Radiation Systems Inc. To Acquire Home Satellite-Dish Firm

Radiation Systems Inc. has wired itself to every segment of the communications antenna market with the recent preliminary agreement to acquire Laux Communications Inc., the Cincinnati-based manufacturer of home satellite dishes.

The acquisition would permit the Sterling, Va.-based company, which produces other high-technology antennas, to compete for a share of the rapidly expanding marketplace for the small dish-like antennas, which homeowners use to capture television broadcast signals.

RSI President Richard E. Thomas said that the acquisition, for an undisclosed amount in cash and stock, would help his firm guard against periodic lapses in some of its other market sectors -- domestic and international satellite communications, domestic and international military communications, point-to-point microwave communications and air traffic control.

"Both the government and domestic sectors are volatile markets," he said. "Some are high one year, then they fall away."

The company reported lower earnings for the most recent quarter: $783,000 on revenue of $7.3 million, compared with $970,000 on sales of $7.2 million for the same quarter last year. But the company said earnings should soon resume their upward trend.

Thomas likened the acquisition to RSI's expansion last year into the point-to-point communications market with the purchase of Mark Antenna Products Inc. from Anixter Bros. Inc., which is based in Chicago. The purchase of the Mark subsidiary greatly increased RSI's sales last year.

"We looked at all of the small antenna suppliers and found that Laux closely conforms to RSI quality," he said. "We expect Laux to capture a respectable portion of the market."

Thomas said the market for home satellite dishes is expanding rapidly, with about 34 companies currently supplying the products.

The majority of them are "mom-and-pop" operations, he said, and the Laux acquisition would put RSI among the top five in the field.

Laux makes two home satellite dishes -- one 6 1/2 feet and one 9 feet -- and had annual revenue last year of about $8 million. Virginia Power and Virginia Natural Gas have announced plans for the third year of EnergyShare, a fuel assistance program that began in 1983 to help needy people pay their home energy bills, United Press International reported recently.

The utilities are asking their customers to add up to $30 to their monthly bills as contributions to EnergyShare. The money will be distributed by local nonprofit agencies in the utilities' service areas to eligible people.

Last year, EnergyShare provided more than $467,500 in assistance to 11,350 people. A total of 3,225 familes were helped, including 1,810 children under 5,685 adults over 60 and 410 handicapped people. American Management Systems Inc., the Arlington-based developer of computer software systems for business and government, said it has won several new federal government contracts worth at least $37 million.

In the largest contract award in the company's 15-year history, AMS' federal systems group won a $30 million, four-year contract to provide data processing studies and technical assistance to the General Services Administration and other federal agencies in the Washington area.

The contract follows a similar one awarded in 1982.

Other new federal awards include: a $1.5 million contract with the Department of Education; a $3.5 million contract with the Veterans Administration; a $900,00 contract with the Bureau of Land Management, and $225,000 with the Army National Guard. Badische Corp. has announced plans to close one of its two acrylic fiber plants in Williamsburg in February, eliminating 130 jobs, according to the Associated Press.

"We deeply regret having to take this action, but we have lost several million dollars here over the last few years due to a number of factors, practically all of them beyond our control," Roger Zoccolillo, Badische's vice president for fibers and yarns, said Thursday.

The acrylic fibers and yarns plant has been operating in James City County since the 1950s, when it was opened by Dow Chemical. Badische took over the plant in 1978 and has its corporate headquarters nearby.

"There's a lot of gloomy faces from the ones who know they'll have to look for jobs," said John Keel, president of Local 1526 of the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union. "Even though we knew it was coming because of . . . imports, it's still hard to handle."

Some salaried employes will be offered an early retirement package, and others will be offered transfers to other Badische plants, spokesman Bob Taylor said.

Badische will continue to employ about 500 people at a second plant here and 300 people at its corporate headquarters in James City County.

Badische also operates plants in four other states and Canada. Last year, the company had record-high sales of $709 million, with before-tax earnings of $33 million.