A year after the merger of L3 Technologies and Harris Corp., the product of that union — L3Harris — remains a growing presence in Londonderry, employing about 900 workers with plans to hire 70 more at its production facility there.
The defense tech contractor, whose portfolio includes night vision technology, has enjoyed additional resources for research and development, capital investments and other projects, and its new products will be improved, a company leader said.
“It really was a good cultural overlap between the two companies to make sure we keep our investment levels high,” said Lynn Bollengier, the president of integrated vision solutions in Londonderry.
New York-based L3 Communications acquired Insight Technology Inc. in Londonderry in 2010, adding the company’s night vision and laser rangefinder products to its portfolio.
After L3 Technologies and Harris Corp merged to form L3Harris last year, the two similarly sized companies became a company nearly double in size headquartered in Melbourne, Fla., Bollengier said.
Harris had about $6 billion in annual revenue, and L3 reported over $10 billion in sales in 2018. Today, the Londonderry plant is one part of a company that has a presence in over 100 countries, 48,000 employees worldwide and an annual revenue of $18 billion.
The company is divided into four segments; space, aviation, communication and integrated mission systems, which focuses on surveillance and reconnaissance technology. All four segments operate heavily in the defense industry.
The Londonderry facility is part of the communications segment, in the “integrated vision solutions” sector.
Bollengier said the merger has had a number of positive impacts on the New Hampshire facility, particularly the will and resources to reinvest in the optical and laser products produced in Londonderry.
She said the L3Harris merger has pooled funds for R&D into new products, bid and proposal funds, and capital funds for infrastructure and equipment for assembly and testing.
It also took a collection of facilities and divisions and got them to work together in ways that were too difficult to pull off before, she said. That included bringing in subject matter experts in technology or production and testing methods to train engineers and workers in Londonderry.
“The merged company has a tremendous amount of resources, and I think we have seen that in a few areas come to fruition here in Londonderry,” Bollengier said.
It also meant getting traditionally separate technology sectors to share ideas and team up to develop products that integrate various components. Such is the case with a product the company is developing that will combine night vision optics that Londonderry specializes in with mobile radio technology developed by a former Harris facility in Rochester, N.Y., Bollengier said.
Integrating the communication tech into weapons sights or goggles would mean the company would be able to gain a competitive edge when bidding for contracts, and men and women in uniform who use the products will see an improvement in the size, weight and power of the devices, she said.
“That’s the most exciting part from a strategic standpoint,” Bollengier said.
She said some of these integrated products will soon be unveiled.
The pooled resources has also led to some cost savings, Bollengier said as various divisions can work together to order components from common suppliers, consolidate demand and negotiate better to achieve more economies of scale.
“And that leads to better prices for our customers or cost savings that we can roll into investments,” she said.
Bollengier said there wasn’t a lot of product overlap between the precursor companies prior to the merger, but there was some overlap in the night vision sector since Harris Corp had a company that developed a night vision system in Roanoke, Va., as well as the image intensification tube component that certain night vision devices use.
As part of the merger, the company divested the Roanoke facility instead of the Londonderry facility because it was the smaller of the two night vision operations, Bollengier said.
The night vision products developed in Londonderry use image intensification tubes produced in Arizona as the primary sensor. Only three companies in the world produce that component, she said.
When the companies merged, L3’s former CEO Chris Kubasik became the president and chief operating officer of the newly formed company, and William Brown, the former Harris CEO, is now the CEO of L3Harris.
Speaking to CNBC last month, Brown said the company revised its 2020 revenue growth projections from 5% to 7% to 3% to 5%, which is about $18.3 billion to $18.6 billion. The projection was revised because of the negative impact of COVID-19 on the aviation industry, he said.