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Posts tagged: General Dynamics

Do you know your Itronix end-of-life trivia? If so, grab a free coffee card

There won't be many more chances to write about Itronix, the tech product line that recently died a quiet death as a small business segment within the belly of defense contractor General Dynamics Corp.

See today's story for the account of how the once-proud Spokane-launched product line went into the dark.

The graphic here is compliments of Syed Khusro, who worked as VP of engineering at Itronix up through last November, including the change of location from Spokane Valley to Sunrise, Fla.

On this occasion, we'll offer up two $5 coffee cards to people who can answer the following two trivia questions correctly. Post answers here, don't send emails because we won't see them anyway.

Question 1:   Name three of the companies that at one time owned Itronix. We're talking about starting in 1994 and going forward until 2013.

Question 2:   Which of the following companies made a very serious effort at buying Itronix but never did (choose just one)?  Asus, Dell, Gryphon, Avista, Motorola, Siemens, Fujitsu.

You need to answer both correctly to win. Extra entries not allowed. Current or past employees of Cowles Co. are not eligible.

The two earliest correct entries get the coffee cards.

Goodbye Itronix. General Dynamics pulls the plug on line of ultrarugged computers

The Itronix product line, at one time one of the area's chief tech products, is finished.

General Dynamics, which acquired Itronix in 2005, confirmed this week it's dropped the production of all GD Itronix “rugged” products.

Itronix was a spinoff from metering firm Itron. Its original product line was handheld meters used by utility crews. Over time it expanded into rugged, highly durable laptops and tablets.

In 2009 General Dynamics, one of the nation's largest defense contractors, announced it would move all Itronix operations from Spokane to Florida. That decision resulted in the loss of 380 Spokane jobs.

Last winter General Dynamics plugged the plug. A company spokesman sent this note this week:

“Regarding General Dynamics Itronix products, we continually assess our business and make changes to ensure efficiency in our operations.In September 2012, we determined that it is in the best interest of our customers and business to end-of-life the General Dynamics Itronix branded computing products.  We will ensure that customer support for products under warranty obligations will be honored.”

You have to wonder how the phrase “end-of-life” ever became a verb.

As a blogger at RuggedPCReview Blog put it, Itronix was a company whose ownership was always in flux.

“Itronix was started in 1989 as a unit of meter-reading company Itron …It was then sold to rugged computer maker Telxon in 1993. In 1997, telecom testing gear company Dynatech Corp. bought Itronix from Telxon for about $65 million. Dynatech changed its name to Acterna in 2000, but fell on hard times and sold Itronix to private equity firm Golden Gate Capital in 2003 for just US$40 million in cash. Golden Gate held on to it for a couple of years before General Dynamics came along. — The band Jefferson Starship comes to mind here, with Grace Slick charging 'Someone always playing corporation games; Who cares they're always changing corporation names.' ”

Who’s to blame for the loss of Agilent, Itronix? Here’s one view

A few weeks back we ran a story on the impact felt locally when Agilent Technologies and General Dynamics Itronix closed down their Spokane plants. 

Thanks to those who offered some helpful comments there on the Spokesman.com site.

For the sake of discussion, I'll drop in two comments. The first (from “Obewan”)  is a bit lengthy:

Both companies' upper management made those decisions based on their own internal information as to what was best for their business. Yes, a poor economy and the latest recession played a very big part, but only because these local branches were not in a position to pull their weight when times got tough. .. In Agilent’s case, the progressive decisions to leave Spokane were driven by the consequences of poor management moves in the preceding years: millions of R&D funding were spent developing the wrong product at the wrong time, making it unviable in the marketplace….

   As for Itronix, its upper management did not understand what General Dynamics wanted of it when they bought it, and/or did not communicate those directives to the next level of management and product design. GD over-reacted by scraping out a good vehicle that just needed some tune ups and new tires, but that was their choice. If Itronix had been making the money that GD expected, you can be assured GD would have not disturbed the production of golden eggs. In both cases, local management let their Spokane workforce down and the employees suffered the consequences.

PHOTO credit: (I don't know who shot it. But ex-Agilent guy Tim Plass forwarded it to the SR.)

READ the next comment on the continuation of this post, below: 

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Scott Maben Scott Maben is a Deputy City Editor who covers North Idaho news and higher education.

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