Newsline

September 5, 2006
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Shah Capital Partners acquires Thales Navigation; Trimble celebrates new Westminster location; new forensic and security organization aims to find truth; and ACSM seeks support to pass National Surveyors Week resolution.

Shah Capital Partners Acquires Thales Navigation

On July 20, an investment group of six companies led by Shah Capital Partners (SCP) of Santa Clara, Calif., signed a definitive agreement to acquire Thales Navigation, San Dimas, Calif., a division of Thales Group.

The transaction, which took place immediately, includes a re-branding of the popular Magellan name known to the consumer market. The new company resulting from the acquisition called Magellan Navigation Inc. will be headquartered in San Dimas, Calif.

According to the press release announcing the acquisition, the sale includes Thales Navigation's Professional Products division, GPS OEM products and the Consumer Navigation Products division (including Magellan Roadmate and Hertz Neverlost products). The sale also includes DSNP (Dassault Sercel Navigation Positioning) long-range kinematic technology, which was integrated into the company with Thales' purchase of Magellan Corporation in 2001. Additionally, the deal outlines that Thales Navigation's participation with the Galileo infrastructure will remain with Thales, but Magellan Navigation Inc. will retain any development involved with Galileo end-user equipment.

Negotiations for the acquisition began about nine months ago when Thales Navigation reviewed its company and determined a need for a better parent and shareholder. SCP, a private equity firm that focuses primarily on engineering and manufacturing companies involved with electronics, was familiar with Thales Navigation through its contract design manufacturing company, TES Electronic Solutions. For eight years, TES has manufactured several of the Thales survey and GIS products, including the Z-Max GPS/GIS survey system, Aquarius and Sagitta marine survey systems, 3011 GPS compass and the Internet-Enabled Continuous Geodetic Reference Station (iCGRS) system.

According to Francois Erceau, vice president and general manager of Thales Navigation's survey and GIS business unit, Thales will act as a standalone company and will be more capable of faster reaction times to the changes in the market with SCP as its parent. "Thales Navigation operates with quick product cycles," Erceau says. "Because of SCP's extensive portfolio and knowledge in specific industry sectors, [the company] understands businesses with faster turnarounds and product cycles."

In its 2001 acquisition of Magellan Corporation, Thales focused on being one of the U.S.-based leaders in GPS equipment. According to Erceau, the new Magellan Navigation entity seeks to continue its leadership and differentiate itself in the surveying market, focusing on being one of the only GPS specialist providers. "There is revenue on the consumer side as well as good growth on the professional side," Erceau explains. "We have followed up on trends and have been up-to-date with market growth. We have potential to become an absolute leader in the GPS market."

In the summer of 2002, Thales merged all of its professional products under the brand name Thales Navigation because it was well-recognized on a worldwide basis. Now, only four years later, Thales Navigation is reverting to the Magellan brand, a name prominently known in the consumer market.

According to Erceau, reverting to the Magellan name is a deliberate move. "Despite the value of Thales Navigation's well-known name, we do not see the value in keeping it," Erceau explains. "By changing the name to Magellan Navigation Inc. we want to convey an image that something new is happening with the Magellan [name] for the benefit of the professional [products] side."

SCP has plans to invest and drive the new company, and intends to grow the value of the business. "We are going to focus on operations excellence to be better on all levels," Erceau explains. "This includes the marketing side as well as the engineering, manufacturing and operations side of the business. We believe that we can become one of the top leaders in all segments [professional and consumer] of the business."

Although this acquisition brings one major change-the exchange of the Magellan name in place of Thales Navigation-Erceau maintains that this change will be positive for Thales Navigation's professional products customers. "We recognize the sentiments of [surveyors'] resistance to change," Erceau says. "However, this resistance can be overcome by making a stronger company and creating new and improved products for the industry. We want to make the transition [from Thales to Magellan] as smooth as possible. This transformation brings the possibility for innovation and comes with a good level of momentum."

In order to make the transition from Thales Navigation to Magellan Navigation Inc. successful, the company plans to launch a new marketing campaign this fall, continuing through the beginning of 2007. While details of the campaign are not yet finalized, Erceau reveals that Magellan Navigation plans to launch the Magellan professional brand to the professional products side of the business.

When asked if this acquisition will have any effects on technical support services and current Thales products, Erceau asserts that this acquisition will bring only positive effects. "SCP is taking the company as it is. It is counting on every single element to deliver good profit and growth to the company." According to Erceau, the new company plans to take a number of actions to make sure that its customers know that everything is safe and that the quality of its products is not changing. Reinforcing the Magellan name, Erceau emphasizes that his customers should feel comfortable with this transition and should see improvement and progress with the company and its products. "We should see more pace in the market as to what this company is capable of. This is a transition-we need to come with practical answers to the market. That means that we are going to have a focus on being professional and supportive to our customers."

Trimble's Vice President and General Manager of Engineering and Construction Business Bryn Fosburgh (left) and President and CEO Steve Berglund (back) watch as Congressman Mark Udall (front) cuts the ribbon to celebrate the opening of Trimble's new Westminster location.

Trimble Celebrates New Westminster Location

On Tuesday, August 1, Trimble celebrated the opening of its new Westminster, Colo., location with a ribbon cutting ceremony. The ceremony took place on the new building's main steps and was executed by Trimble President and CEO Steve Berglund and Vice President and General Manager of Engineering and Construction Business, Bryn Fosburgh. Also attending the ceremony was Colorado Congressman Mark Udall, who had the honor of cutting the ribbon. Udall not only serves under Westminster's Congressional District but also as a ranking member on the Committee on Science and the Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee.

