Wednesday, October 3, 2001

Adtech’s manufacturing
will move to California

About 60 jobs are in limbo at one
of the state's high-tech success stories

By Tim Ruel

Nearly 60 well-paying manufacturing jobs are in limbo while the parent of Honolulu's chief high-tech company, Adtech, prepares to consolidate assembly operations in California next year.

Adtech, bought by U.K. firm Spirent plc in 1997, confirmed it is shifting assembly operations to Calabasas, Calif., the home of Adtech's sister firm Smartbits. Spirent is building a new 83,000-square-foot manufacturing and management facility in Calabasas, which is slated to open in the first quarter next year.

Adtech spokeswoman Cathi Lane declined to speculate how many of the 59 assembly employees in Hawaii will lose their jobs.

She noted that an uncertain number of workers will be offered positions with Spirent here and on the mainland.

One person who is definitely moving to the new facility in California is Ray Texeira, Adtech's vice president of manufacturing, who is becoming Spirent's vice president in charge of Smartbits and Adtech, Lane said. Texeira, a Silicon Valley veteran, joined Adtech in February.

Adtech plans to strengthen its focus on research and development in Hawaii, Lane said. Adtech has already trimmed at least 30 employees and currently has a Hawaii work force of about 290 people.

The company's movements have previously stirred some controversy.

In July, just two weeks before Adtech began announcing job cuts, the firm's former president, Tareq Hoque, stepped down partly because he opposed the loss of assembly jobs to California. Hoque is the son-in-law of the Weldons, who established Adtech in Honolulu in 1967. The move is a sad statement for Hawaii's fledgling high-tech scene, Hoque said yesterday.

Hoque said the focus on California has been motivated partly by Spirent politics. After Spirent bought Smartbits in July 1999, Smartbits President Barry Phelps became Spirent's division president in charge of Adtech, Smartbits and other units.

"They have been looking after their own people very well," Hoque said.

Hoque was immediately replaced by Alan Sguigna, then-vice president of marketing at Adtech. In July, Sguigna said Adtech was not shifting jobs to the mainland, though he noted that the firm's revenues were down and it was reviewing operations to cut costs.

Adtech parent Spirent only recently entered the business of building testing systems for network equipment, and major clients, including Lucent, Nortel and Cisco, have all been hurt by falling orders this year.

The Sept. 11 attacks temporarily slowed business even more, Lane said, but she noted that last month's sales still met their target.

On Aug. 30, Spirent said it was cutting 500 jobs throughout the company. Previously Spirent had spent $1.1 billion between 1997 and October 2000 to buy its way into the network testing business, purchasing 12 companies including Adtech, according to Bloomberg News. In the first half of this year, publicly held Spirent reported a loss of $377 million compared with a profit of $22 million a year earlier.

Spirent's shares closed at a 52-week low yesterday of $103.69, down 90 percent from a high of $1,019.97 a share on Oct. 3, 2000.

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