Starting Datron

711 No. Nimitz Hwy. ~ Honolulu, HI 96817

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Starting Datron Systems

In the 1960's the dominant supplier of telemetry tracking systems was a company called Canoga Electronics.  A major supplier to Canoga was a machine shop called Datron owned and run by a man named Bob Danis.  Jack Wills was in marketing at Canoga and he spearheaded the effort to build a company to compete with Canoga.  At that time the major players below administration were; Jack Wills - Marketing, Ron Potter - Marketing, Pierce Wetter Control Engineer, Charlie Fassnacht - Mechanical Engineer, Don Rondeau - Contracts, Dave Derby - Program Manager and myself, Fritz Amtsberg - Program Manager and Systems Integrator.  Art Sullivan (founder of EMP was also a Canoga employee).  Canoga's Lawyer was a man named Ted McCabe.

 Jack Wills approached Bob Danis to see if he was interested in being the foundation for a new company building Antenna Systems and Telemetry related systems.  He was and soon evening meetings were in progress to set up the company.  It was determined that the key to success would be if Datron was able to received the next contract from Safeguard Systems Command for an antenna for Kwajalein Missile Range.  I was the Program Manager, systems integrator performed the system tests and installed the previous system which was a 24 Ft. Antenna system on the island of Ennylabagen in the Marshall Islands.  We gambled that we could win this and All of us left Canoga which in the long run killed the company.

 So, in May of 1969 Datron became a reality and we built the company around the machine shop in a small building on 9200 Desoto in Canoga Park Ca.  We bid the antenna system to Safeguard Systems Command and I received a call from the engineer, Bob Eison, and he said "I am going to award this to you but you better not mess this up! My reputation is on the line! 

 That contract "Opened the Flood Gates" and soon we moved to a 20,000 sq. ft. around the corner on 20716 Plummer St.  Jobs seemed to come from everywhere! Pedestals for Tasker, the antenna for the Navy WSC-2 from ITT, Antenna systems for NRL and we continued to grow.  Soon we moved the machine shop to a building behind us and after that we acquired the building next to us.  We had about 60,000 sq. ft. of space.

 

Founders

Jack Wills - President and Microwave Engineer - Deceased

Ron Potter - Director of Marketing - Deceased

Don Rondeau - Contracts

Bob Danis - Director of Manufacturing

Pierce Wetter - Electronics Engineer

Charlie Fassnacht - Mechanical Engineer - Deceased

Dave Derby - Program Manager

Fritz Amtsberg - Program Manager/Systems Integrator/Installer

 

Future Employees of Importance

Dan Flynn - Mechanical Engineeer - Founder of RPM - Deceased

Mark Mathews - Engineering Aid - Founder of PSI now part of RPM

John DiGoia - Engineering Aid - Now President of L3 Datron Advanced Technologies - Way To Go John!

 

 

The following are several photos of systems in installed at Kwajalein and Naval Research Blossom Point Maryland.

28 Ft. System installed on Ennylabagen (Carlos) I an am the top of the antenna so that I can slide down one of the spars and bolt the reflector to the pedestal.

 

The following are antenna's I installed at Blossom Point Maryland for Naval Research Labs.  There were two 48 Ft. Antenna's and three 20 Ft. Antenna's.

 

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Last modified: 01/29/13