Victor Leviste, vice president of Strategy and Business Development with CAES, recently took part in the latest Executive Spotlight interview discussing with ExecutiveBiz his growth strategy for the company, CAES’ push into new markets such as space technology and satellites constellations as well as 3D printing and the launch of its CAES Additive Manufacturing Lab in 2022.
“We continue to be the partner of choice for aerospace and defense primes in contrast to others that are active in defense electronics at the tier three or four level. Our partnership approach tends to engage with the primes at a deeper level to help architect joint solutions earlier in the development process. This results in our technology investments better aligning with where our customers’ capabilities are heading.”
You can read the full Executive Spotlight with Victor Leviste below:
ExecutiveBiz: What are your core goals and philosophy to drive CAES growth strategy in such a competitive sector? With the new year only a beat away, what are you proud to have accomplished over the past year and what is next in 2022?
“My philosophy with CAES is to always drive differentiation and strategic importance in the market. That means driving novel technologies to lead in our sector, particularly in ways that are meaningful to our customers, as well as working with other companies to find ways to combine our capabilities and relationships and bring forward the best solution across our portfolios.
There are two things I’m most proud of from 2021, including the establishment of the strategic partnership with SWISSto12. That partnership has several parts to it with one of the biggest being the exclusive license to use their innovative technology to produce parts in 3D printing and several patents around specific designs. The partnership also includes a marketing license where we would utilize our manufacturing sites to bring those capabilities to U.S. markets while leveraging our established customer base.
The other major accomplishment was our acquisition of Colorado Engineering. Since last year, we’ve been working closely with them on several important technology projects and it’s been a very positive relationship for us both. With our combined success, we made an offer to acquire the company. Our cultures and operations mesh very well together and are going to be very complimentary for everyone heading into the new year.
As we move into 2022, our goals are to capture key programs in our core markets in space, electronic warfare and radar. We’ll make some announcements in the months to come, and we hope to continue to acquire additional companies in our core markets.
Our new ownership has definitely put us on a growth path and have helped us revitalize our acquisitions program and research and development. We will continue that campaign into 2022 as we acquire and develop new capabilities that are meaningful to our partners and customers.”
ExecutiveBiz: With CAES breaking ground in new markets such as space technology, LEO satellites and other key technologies such as microelectronics and RF applications, how will the company continue to establish itself in these new competitive markets to ensure your capabilities stay ahead of the curve?
“When we were acquired by Advent International in 2020, they brought top tier leadership to the company. We really have an unparalleled slate of talent within our board of directors, which includes former Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Gen. Kevin Chilton. We also have Rob Weiss, the former head of Lockheed Skunk Works, as well as the former head of Space Systems for Sierra Nevada Mark Sirangelo and our CEO Mike Kahn.
We continue to be the partner of choice for aerospace and defense primes in contrast to others that are active in defense electronics at the tier three or four level. Our partnership approach tends to engage with the primes at a deeper level to help architect joint solutions earlier in the development process.
This results in our technology investments better aligning with where our customers’ capabilities are heading. While others take a more commoditized vendor-style approach with a catalog-sale business model, we believe in partnerships.
We hope to drive our new research and development (R&D) initiatives in a way that matters for our customers. We have a few new products that I’d like to mention such the Gallium Nitride (GaN) based, high-power wideband RF amplifier, the Sensor Open Systems Architecture (SOSA) aligned, 3U wideband converter, and the industry’s first Single-Stage, Isolated DC-DC GAN Converter.
We also hope to continue to partner with other companies in order to integrate the best capabilities from the market and combine them with what we have to offer.”
ExecutiveBiz: How has the implementation of Colorado Engineering been going since Oct? What can you tell us about the advancement of RF and integrated microwave technology that will help the company address the greater challenges your customers are facing in the area?
“The integration of Colorado Engineering is going very well. As I mentioned earlier, we had a successful track record working with them prior to the acquisition. The company is growing and has a unique position in our industry. They enhance our systems engineering capabilities and enable us to engage with our customers early on as they architect their technical approaches to a particular program and enable higher levels of integration of key pieces of technology, especially in digital. We look at the acquisition as a key to our future in the sector.
There’s always this relentless push in the market for improved size, weight, and power (SWAP) and it’s been an overriding theme in our investments and technological approach. For example, the need to enable standoff distances for the warfighter has resulted in us investing in new high power transmit applications.
In addition, the need for next generation systems to address as much of the electromagnetic spectrum as possible has resulted in investments in new wideband approaches. It’s an exciting area and we’re working closely with our key customers to make sure they have the best of what’s available. We continue to push the envelope on what is possible.”
ExecutiveBiz: As the CAES Additive Manufacturing Lab continues to push for a 2022 opening date, what can you tell us about the facility and the impact that 3D printing has on SWaP and other manufacturing limitations and other benefits?
“A few weeks ago, we had an unboxing ceremony for our new 3D printing machine that will be integrated into the lab. We look forward to having that facility up and running around mid-2022 or so.
When you think about 3D printing, there are many benefits to the industry. Most importantly, it’s producing novel monolithic products that reduce mission costs significantly. Depending on your approach, you can get up to 30 or 90 percent reduction in weight and up to a 50 percent reduction in part count, dramatically reducing costs and complexity of integration.
The strategic alliance with SWISSto12 helps us overcome market barriers in adopting the technology. The primary barrier is the lack of standards, processes, and flight heritage. Recent developments in Europe and with NASA here in the US, have resulted in the establishment of materials process standards with regards to manufacturing 3D printing in metal. Additionally, key customers have recently established a track record of successful use of the technology in space.
Another benefit to the industry is technical innovation in manufacturing. The primary technical challenge of additive manufacturing in metal has been a poor surface finish that results in a degraded RF performance versus an equivalent product that’s manufactured traditionally. We have addressed this drawback by making software improvements to the actual 3D printing machines, as well as a post-print treatment to improve that product’s surface finish.
There are benefits to the industry in our depth of expertise and our industrial scale. At a billion dollars in revenue, we’re one of the largest manufacturers in the aerospace and defense market for our parts. We have several large manufacturing facilities in the US and we’re able to bring significant value to the entire industry by leveraging our decades-long track record of performance, our partnership approach, and our innovative technologies.”