Lovell Jr., speaking on behalf of Sunnyvale, CA-based Ashtech’s board of directors, said the pending merger of Ashtech with Magellan is “a shining example of how business can help us achieve the promise that space technology offers for enhancing our lives.” Ashtech develops and manufactures Global Positioning System (GPS) technology; San Dimas, CA-based Magellan, a subsidiary of Orbital Sciences, makes GPS consumer products and satellite communications equipment.
PageMart Wireless, Dallas, has plans to support paging functionality for Windows CE devices. “Users have told us they want to carry fewer devices, with advanced, integrated features such as wireless email, sender ID and automatic schedule updates,” said company chief executive John D. Beletic. … Signal One, Chattanooga, TN, has an exclusive agreement with Pilot, Knoxville, TN, to build communications towers on Pilot’s land and to co-locate antennas on Pilot’s signs and travel center buildings in 36 states at 103 interchange locations on interstate highways. Signal One’s president is G. Larry Wells.
The Bristol, England, office of investment capital group 3i has invested $3.5 million in Bristol-based Wireless Systems International, which intends to manufacture high-linearity RF amplifiers for mobile telephony, paging, digital terrestrial and satellite broadcasting. “The worldwide market for base station amplifiers is worth $950 million per annum and is growing at 20% per annum,” said Wireless Systems’ managing director Simon Jones. … Spectrian, another manufacturer of ultralinear base station amplifiers, has signed a five-year lease on a 20,000-square-foot manufacturing and engineering facility in Stanford Ranch Industrial Park, Stanford, CA. “We expect to fill 60 positions at the new facility,” said Garrett Garrettson, president of the Sunnyvale, CA-based comp-any. … Another Sunnyvale company with a product intended to reduce dropped calls, ArgoSystems, is conducting trials of its adaptive beamforming antenna system at Bell Atlantic Mobile cell sites in New York. “We were able to show improvements of upwards of 40dB,” said Bob Hockett, general manager of the company’s Commercial Communications Division.