Electro Soft Inc., the custom electronics contract manufacturer located in Montgomeryville, Pa., has acquired Doylestown-based GWL Technologies.
GWL, also an electronics contract manufacturing company, has made a name for itself in the medical device industry. It was founded by George W. Longwell in 1987 and produces printed circuit boards, cables and more. As part of the acquisition, all four GWL employees will be added to the Electro Soft team, and Longwell will accept a role as a part-time advisor.
“George is well known for his engineering acumen, and we are fortunate to have him consulting for us,” says Karla Trotman, Electro Soft’s executive vice president. “GWL’s current clients are excited about this acquisition as well, as there will be no disruption in their supply chain. Their same products will be manufactured by the same assembly staff. In addition, the clients are able to have the ability to consolidate their PCB, cable, wire harness and enclosure assembly manufacturing needs by utilizing Electro Soft.”
Trotman says her company began acquisition procedures last year. “After almost 30 years of accretive growth, Electro Soft was looking for additional ways to expand the company. In 2016, we identified GWL as a strong choice. George Longwell was looking toward retirement, and one of our suppliers made the connection.”
“It’s a fine organization,” Longwell says of Electro Soft. “The first time I saw their production line, the first thought I had was, ‘Why didn’t I think of that?’ When I met the people and met the employees and saw their workmanship, I decided this was the right company. I’m very proud of it [the acquisition deal]. I feel very comfortable about it.”
Longwell, who recently turned 82, is a prominent figure in the electronics engineering field. One of his many achievements was a role in creating the original crying baby doll for toy manufacturer Tyco more than two decades ago. “I was doing some work with [Tyco] because my business at the time was making electronic circuits to custom requirements,” he says. “I got to know several of their engineers, and they had some ideas to create a toy that would make them famous. So myself and a couple engineers at the time worked on the [programming] … we started out with one word, then went on to short sentences and crying sounds … [The dolls] made quite a bang at the time!”
Like Electro Soft President and CEO James Wallace, who served a combined 40 years in the Air Force and Air Force Reserve before founding his Philadelphia-area company in 1986, Longwell is also a veteran. He served eight years in the Air Force, then another 20 years in the Army Reserve. “In between, I got my engineering degree,” he says.
“In the Air Force, I was a radar repair expert for the large radar that detected aircraft,” he says. “My biggest assignment was in the Arctic, at the Thule Air Force Base in Greenland, which had the largest radar back in the ‘50s, when everyone was afraid of Russia … I ran the one out on the icecap for six months … I remember it was pretty lonely out there! And I traveled across the northern part of the country whenever they had a problem — they’d come out with the C47 (Douglass C-47 military transport aircraft) equipped with skis to get me.”
Though he’ll be a part-time advisor, Longwell says he’s looking forward to retirement. Not that he’ll be sitting in a rocking chair. “I have a little shop in a bay of a three-car garage, so I’m gonna build radio-controlled cars and trucks and get into competitions with them … I can’t sit still!”