Intellian's Seoul facility includes four R&D labs and provisions for testing in marine conditions
Rather than retrench in tough economic times, South Korean marine satellite antenna manufacturer Intellian Technologies is banking on its investment in research and development to gain a larger share of the U.S. market.
Based in Seoul and with an office in Irvine, Calif., Intellian designs and manufactures satellite TV, VSAT and Inmarsat antennas for the recreational and commercial markets. The company has installed more than 10,000 antennas in just five years - with no failures, according to John Minetola, vice president of sales for North America.
"In terms of numbers, we've had more success with recreational boats, but in terms of dollars, we've gotten more income with commercial vessels because the equipment for a commercial vessel is more expensive due to the larger scale," says Minetola.
In May the company opened an Innovation Center in Seoul that can produce 1,000 units a month. The facility includes four R&D labs and has the capacity for testing antennas in various conditions.
Minetola says Intellian is unique because everything from design to shipping is done in-house, with little outsourcing. And keeping the product simple - fewer moving parts, for example - allows for ease of maintenance and installation.
"We even build our own mechanical parts," says Minetola. "The new center shows growth and our commitment [to the product]. This is a pretty big building by marine electronics standards, at about 75,000 square feet."
Minetola says reducing outsourcing allows for better quality control. "Intellian manufactures approximately 85 percent of the components in their products," he says.
There are teams at the center for quality control, engineering, product development, radio frequency design, mechanical design, production, purchasing and administration. "Having engineering working directly with manufacturing helps ensure the products are easy to build, and this reduces manufacturing costs and improves product quality," says Minetola.
Showing the company's commitment to research, the center has extensive windows for satellite signal acquisition and a near-field test room where antennas can be tested at close range with a "phony" satellite on the property. Products are run through shock-wave tests and are exposed to marine conditions such as humidity, salt and mist. A near-field antenna chamber for testing frequency at close range also is planned.
Intellian has been making a mark in the U.S. marine industry for the last several years. Established in 2004, the company began distributing product in 2005 and has seen steady revenue growth year after year since, according to Minetola. It reinvests 20 percent of revenue into R&D, he says. Intellian became the exclusive supplier for Raymarine in the United States and Western Europe in 2005.
Employment has increased from 62 to 87 in the last year, with eight new full-time hires made in the United States. Minetola says 11 new independent contractors have also been added.
Minetola says all Intellian products come with a standard three-year warranty, one of the longest in the market. The company is developing a satellite TV antenna for smaller boats. For information, visit www.intelliantech.com.
This article originally appeared in the August 2010 issue.