Russell and Sigurd Varian (photographs by Ansel Adams)
Today, CPI is a global manufacturer of electronic components and subsystems focused primarily on communications and defense markets. The company develops, manufactures and globally distributes innovative and reliable technology solutions used in the generation, amplification, transmission and reception of microwave signals for commercial and military applications. CPI serves customers in the communications, defense, medical, industrial and scientific markets.
The company is organized in three business units:
- Electron Device Business (EDB): focuses mainly on components and consists of the Beverly Microwave Division in Beverly, Mass.; the Microwave Power Products Division in Palo Alto, Calif., which now includes the Eimac operations, also in Palo Alto, Calif., and the Econco operations in Woodland, Calif.; and the Radant Technologies Division in Stow and Hudson, Mass.;
- Satcom & Medical Products (SMP): focuses mainly on subsystems and consists of the Satcom & Medical Products Division, which includes the SMP Satcom Products Group in Georgetown, Ontario, Canada and San Jose, Calif. and the SMP Medical Products Group in Georgetown, Ontario, Canada; and
- Satcom & Antenna Technologies (SAT): focuses mainly on systems and consists of the Satcom & Antenna Technologies Division, which includes the worldwide operations of the former General Dynamics SATCOM Technologies business, the operations of the former Malibu Division in Camarillo, Calif., and the Orbital Systems operations in Irving, Texas.
Original headquarters of Varian Associates in San Carlos, California, circa 1949
In the early 1950s, the Canadian government asked Varian Associates to create a local source for the production of microwave vacuum electron devices. The company established Varian Associates of Canada Limited in 1954 in Georgetown, Ontario, Canada. This business has since become the Satcom & Medical Products Division of CPI, a leader in uplink amplifier products and systems for satellite communications and in high-frequency medical X-ray generators, integrated system controls, digital imaging solutions, and compact power supplies for physical vapor deposition applications.
By 1958, Varian Associates had grown to approximately 1,300 employees and generated approximately $20 million in sales.
In 1959, the company helped launch S-F-D Laboratories in Union, N.J. to design and build new classes of magnetrons and other microwave tubes. That same year, Varian Associates acquired Bomac Laboratories, a manufacturer of microwave tubes and components in Massachusetts. Varian Associates acquired LEL, Inc., which specialized in microwave components, in 1964. These three operations were combined into one operation in Beverly, Mass., and have become the Beverly Microwave Division of CPI.
Russell and Sigurd Varian with the V-42 klystron used in ultra high-frequency (UHF) television transmission, circa 1953. This klystron was the first of a series of Varian Associates high-power tubes used for radar and communication systems. (photograph by Ansel Adams)
In 1965, the company acquired Eitel-McCullough, Inc., a Calif.-based manufacturer of a broad line of specialty electron tubes, primarily for various broadcast and industrial markets. Eitel-McCullough was originally founded in 1934 by William Eitel and Jack McCullough to produce more powerful and reliable transmitting vacuum tubes operating at low voltages for the Ham radio community. Its products were quickly adopted for commercial and military transmitters: they were used by the U.S. Navy in radar experiments starting in 1938 and they powered Allied radars during World War II. Eitel-McCullough became the Eimac Division of Varian Associates and eventually became the Eimac operations of CPI. In June 2006, those operations were integrated into the Microwave Power Products Division of CPI in Palo Alto, Calif.
In 1972, Varian Associates purchased Ryka Scientific, which became part of the company’s solid state operations. In 1979, the Solid State Microwave Division consolidated all its activities and moved into a new facility “dedicated to the development and production of microwave solid state devices and components.” This division’s products were used for low-power applications in communications, avionics, radar, instrumentation and electronic warfare applications. CPI later sold these operations in 2002.
In 1979, Varian Associates’ Microwave Components and Subsystems Division consolidated the majority of its activities in a new, 100,000 square foot facility in Santa Clara, Calif. This division, which focused on power amplifiers, power supplies, microwave components and electromagnets for satellite communications, radar and electronic warfare applications, eventually became part of the Satcom & Medical Products Division of CPI.
Headquarters of Varian Associates in the Stanford Industrial Park in Palo Alto, California, circa 1953. CPI's present-day headquarters remain on the same campus.
