Home >> July 2008 Edition >> Letters To The Editor: Homage To Excellence
Letters To The Editor: Homage To Excellence

Dear Editor,

For me, two of the most important standards to live by are honor and integrity. This has also served me well in business practices. However, as we all know, it is not uncommon to encounter and endure less savory entities during our journeys.

I learned long ago to cultivate the honorable, not to compromise one’s principles, and to stand by those who share those lofty endeavors, personally and professionally.

I took a serious risk twenty years ago when I walked away from my lifelong dream as a foreign correspondent to concentrate on my personal family responsibilities. At that time, while based in Tokyo, I hocked the farm to buy a used Ku uplink truck, hired six people to start a television news service based in the California Capitol, and began to build a transportable uplinking business that has taken our teams around the world.

Over the years, we met and worked with some absolutely wonderful people… and some less so. When we found respectable companies and people to work with, we nurtured and protected those relationships. This was an important key to our continued success. We have clients and vendors we’ve been working with for more than two decades—and some we will never do business with again.

One of the most outstanding people I met during this cycle of my life was semi-retired. He was tinkering around with some ideas to keep his keen mind working and was getting some sales, however, nothing on a grand scale. His knowledge of the satellite industry was phenomenal. He was well educated, being one of the elite graduates of one of this nation’s finest universities, Georgia Tech. He completed post graduate studies at Stanford. He also earned accolades for his time at Lockheed-Martin, Scientific Atlanta, and he co-founded SatCom Technologies..

Several years ago, when I couldn’t locate any “traditional” antenna manufactures to build for my company a 1.8-meter clamshell antenna to fit on a small Ford Econoline van, I was told that he could handle the task. We were already sold on his Roto-Lok cable drive antenna positioner, and all we had to do was convince him to take a risk. To this day, we’re still using that AVL antenna.

Jim Oliver took the classic entrepreneurial leap, kick-started a new phase of his life, and developed some great products with his company, AVL Technologies.

His antennas are sold around the world in great numbers. His success is remarkable and well earned. He’s an easygoing, humble, soft-spoken techno wizard that truly knows his business. What sets Jim above so many others isn’t just his vast knowledge—it’s his and his staff’s dedication to reliability, quality, innovation, and sterling customer service. This is the salient stuff of dreams.

Not only do uplinkers like me buy his products, but there are also others who subcontract AVL to build parts for their products. That’s a testament to one’s success, which Jim has thoroughly earned.

But, you might be surprised to learn that a major manufacturer, one that has paid AVL to incorporate its’ patented Roto-Lok cable drives into some of their antenna systems, has apparently been influenced by the dark side of the force. That company is now copying and selling that technology in their systems. Some might call this patent infringement. Others might say Jim’s pocket is being picked. No matter how you cut it, this is a shabby way to treat a business partner.

During a trade show earlier this year, I heard the dirty whispers about the pirating of AVL’s technology. Many were examining the reproductions of Jim’s handiwork. Many others and I asked Jim about it and he said he was talking to “them” and was looking for a patent savvy attorney. My approach then, and now, is take no prisoners. Go for the throat.

Despite Jim’s efforts, it would seem the big bad wolf is trying to use its bazillions to out lawyer and intimidate him by engaging him in a war of attrition. This situation is as despicable as it is disgraceful.

There is no question that what is going on is shameless. We want nothing to do with such perfidy. Jim Oliver and his team have performed admirably and now they have been bushwhacked. The offenders were not wearing masks or carrying guns. They could certainly incorporate such elements into their new logo, along with the Jolly Roger’s skull and cross bones flying over their corporate headquarters.

Hang in there, Jim. Don’t give up the good fight. We’re with you!

Steve Mallory
Sacramento, California