Updated - October 17, 2000|
Millen after Millen
By Don Buska N9OO
In May of 1977, the James Millen Manufacturing Company, as many
of us have known it, closed their doors. However, what many people do not realize
is that Millen manufacturing went on. In a release
letter from James Millen he states "Now it is time to slow down and let
my younger colleagues carry on." The James Millen Company was sold off into
three separate organizations. At the time they were Caywood Electronics, Inc., MuShield
Company, and Electronic Instruments & Specility Corp. You will notice that none
of the companies retained the Millen name. This was done at the directive of Mr.
Millen and he originally retained the rights to the Millen name. As you will read
below this eventually changed and two of the three companies again use the Millen
name in their titles.
Caywood Electronics, Inc., was started by Mr. R. Wade Caywood who was at one time
a Chief Engineer at Millen and later Vice President and General Manager. Caywood
had been an employee of the James Millen Company since around 1941, very near the
beginning. If you view some of the schematics here on the Millen Page you will notice
Mr. Caywoods initials (R.W.C.) on most of them. In 1987 Caywood was bought out by
Ralph Jannini, KA1FAA, and added the name James Millen Electronics, A division of Caywood
Electronics, Inc. The company is located in Andover, Massachusetts. In the Millen
tradition, James Millen Electronics manufactures many of the original components,
such as air variable capacitors, high voltage switches, ceramic insulators, etc.
Almost any of the Millen components would and could be manufactured by Millen Electronics
provided that the demand were high enough to warrant production setup. In addition,
much of the electronic equipment is actively being produced, including such items
as transmatches, oscilloscopes and the grid-dip meters. The later are still widely
used in the paper industry. Current prices on their solid-state dippers have essentially
placed them out of the reach of most hobbyists pocketbooks though. Also in production
are precision cable delay lines used by the government. When Ralph purchased Caywood
he also renewed the Millen name and trademark and has advertised in the Amateur
Radio Mail Order Catalog and Resource Directory published by the American Radio
Relay Leaque (ARRL). In addition to his Millen work Ralph operates the Unadilla
Antenna Manufacturing Company and Andover Books. Unadilla produces and distributes
antenna baluns, traps, insulators and coaxial relays.
Mr. Jannini is a native of the Malden Massachusetts area and grew up near the original
Millen plant. He has fond memories of stopping by the plant for assistance with
such "technical" requirements as getting the flat tire fixed on his bicycle!
A second company to come out of the 1977 division was Electronic Instruments &
Specialty Corporation (EIS). EIS created a division called the MC Division. Although
there was no indication for the letters MC, perhaps because James Millen still retained
the Millen name rights, it is obviously an abbreviation for "Millen Components".
I could only find limited advertisments for this Millen breakoff company, one being
a small ad in the November 1981 QST magazine. With former factory manager, Alvar
Melin and office and order control manager, Angelo Caputo retaining their past positions,
the new company was formed under the new president Robert Painter. Under Mr. Painter's
direction the name had been changed to Millen
Manufacturing Division (Millen Hardware on their webpage) of Beta Labs, Inc.
Beta Labs is located in Stoneham, Massachusetts. This division primarily manufactures
some of the original Millen hardware, such as the high voltage connectors, shaft
couplings, shaft locks, ceramic sockets, right angle drives and counter dials. The
Millen Hardware Division was sold by Mr. Painter in December of 1999 to Custom Metal
Products Inc., Melrose, Massachusetts. Now owned by former engineer/employee; Mr.
Jacob Burke and Mr. Francis Gardner. Custom Metal Products had been manufacturing
parts for Mr. Painter in their state of the art manufacturing facility for some
time and with the purchase of Millen Hardware have taken over all manufacturing
and assembly. In a quote from Mr. Gardner, "The change in ownership has not
only signaled a new life into the product line it has also moved Millen back toward
its roots. Located in an old mill building near the Malden Ma. line our home was
once the home of National Radio."
The last of the three companies, and the only one to no longer use any reference
to the Millen name, is The
MuShield Company., Inc. MuShield was originally managed by Mr. Owen (hap) Haszard,
who was the former Millen shield specialist in Malden, Massachusetts as part of
the New England Metal Spinning Company. MuShield moved to Goffstown, New Hampshire
in 1989 and is currently operated by Mr. David Grilli as a privately held company.
The MuShield found extensive use in early Millen oscilloscopes. The current manufacturer
carries on this product tradition by providing magnetic shielding and monitor enclosures
designed to eliminate interference caused by EMI.
It is understandable how the Millen demise could have propagated. The separation
into three companies from a vertical manufacturing company such as the James Millen
Manufacturing must have been an interesting process to manage for the initial owners.
Although not one of the three separate companies would be considered large in comparison
to todays multinational electronic manufacturing conglomerates, they have all survived!
MuShield appears to be the most successful with estimates of up to $2.5m in annual
sales. This is probably due to their modernization and adaptation into new areas
of use for the magnetic shielding products produced. For James Millen Electronics
and Beta Labs it is through the demand that exists for original James Millen designs
that remain timeless, which needless to say has placed them in a rather niche market.
I am personally indebted to these companies and wish them continued success as they
carry on the tradition of the James Millen Manufacturing Company.
I thankfully acknowledge the kind assistance of Mr. Ralph Jannini for his input
and review of the material in this paper. Our frank and open conversations about
the Millen-after-Millen companies has been instrumental in clarifying how the Millen
namesake organizations operate today.
July 20, 1998