Electronics Manager, Symar California / Chelmsford MA - July 19, 2013
I started working at Irvine Optical Corp. (which was later bought by Brooks Automation) in 1983. I worked there until I was laid off in 2003. Irvine Optical went through a few changes in management before being purchased by Brooks Automation in 2000. There were so many changes it was like working for four different companies. It was easy to make the transition from Brooks to EDIC (out of the frying pan and into the fire). Most notably the wide range of products offered, the large number variations and options for each product and the responsiveness to customizations based on individual customer needs. The most valuable resource at Brooks Automation SBU (Sorter Business Unit, California) were the engineers. They were not perfect. They were always a little behind schedule but they were good. They were so good that we had the distinction of engineering, building and selling the (at that time) fastest two cassette integrated circuit wafer sorter on the planet. I don’t know how long we could claim that before another company surpassed us but it proved that we were not followers but leaders in the semiconductor factory automation market. I had the opportunity to wear a lot of hats while at Irvine Optical / Brooks. Although it was overwhelming at times, the most satisfying and exiting times were when I was purchasing all the parts for the electronics department (procurement, assembly , test and repair) and I was the production manager for the department. We were like a company within the company since procurement and production were in the same department. Further more, when the engineering department would get too far behind the electronics department would take up the slack by designing and documenting all the cables (and sometimes the boards) for new products and features and improvement for old products. During the time I was the electronics manager for Irvine Optical (and later Brooks Automation SBU) we went from 5 million in sales to 20 million. During that time the department grew from 5 people to 11, so we benefited from the economy of scale and apparently we got better at what we were doing. The sorter business unit fell victim to the “dot com” blow up. We were shut down. I was fortunate to be a part of the transition team and was able to work for over 4 months after the Sylmar facility shut it’s doors for the last time. I have nothing bad to say about Brooks Automation and there are no hard feelings. It’s a great company and I am quite happy to have had the opportunity to work for them.