Since 1973, there has been a satellite communications antenna manufacturing facility in Kilgore. Originally founded as Radio Mechanical Structures, the facility became Vertex Communications in 1984. Under the name Vertex, the company became one of the largest suppliers of satellite communications antennas in the world. Vertex acquired several other companies to expand the product portfolio and to increase domestic and international market share. In 2004, the company was sold to General Dynamics and was later acquired by Communications & Power Industries (CPI), a global communications and defense technology company, in 2020.
After the acquisition by CPI, the Kilgore facility is undergoing its largest expansion in decades. Adding new buildings to their Longview Street facility, this expansion will accommodate a new product line and dedicated paint bay in the Kilgore facility.
Beyond their production facilities and office complex on Longview Street and Energy Drive, CPI’s local operations also include a 58-acre test range on the edge of Kilgore. Prototyping of new designs and quality assurance of established products can be carried out on one of four test sites before equipment is sent into the field. The test range is certified by the FCC and FAA, along with international organizations including Asiasat, Eutelsat and Intelsat. The range also contains one of only two FAA-certified air traffic control (ATC) “ground reflection” ranges in the nation.
CPI’s antennas range in size from a dish small enough to be carried into combat to fixed earth stations spanning over 34 meters (112 feet) in diameter. Building materials including steel, aluminum and carbon fiber allow CPI to build a product that exactly suits their customers’ needs. Antennas built for extreme environments, like high-wind regions susceptible to hurricanes and typhoons, extreme heat of deserts or the extreme cold of the South Pole, need dedicated engineering from the team at CPI. High-wind antennas are built to survive winds up to 200 miles per hour.
A team of over 275 dedicated employees build the state-of-the-art satellite antennas for use in commercial and government applications at CPI’s local facilities. Whether it’s for television, scientific exploration, weather observation or military communications, there’s a very good chance you’ve benefitted from satellite antennas built right here in Kilgore.
CPI has a strong workforce of highly skilled technicians, welders, program managers, drafters, engineers, and other disciplines. CPI supports STEM programs at local school districts and partners with Kilgore College to help support training programs for skilled labor. The Kilgore College welding program, in particular, has received funding from CPI over the years to help create the caliber of precision welders that CPI needs for their projects.
Alan Pollard, who was recently promoted to director of product line management for CPI’s antenna operations, has been working at the Kilgore campus for nearly 25 years. Starting as an RF engineer, Pollard has worked his way up the ladder and now oversees not only the antenna products at the facility in Kilgore, but also oversees antenna-related products from other CPI facilities in Texas, California, Pennsylvania, and Germany.
“The products we produce at our Kilgore facility have been instrumental in not only commercial satellite communications, but also in the secure communications for our armed forces,” said Pollard. “ I am proud to know that CPI’s products serve a vital role in protecting our country and the freedoms we enjoy.”
To learn more about CPI’s mission and the work that they do in Kilgore and around the world, visit their website at https://www.cpii.com/