Trimble initially opened its doors in Westminster in September of 2000. According to Fosburgh, at that time, it occupied approximately 29,000 square feet and employed 40 people. Since that time, Trimble has experienced significant expansion with the growth of its company. As a result, Trimble's new and much larger facility employs 190 people and occupies 75,000 square feet. "Our employee base has grown approximately 325 percent over a six-year period," Fosburgh commented at the event.

A 3D laser scan of the new Trimble Westminster, Colo., office, which employs 190 people and occupies more than 75,000 square feet.

The Westminster location offers a highly skilled technical workforce, substantial construction market activity and a desirable standard of living for its employees. While Trimble's corporate headquarters remain in Sunnyvale, Calif., its Westminter location is home to Trimble's Engineering and Construction, Mapping & Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Agricultural Divisions. Noting that some of Trimble's most substantial business divisions are headquartered in Westminster, Berglund added, "This location is intended to be the hub for the majority of our U.S. organic growth in the next five years."

According to Berglund, Trimble's sales have grown at an average rate of 17 percent per year for the last seven years. This level of performance is providing the company with a certain amount of acclaim. Most recently, the company was named as one of the U.S.' "Hot Growth Companies" by Business Week. The opening of the Westminster location is a sign of growth for Trimble, but also for the surveying profession in general. The new facility exemplifies that improvement of positioning technology can improve the way the profession operates and advances. After almost 30 years of operation, and with more than 500 products, Trimble continues to provide customers with advanced location-based solutions to maximize productivity and enhance profitability. "We have the right platform to launch the best products and most importantly, the best organization," Berglund said. "I look forward to the next stage when-at some point in the future-we open the next, significantly larger Colorado facility."

Trimble's New Westminster location is:
Trimble Colorado
10355 Westmoor Drive, Suite 100
Westminster, CO 80021


New Forensic and Security Organization Aims to Find Truth

This past March, attendees at the SPAR 2006 conference on 3D laser scanning formulated plans to create an international nonprofit organization dedicated to furthering the development of forensic and security metrology. As a result, on July 10 and 11, 2006, the first board meeting of The International Association of Forensic & Security Metrology Inc. (IAFSM) convened in Salem, Mass. The association's motto "Sharing knowledge and finding the truth" coincides with its mission to establish certified training programs for applying the latest technologies for forensic and security metrology. IAFSM aims to foster development and advancement of standards and techniques by bringing together knowledge from a variety of experts who use and/or develop GPS, GIS, surveying, photogrammetry, long-, mid- and short-range laser scanners, sub-millimeter scanners, white light scanners, 3D printers and supporting software.

According to the newly established IAFSM policies, membership is open to "persons of integrity with suitable education, training and experience in measuring events and crime scenes, accident reconstruction, and reverse-engineering for investigative, security, pre-event planning and/or litigation purposes." Employees of companies that are primarily service providers supporting law enforcement, security professionals, legal professionals or investigators in gathering and/or analyzing spatial data from an incident/crime scene may apply for admission as industry members.

Manufacturers of 3D laser scanners, post-processing software and other "products used or encountered in the capturing of spatial data, or specialists in closely related fields whose area of expertise would be beneficial to IAFSM" may apply to serve as technical advisors to the association. Technical advisors will be expected to keep IAFSM apprised of advances in commercially available technologies to support forensic and security metrology, and in turn will have extensive opportunities to hear firsthand about the technology requirements of association members. Specifically, the scope of IAFSM entails the following activities:
  • Conducting and sponsoring seminars involving the theory and practice of gathering 2D and 3D spatial data.
  • Serving as a forum to discuss, share and evaluate forensic metrology methods, protocols, training and research to enhance incident responses to natural disasters, homicides, terrorist acts, etc.
  • Fostering exchange of information between scientific crime laboratories and law enforcement on the improvement and standardization of techniques for first responders gathering and documenting spatial data.
  • Publishing a journal covering the latest developments in metrology and how they apply to law enforcement and forensics.
  • Testing of laser scanning technologies and components as well as other new technologies as they become available for the benefit of public safety, the safety of users in the field and their implementation into usage by law enforcement.
  • Responding to requests from courts, judicial tribunals, and executive and legislative branches of government for the names of qualified expert witnesses in the field of reverse-engineering crime scene examiners and experts in the usage of a variety of metrology techniques, tools and software.
  • Participating, as far as circumstances may warrant, in any activity designed and established to promote the advancement of education and science, such as conducting conferences, operating websites, publishing journals or periodicals and performing scientific research.


ACSM Seeks Support to Pass National Surveyor's Week Resolution

The American Congress on Surveying and Mapping (ACSM) has supported two Congressional bills this year to promote recognition of National Land Surveyors Week. In January, the U.S. Senate passed Resolution 361, which establishes the third week in March as National Land Surveyors Week (see "Newsline," POB April 2006 for the entire text of the resolution). Currently, a House of Representatives committee is considering House Resolution 518, a comparable bill to S. Res. 361. The bill is supported by ten cosponsors, including the primary sponsors Adam Putnam (R-Fla.) and Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.). However, Rep. Putnam is seeking a total of 50 cosponsors for the bill before bringing it to the House floor. To generate support for this resolution, ACSM urges its members and the surveying community at large to contact their House representatives to cosponsor H. Res. 518. Surveyors can find their House representatives by entering their zip code at www.house.gov.

"Having both resolutions [passed by] both houses is significant," said Curt Sumner, executive director of ACSM. These efforts demonstrate Congressional support for the land surveying profession. Next year, National Surveyors Week will be commemorated March 18 to 25, 2007.

Associate Editor Regan Grant compiles "Newsline." Contact her at grantr@bnpmedia.com or 248/786-1620.

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