A company known across the broadcast media landscape for its purpose-engineered antennas and RF systems for TV and radio broadcasters is just weeks away from christening a new 33,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Lewiston, Maine, some 25 miles north of company headquarters.
The Lewiston facility was secured to accommodate Dielectric’s rapidly growing spectrum repack business, and will produce all UHF main and auxiliary television antennas moving forward.
The new facility will employ approximately 50 employees, including a mix of new hires from the Lewiston area and veteran Dielectric employees that will, in many cases, work across both facilities.
Manufacturing Manager Mike Spugnardi will oversee daily operations and report to Dielectric VP/GM Keith Pelletier.
“This expansion represents the final phase of Dielectric’s three-year long preparation for repack,” said Pelletier. “We have focused effort on streamlining engineering and process flows throughout the company, including a revamp of the current manufacturing space in Raymond, but we waited to pull the trigger on this final manufacturing expansion until the repack demand was clearly set to ramp up.”
Pelletier notes that the engineering improvements helped Dielectric quote 905 of the 987 television stations affected by the spectrum repack. “Our planning is based on an unchanged 39-month overall repack window, and this new facility will ensure we keep up with the pace that the industry demands,” he said.
Dielectric’s repack business will include a large number of auxiliary UHF WB antennas that will temporarily support new channel assignments before permanent antennas can be installed; over 100 auxiliary antennas are currently in manufacturing or shipping to sites.
Pelletier expects that the total number of antennas produced at the two manufacturing facilities could easily exceed 1300.
“We started producing repack antennas on July 1, and we are rapidly ramping up to a capacity capable of producing 200 antenna systems every six months to keep pace with demand,” Pelletier said. “Our new building will have state-of-the-art indoor and outdoor facilities to design and produce UHF antennas, including a new outdoor test pad to verify performance of antenna products in advance of shipping.”
Production work on UHF antennas is expected to commence in October, with the first shipments following later in the quarter.
The continued production of all VHF and FM radio antennas; and RF systems including filters and combiners, components and transmission line will continue to be done at the company’s headquarters.