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This article was prepared for the April 3, 2002 edition of
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Princeton Lightwave Transforms
How does a new CEO transform a technology product-driven
organization into a customer oriented one? In his first weeks at
Lightwave, Didier J. Le Lannic featured the customer at the beginning
of every team meeting, and he continues this practice. "The best
way to say that the customer is most important is to talk about the
recent communication with the customer, whether it was a failure or
a success," says Le Lannic.
Le Lannic, a native of France, is in his fourth month at the Route
130 start-up. Since he came, as a result of the telecom downturn,
the young optical networks company has had to reduce its workforce
from 80 to 55. He is undeterred. "A lot of the market situation
is driven by fear and nothing else," says Le Lannic. "There
is a need for technology."
Princeton Lightwave’s CEO has been in the United States for nine years
and in his 18-year career has worked in all the areas of
business. "I decided 15 years ago that my prime driver in any
business would be the consumer," he says. "The customer is
the most important person on the team. If you don’t satisfy them you
are going to lose them. And if you don’t attract new customers, you
don’t have a business. We want our people to understand that the
The best way to satisfy customers, he believes, is to keep them
at every step.
"What makes the difference in a great leader from an average one
is communication. We never over-communicate. We say over and over
again the same values," says Le Lannic, who hearkens back to the
torture of learning the multiplication table by repetition. "I
hated it, but I became pretty good at calculating very fast. The best
way to learn something is to repeat it over and over again, and one
way or another it gets through the brain."
Princeton Lightwave is the photonics company that has its roots at
the Sarnoff Corporation. Founded in May, 2000, it has an unusually
valuable portfolio — the exclusive rights to the Sarnoff’s key
optoelectronic intellectual property for telecommunications. With
55 employees in 90,000 square feet, including a highly automated
area, it has been shipping prototypes since last August, and aims
to be a leading provider of high performance active components for
next generation optical networks.
Princeton Lightwave Inc. (PLI) got a good head start
at Sarnoff, which had 10 years and $70 million in federal funding
to develop high-power components for long-haul applications (U.S.1,
May 4, 2000). "It is unusual to work in a startup where the team
is complete," says Le Lannic. "We have a world class factory
and foundry where we are manufacturing indium phosphide substrates
for optical components."
PLI raised $28 million in its first round of funding in May, 2000,
from Morgenthaler, US Venture Partners, and Venrock who own the
of PLI’s shares. Sarnoff has a minority stake. "Our current
facility has an output capacity of $60 million annually," says
PLI had $2 million in sales last year and believes it offers the
power pump laser modules available on the market. Though its rival
for these, Furukawa, claims a 70 to 80 percent market share, PLI
to dominate the highest power range. Among the potential customers
for such an advanced product are Corning, Lucent, Ciena, Alcatel,
Pirelli, Nortel and other major long haul players. Little competition
exists for another PLI product, a tunable laser component, called
a broadband gainchip. Potential customers for this include such
laser companies as New Focus, Iolon, and Blue Sky Research.
Le Lannic succeeded Greg Blonder as president and chief executive
officer. Blonder was the venture capitalist who served as an interim
CEO during PLI’s development stage, but the company also had another
CEO who lasted only a short while, John Pittman. Pittman came from
Nortel, the second largest global leading telecommunications equipment
supplier, and stayed just six months before deciding start-ups were
not for him and going back to an operations job in a large telecom
Le Lannic’s most recent job was as general manager of the only
division at a public company, Zilog Inc., based in Campbell,
At Zilog, a leading provider of embedded and integrated circuits for
networking and wireless equipment, he developed new product lines
that were responsible for 45 percent of sales. He has also been
manager of Adaptec, a storage access solutions provider and held
positions at Pertec Memories Inc. and Alcatel Thomson Gigadisc.
The oldest of three children, Le Lannic grew up in
near Nantes, and his father, who had a blue collar job, managed to
give him a Jesuit education — a BA in electronics and two master’s
"I have never liked the feeling of being second and have tried
to be at the top of my class since I was a little kid," he says.
"I had tough parents who dedicated a lot of their financial
to my education. I am very demanding on myself and I expect no less
from my people." He and his wife live in Princeton with their
two school-aged children.
His first and biggest challenge is to transform the company from being
technology driven to being market driven. When he arrived, he found
an amazing technology trove: 20 staffers with PhDs in diverse areas.
He has just hired a chief financial officer, George Roberts, a Siena
College alumnus who studied global management at INSEAD in
France. A General Electric veteran, he had been a CFO in two telecom
companies — including a start-up acquired by Lucent, Spectran,
and a mobile wireless data in Nebraska.
Now Le Lannic is in the process of hiring a vice president of sales.
"The management team that I have started to build will have people
who are very seasoned, who have built products in large volume, and
who have a sense of the market."
"I don’t think local but very global. One of my strengths is to
build teams that are world class. That’s what attracted me to PLI.
