New Midwest AeA chair looks to boost corridor
March 7, 2005
BY MICHAEL KRAUSS
Marty Singer, 53, CEO
of Chicago based PCTEL, the Nasdaq-traded maker of software, antennas
and test equipment for mobile service providers is adding responsibilities.
is the new chairman of the recently reopened Midwest Council of
the American Electronics Association, one of the nation's top
technology advocacy groups.
A seasoned entrepreneur
and communications industry veteran with a history of revitalizing
tech companies, Singer is the first new chairman of the Midwest
Council since it reopened in November.
At AeA, Singer aims
to turn around the once-prosperous I-88 tech corridor and help
smaller tech companies get relief from costly Sarbanes-Oxley compliance.
suffered," Singer says. "People used to talk about the
I-88 technology corridor. Now you see empty buildings. I think
the AeA can help promote the capabilities of Illinois."
puts him on the AeA's national board. He was in Washington last
week lobbying hard for Sarbanes-Oxley relief. Singer praises the
intent of the federal law requiring more accounting oversight,
but fears the cure is worse than the disease. "The implementation
has been incredibly harmful to small technology companies,"
Small public companies
pay 5 percent or 6 percent of revenue to comply, he says. That
can cost jobs. "Sarbanes-Oxley can cost $1,300 per employee
to implement in a small tech company."
AeA's 2003 Cyberstates
report places Illinois seventh in high-tech employment with 238,416
jobs. That could change when AeA updates the numbers in May.
Singer is repatriating
manufacturing jobs to Illinois. When PCTEL bought product lines
from Andrew Corp., Singer closed factories in Mexico consolidating
operations in Illinois. He's adding 45 jobs with no state aid.
At PCTEL Singer inherited
a once-high-flying modem maker that offered a new breed product
for $24 when competitor's modems cost $240, Singer says. The economic
downturn and cost pressure from Asia pushed modem prices to $1.85
when Singer arrived in 2001.
The company lost $55
million on $41 million in revenue. During his first year, Singer
boosted revenues to $49 million and turned a profit of $6.5 million.
IP to profits
was predicated on gaining commercial value from PCTEL's intellectual
property. It was a skill he acquired in the 1990s as a vice president
at Motorola. After cutting costs in the modem business, Singer
generated $40 million in intellectual property revenues. He used
those funds to buy companies supporting wireless mobility.
was CEO of Safco, a testing equipment provider. He groomed Safco
for sale to Agilent Technologies. The company, which had been
bought for roughly $30 million, was sold for an estimated $122
million, according to Singer.
Before PCTEL, Safco
and Motorola, Singer held positions at Tellabs and AT&T, where
he worked in the Bell Labs.
follows the naming of Ed Longanecker, 32, as AeA Midwest executive
director. "Marty is very well-respected locally and nationally,"
Longanecker said. "He cares about high tech in Illinois."
Maybe Singer can continue
his turnaround magic on Illinois tech.
Three locals were named
to the Fast Company annual Fast 50 list:
*Pat Spain, CEO of
High Beam Research, made the list for founding the company that
blends the benefits of free on-line services like Google with
paid services like Lexis-Nexis.
president of Banco Popular North America, was named for expanding
the mandate of the bank.
*Ray Lauk, superintendent
of Lyons Elementary School District 103, convinced residents to
accept property tax increases to improve public schools.
BtoB magazine editor
Ellis Booker is crowing about Wednesday's NetMarketing breakfast
at the Hyatt Regency.
ad community wants to stay in the game they better show up,"
It's a good idea. Online
advertising is booming. Online ad revenues for 2004 are $9.6 billion,
up 32 percent over 2003 according to Booker. Speakers include
Dave Friedman, central region president, Avenue A/Razorfish; Dave
Cerino, general manager, Orbitz for Business; Kurt Baldassari,
director e-commerce, CDW; and Cindy Lieberman, marketing communications
director, Zebra Technologies.
Krauss is a Chicago area tech writer and consultant.