Over the years, through internal development and acquisitions, Varian Associates grew its Electron Device Business and developed new devices and uses for its products, including applications for radar, electronic warfare, communications, medical, industrial and scientific markets. The Electron Device Business of Varian Associates became a technological leader in microwave and x-ray generating devices and electronic equipment to drive these devices.
In August 1995, Varian Associates sold the Electron Device Business to Leonard Green & Partners, L.P., a private equity fund, and members of management. Together, they formed Communications & Power Industries, Inc. with the mandate to continue to grow the business’ tradition of technology leadership and manufacturing excellence.
In January 2004, affiliates of The Cypress Group, a private equity fund, acquired CPI.
In October 2004, CPI acquired Econco Broadcast Service, Inc., a rebuilder of power grid devices originally founded in 1968 in Woodland, Calif. Econco Broadcast Service had received the first contracts ever awarded by the U.S. government and the U.S. Navy to remanufacture microwave devices, and twice received the U.S. Navy’s Award for Excellence. Econco is currently part of the Microwave Power Products Division of CPI.
In April 2006, CPI International, Inc., the parent company of CPI, held its initial public offering and began trading on The Nasdaq Stock Market under the symbol “CPII.”
In August 2007, CPI acquired Malibu Research Associates, Inc., a leader in the design, manufacture and integration of advanced antenna systems for radar, radar simulators and telemetry systems, as well as for strategically vital data links used in ground, airborne, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and shipboard systems. The Malibu operations, which were founded in 1975 and are located in Camarillo, Calif., are currently part of the Satcom & Antenna Technologies Division of CPI.
In February 2011, an affiliate of Veritas Capital, a private equity investment firm which invests in companies that provide critical products and services to governments worldwide, acquired CPI for approximately $525 million. CPI International ceased trading on The Nasdaq Stock Market.
In June 2012, CPI acquired the Codan Satcom business from Codan Limited, increasing CPI’s portfolio of solid-state products and subsystems for satellite communications applications to support commercial and government customers. The Codan Satcom business, consisting of operations in Australia and the Locus Microwave operations in Boalsburg, Pa., are currently part of the Satcom & Medical Products Division of CPI.
In June 2013, CPI acquired M C L, Inc. (MCL), a manufacturer of power amplifier products and systems for the satellite communications market. The acquisition, which was integrated into what is now the Satcom & Medical Products Division of CPI, further expanded CPI’s satellite communications product and service offerings.
In October 2013, CPI acquired Radant Technologies, Inc., a manufacturer of advanced composite radomes, reflector antennas and structures for defense aerospace, defense naval and commercial aerospace applications. The acquisition broadened CPI’s portfolio of microwave and radio frequency products for radar, electronic warfare and communications applications. Radant Technologies, founded in 1984 and based in Stow, Mass., became the Radant Technologies Division of CPI.
In September 2015, CPI acquired ASC Signal Corporation, which designed and built advanced satellite communications, radar and high-frequency antennas and controllers. The ASC Signal operations were sold to Kratos Defense & Security Systems in June 2020.
In July 2017, Odyssey Investment Partners, LLC, a private equity investment firm, acquired CPI.
In August 2018, CPI acquired the related companies Orbital Systems, Ltd. and Quorum Communications, Inc., merging them into one organization, Orbital Systems LLC; these operations are currently part of CPI's Satcom & Antenna Technologies Division. Based in Irving, Texas, Orbital designs and manufactures ground-based full-motion antenna systems primarily for communications with earth observation satellites in low earth orbit and telemetry, tracking and control applications, as well as provides satellite microwave receivers, downconverters and other communications products.
In June 2020, CPI acquired the General Dynamics SATCOM Technologies global antenna systems business, renaming it CPI Satcom & Antenna Technologies and integrating it with CPI's existing antenna systems operations to create the CPI Satcom & Antenna Technologies Division. These operations offer a broad and deep portfolio of satellite communications antenna systems and related radio frequency products and electronics, as well as engineering and installation services, for use in defense, communications and scientific applications.
Today, CPI continues its long tradition of leading the world in developing and producing microwave devices. In fiscal 2019, CPI employed approximately 1,800 people and generated approximately $504 million in sales.