Not only do we have a world class team, but it is unique in its
talent, experience. This company is a Sarnoff spinoff and the core
of the team comes from there. We have five different domains that
very few can claim access to."
His next challenge will be to leverage the technology and product.
Before that happens, the market will need to get better. "It is
true that the whole market has significant downturn," Didier says,
"but nonetheless the Internet is still fueling a tremendous growth
for communication. Whether the industry is scared or not, the need
for bandwidth will continue to increase and there will be a need for
optical components, especially in the U.S. but also in other areas
of the world. When you look at China, for example, a very large
without a solid infrastructure, it is going directly to an optical
network. The infrastructure that China will buy will need Princeton
Lightwave laser components."
Cranbury 08512. Didier J. Le Lannic, president and CEO. 609-925-8100.
Princeton 08540. Matt Brickner, manager. 609-799-2863; fax,
After 13 years doing business practically next door to Princeton
Kinko’s Copy Center has moved out on Route 1 and into Nassau Park,
the big box shopping center that has Wal-Mart and Home Depot. The
move was scheduled for November but did not take place until the
of March 23 and 24.
Just nine employees are working here now, in 6,300 square feet, but
hiring will continue. The 24-hour operation has oversize copies,
rental, and a Kodak PictureMaker kiosk.
Suite E-30, Princeton 08540. Balakrishnan Kavikkal, president.
Servion Global has moved from one suite to another on Emmons Drive,
from G-30 to E-30. A spokesperson declined to provide additional
but said that the firm does business response solutions and has 15
employees. With offices in five cities in India, the company has
in the United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, Sri Lanka, Singapore,
Australia, and another U.S. office in California.
It offers business response solutions for the financial, banking,
insurance, hospitality, and telecommunications industries and has
300 employees worldwide.
Park, Suite 205, Marlton 08053. Chris Hartman, regional manager.
After one year on Centre Drive in Jamesburg, Chris Hartman closed
an office on Centre Drive in Jamesburg and moved to Marlton on March
15. Phone and fax are new. Based in Indianapolis, the 10,000-person
company offers stents and other devices for cardio and vascular
08540. Ed Kornstein, president. 609-924-1667; fax, 609-924-2413.
After 34 years ORS Automation is out of business, and
has vacated 8,000 square feet at Research Park. It pioneered in the
field of machine vision, development, production, and installation
of microprocessor-based vision systems for industrial use. At its
peak in the mid 1990s it had gross sales of $1.4 million.
ORC’s vision systems combined PC-based computing hardware with
vision software for use in fields, such as machine guidance and
machine control, robotics vision, product identification and product
inspection. It developed easy-to-use man-machine interfaces to
Michael J. Hartnett, president and CEO. 800-390-3300; fax,
The manufacturer of roller bearings has moved from Trenton to
THE REPORT PUBLISHED ABOVE THAT THE MANUFACTURER MOVED TO FAIRFIELD IS
IN CORRECT. OPERATIONS ARE IN PLACE AT 400 SULLIVAN WAY IN WEST
TRENTON. ONLY THE HEADQUARTERS HAS MOVED. U.S. 1 REGRETS THE ERROR.
Jamesburg 08831. Thomas J. Hayes, project director. 609-655-0102;
The energy services company is taking calls from a Texas location.
Based in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, it works with major utilities to
Ewing 08628. Ralph Borras, vice president. 609-406-1300; fax,
URS Corporation (NYSE: URS) has closed its office at 340 Scotch Road
in Ewing. Spokesperson Judith Lillard says that location became part
of URS, an engineering and construction firm, as part of an
three years ago. She was not able to say whether employees at that
office had been transferred. Formerly known as O’Brien Kreitzberg,
the corporation has 300 offices in 30 countries. In New Jersey, it
has offices in Cranford, Florence, Newark, and Totowa.
Box 530, Trenton 08625-0530. Helen Shannon, executive director.
replacing the acting director, Lorraine Williams.
Building Four West, Suite 110, Box 6400, Lawrenceville 08648-6400.
John Januszewski, COO. 609-896-0555; fax, 609-896-2666.
Jardine Sayer, the American subsidiary of a British re-insurance firm,
has posted a name change to JLT Re Solutions, says John Januszewski,
who has been chief operating officer for the last decade. He says
that changing from names to initials more accurately reflects the
name the British parent firm uses, which is Jardine Lloyd Thompson.
The company was founded by John D. Sayer in 1979. Jardine Sayer bought
80 percent of it in 1989 and kept the Sayer name until 1994. With
47 employees in 15,000 square feet at the Princeton location, the
company trades as JLT on the London exchange.
Seekers Realty Company and Multiple Rental Services in Hamilton.
engineer with Aeronautical Research Associates of Princeton (ARAP),
he discovered a solution for the Navier-Stokes equations for fluid
administration at Mercer County Community College and with the state
Department of Education.
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