Founder in Talks to Buy JPS Assets, Market in Limbo
Thursday, February 11, 2016 | Comments
One of the three founders of JPS Communications is in talks with Raytheon to buy the company’s key assets. Raytheon JPS Communications closed its business operations Jan. 29.

“I’m in the process of attempting to re-acquire it by buying key assets and attempting to stand it back up,” said Don Scott, one of the three founders of the company and the S in JPS. “The customers have been calling me regularly and the folks in the sales channels, knowing that I was a founder and had some investment in the success of the company over the years. They were wondering if I could somehow make JPS a privately held entity, which could continue to deliver its products to the market. I’m in the process to determine if we can work something out.”

Tom Jacks and Peter Pflasterer, who is deceased, are the other founders of JPS. They founded the company in 1988 and sold it to Raytheon in 2002. After 9/11, federal grants were plentiful, and JPS’ ACU-1000 and other interoperability gateway products were often part of the equipment purchased with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) money.

“These products are vital to national security and used in mass casualty incidents and any incidents involving threats from outside interests,” Scott said. “It would be vital to continue to have some means of deploying this equipment and allowing the customers to have funding in the channels and to support them. I know Raytheon will uphold their obligations at the date of terminations, including standing behind warranty, but to me it’s a longer term issue. Many customers are only partway through a procurement and deployment.”

DH Marketing is a manufacturer’s representative in Lago Vista, Texas, which has been put in a bind because of the closure of Raytheon JPS. Carroll Hollingsworth, CEO of DH Marketing, said he sold some JPS units shortly before the closure and those products can’t be delivered. “Apparently nothing can be delivered,” he said. “It is difficult to understand why Raytheon did not take the time to manage their closure and work with their manufacturers representatives who were their sales partners.”

There are more than 1,400 Raytheon JPS products in the state of Texas and several hundred more in Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana, Hollingsworth said.

“Our customers are concerned about how they will receive the service and support needed for their Raytheon JPS products,” said Hollingsworth. “DH Sales Group is receiving many phone calls and emails from our customers wanting to know how they will get product support and service for their Raytheon JPS products that we sold them.”

The state of Alabama opened a statewide contract with Raytheon in 2005 and was still doing business with them when the company was closed. The Alabama Interoperability Network (ALIN) consists of numerous ACU-1000s, ACU-Ms and other networked components. Alabama's Strategic Technology Reserve (STR) relies heavily on the JPS products used in ALIN to communicate via satellite and/or Long Term Evolution (LTE) from units in the field back to the state emergency operations center (EOC) and other points of presence for decision makers during times of emergencies and disasters.

"We have used JPS's products in numerous emergencies and disaster affecting our state over the past 10 – 12 years," said Charles R. Murph, assistant director, statewide interoperability coordinator, Alabama Law Enforcement Agency. "Fortunately, JPS employed some of the finest sales and service representatives in the public-safety communications sector. Our sales representative was a former first responder and understood the importance of interoperability. Because of JPS' team, our communications techs and users are very capable of operating and maintaining our assets. However, we do have a concern about purchasing replacement equipment and potential problems with upgrades.

"I was taken completely off guard regarding Raytheon's plans to shut down JPS. Due to the amount of JPS equipment Alabama has deployed across the state for emergency/disaster response, I would have expected a courtesy call from Raytheon relaying their intention to close JPS. The absence of such a courtesy call could have put our first responders in harm's way."

One communications manager who works for a large agency in the South has more than 100 JPS interfaces and gateways deployed. The units are used daily, connecting radio resources across IP networks rather than copper phone lines. “They are often used in emergencies to tie resources together, forming a wide area network or sites and coverage,” he said.

The agency has purchased more JPS equipment that will require installation assistance by Raytheon JPS. “We have resources that are deployed and were being developed, and now there is no support or future availability,” the communications manager said. “We will have to reinvent the resources with different products, which sets back time, money, training and usefulness. We hope JPS can return as an independent company.”

After selling the company in 2002, Scott worked for Raytheon for six years before retiring in 2008. He said he realizes a company can’t survive without an ongoing technology roadmap.

“I know in my mind what needs to be done,” he said. “I know any ongoing process at JPS would require more engineering of product, which would be the evolution of the product to provide high-tech communications solutions. Being an engineer myself, products go through a product lifecycle and companies that survive have new products coming out all the time.”

Scott said he has made an offer to Raytheon, and the company is researching it. “I am researching where I think the company would need to go to grow and prosper,” he said. “I’m also investigating where the market has migrated. I’m having significant dialog with Raytheon to figure out a way to create a win-win for everyone involved.”

"Due to the outstanding customer service JPS provided the state over the last 10 years, I knew those guys weren't but a phone call away if we needed them," Alabama's Murph said. "Kudos to the people that made JPS a true servant of the first responder community and not just another public-safety communications vendor."

“We are telling our customers to be patient — that we believe someone will assume the company in a short period of time,” DH’s Hollingsworth said. “In the interim we are able to provide them some support from dealers, distributors and ex-Raytheon JPS employees who are graciously helping out.”

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Sandra Wendelken is editor of MissionCritical Communications and RadioResource International magazines. Contact her at swendelken@RRMediaGroup.com.

 
 
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Comments
On 2/25/16, JPS Support said:
IF you need assistance, email jpsengineer@pobox.com, and I will try to help.

On 2/24/16, Eric Bengue said:
How can we contact to JPS now?
Regards from Australia

On 2/17/16, Leon van der Linde said:
This caught us even more off guard. We have many systems with the JPS interoperatability units. This leaves us in a difficult situation. There is nothing that can really replace this. You now have to start from No 1. The customer does not understand. You promised him the company will be there for a long time. He now wants yoo to replace everything at your cost because you lied to him.
A courtesy would have been very nice so we knew where we stood.

On 2/17/16, Joe Leikhim said:
This is just crazy. JPS also has some terrific analog voters, which are the core of a lot of simulcast and mutual-aid systems. I am not sure there is even a competitive voter product I could recommend. It would seem a company like Raytheon would have thought this through and would sell this as a going concern rather than shutting down. I also agree this has public-safety impact.

On 2/12/16, Crammer Jean Silver-Coley said:
Sitting on GO over here, Don Scott


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