Anritsu makes test and measurement equipment; involved with community

Published in the Jan. 21 – Feb. 3, 2015 issue of Morgan Hill Life

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By Robert Airoldi

Photo by Marty Cheek Anritsu CEO Wade Hulon talks with Executive Assistant and Travel Manager Lisa Aragon at the company’s American headquarters in Morgan Hill.

Photo by Marty Cheek
Anritsu America President Wade Hulon talks with Executive Assistant and Travel Manager Lisa Aragon at the company’s American headquarters in Morgan Hill.

Drivers passing through Morgan Hill’s industrial park south of Cochrane Road might notice in the corner of their eyes a nondescript set of buildings at the intersection of Butterfield Boulevard and Jarvis Drive. Most of these people will never realize that beyond the walls exists an electronics company that, with about 400 employees, has grown into the city’s largest private business.

With its world headquarters in Kanagawa, Japan, the 120-year-old Anritsu Corporation has been doing business in Morgan Hill as Anritsu Company for more than 30 years.

Anritsu employs a total of 550 in California and more than 750 throughout the United States. Of all these workers, about 400 have bachelor degrees or higher, making it a company with a highly educated workforce. And if most Morgan Hill residents have never heard of Anritsu, those who have might not know what the firm actually manufactures. The company makes electronic test equipment serving a variety of high-tech customers in the Silicon Valley and around the world.

Those markets include leading edge research and development firms like Apple and Qualcomm, government, military and aerospace agencies. All require high-precision products from the test and measurement device industry to create the digital gadgets that make modern life possible, said Wade Hulon, President for Anritsu U.S.

Anritsu test and measurement products, for example, are used by semiconductor companies in the process of making the chips that operate in cell phones placed in the products manufactured by Apple, Samsung and LG. Anritsu products also are used in making and servicing the deployment stations at cell towers dotting the globe that transmit the signals linking cell phone users around the world. These high-tech companies go to Anritsu to buy the specialized electronic tools required to assure their products have a high level of quality control.

Anritsu’s core business is test and measurement instruments for communications. Its products are used in the design, manufacturing and maintenance of wired or wireless solutions, radio frequency and microwave solutions and optical solutions, among other data communications applications. The Morgan Hill site specializes in microwave measurement devices and testing products. Workers here range in activities from the engineering design of these complex electronics systems to the specialized manufacturing of these devices on the factory floor.
“From chips to devices to infrastructure, we cover that complete ecosystem which is an advantage,” said Hulon.

Originally from Virginia, Hulon began his career as an electrical engineer in 1982, working for a research lab that led him to Techtronics Industries, a test and measurement firm with operations in the Silicon Valley. He worked for several other companies in the test and measurement field before coming to Anritsu in 2006 to start work as the vice president of sales. He was appointed to the president/CEO position last year.

“When I got here I found I knew a lot of people already,” the 55-year-old father of two daughters said, referring to his years of experience working in the electronics testing and measurement industry.

Anritsu got its start in Morgan Hill thanks to an instrumentation company called Wiltron that was started in 1960 by three Hewlett Packard engineers – including Bill Jarvis for whom Jarvis Drive was named. With the boom in the electronics industry in the 1960s and 1970s, the men and many Wiltron workers became multi-millionaires. Wiltron eventually moved its base of operations to Morgan Hill, purchasing many acres of land south of Cochrane Road and starting construction of the city’s prime industrial park area that has grown there over the decades.

Anritsu purchased Wiltron in 1991 and kept operations on the same Jarvis Drive site. Today, Anritsu boasts an employee cafeteria and gym, and maintaining a high level of job satisfaction is an important part of the corporate culture. Everyone at Anritsu’s Morgan Hill site is encouraged to think creatively in finding better ways to serve the company’s customers, Hulon said.

“There’s a lot of change in the world and consolidation and places can get less fun to work,” he said. “We are more family oriented and we all agree that it is still preserved here. My philosophy is to empower the people to get the work done.”

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Another philosophy that Hulon inherited when taking the helm is for the company and its employees to be actively involved in the local community.

“We support the Morgan Hill Science Fair, the Morgan Hill Historical Society and half a dozen other groups,” Hulon said. “We want to be good corporate citizens. We all live here and want to see the community grow.”

Many employees live in the area, and Hulon called Morgan Hill a great community to base the company’s operations because of the high quality of life residents here enjoy.

“It’s kind of an area where people join the company and raise their families,” he said. “The downtown area has grown up with some world-class restaurants, so it’s also a great place for meetings and entertaining customers and lot of advantages that helps us compete with other high-tech companies in Silicon Valley.”