BARRINGTON, NJ-Rather than resting on its laurels after more than 60 years in business, Edmund Optics continues to expand into new product lines, new markets, and new business opportunities. As a result, the company recently reported an impressive 13 consecutive quarters of year-on-year sales growth, with a 10.6% increase in consolidated revenue in 2005 and a 5% improvement in profitability.
“This remarkable three-year performance of continuous growth demonstrates the stability of Edmund Optics in the competitive and fast-moving optics industry,” said Robert Edmund, CEO.
Edmund Optics’ business comprises two main components: catalog product sales and custom product sales. On the custom side, which Edmund says is the fastest growing part of the $100 million company, much of the company’s success is due to subcontracting with many of the key players in the military market. In particular, Edmund has attracted much attention with its US-based aspheric manufacturing capabilities; in 2001, the company acquired Plummer Precision Optics (Pennsburg, PA), which focuses on custom manufacturing of optical components, opto-mechanical assemblies, and advanced coatings for industrial and defense applications.
“We are getting a lot of praise from the military market about our ability to meet the demands of the new weaponry systems, and some of that has to do with our push into aspheric manufacturing,” Edmund said. “Aspherics have been around for a long time but what’s been lacking is the ability on the part of manufacturers to produce them in quantity with consistent quality. And that is where we have been doing some pioneering work.”
On the catalog side, Edmund said some of its strongest growth markets at present are imaging products for homeland security and biophotonics. While the U.S. technology market has stalled somewhat (with the exception of security and biophotonics), Edmund is seeing double-digit growth in Asia and Europe-in part because the tech markets are expanding but also because Edmund is capturing more market share.
“In all of the international markets we are gaining market share because we are doing a better job of servicing customers,” he said. “We have had feedback from customers in Europe who say that even though we are U.S.-based, we can deliver faster than many in-country suppliers.”
Looking ahead, Edmund plans to launch an even bigger catalog in 2007 than what it currently offers, and to dramatically expand its product lines. The company recently announced the introduction of 20 new product lines in the ultraviolet for the Fall 2006 catalog, many geared toward the needs of biophotonics customers. In addition, Edmund-which already has a large manufacturing facility in Singapore and a design facility in Arizona-is looking to expand via mergers and acquisitions and is in negotiations with an optics manufacturer in Japan, with the intent to eventually own them 100%. While the company has flirted with the idea of combining forces with a larger entity or even going public, Edmund says they are not actively looking to sell the company.
“At our board of directors meeting in February, the dictum from our board was that we should operate as though we were a public company and always be prepared to the idea that that might be a path we’d go down,” Edmund said. “But the preferred course at the moment is to stay private, which I think is realistic given our size. They used to say that to go public you had to be a $100 million company and we are getting very close to that, but I think the goal post has moved. These days I think you need to be closer to $200 million, and a lot of that is the huge costs to go public and the maintenance costs afterwards.”