By Don Buska, N9OO
In May of 1977, the James Millen Manufacturing Company, as many
of us have known it, closed their doors. However, what many people
do not realize is that Millen manufacturing went on. In a release
letter from James Millen he states "Now it is time to
slow down and let my younger colleagues carry on." The James
Millen Company was sold off into three separate organizations.
At the time they were Caywood Electronics, Inc., MuShield Company,
and Electronic Instruments & Specility Corp. You will notice
that none of the companies retained the Millen name. This was
done at the directive of Mr. Millen and he originally retained
the rights to the Millen name. As you will read below this eventually
changed and two of the three companies again use the Millen name
in their titles.
Caywood Electronics, Inc., was started by Mr. R. Wade Caywood
who was at one time a Chief Engineer at Millen and later Vice
President and General Manager. Caywood had been an employee of
the James Millen Company since around 1941, very near the beginning.
If you view some of the schematics here on the Millen Page you
will notice Mr. Caywoods initials (R.W.C.) on most of them. In
1987 Caywood was bought out by Ralph Jannini, KA1FAA, and added
the name James
Millen Electronics, A division of Caywood Electronics, Inc.
The company is located in Andover, Massachusetts. In the Millen
tradition, James Millen Electronics manufactures many of the original
components, such as air variable capacitors, high voltage switches,
ceramic insulators, etc. Almost any of the Millen components would
and could be manufactured by Millen Electronics provided that
the demand were high enough to warrant production setup. In addition,
much of the electronic equipment is actively being produced, including
such items as transmatches, oscilloscopes and the grid-dip meters.
The later are still widely used in the paper industry. Current
prices on their solid-state dippers have essentially placed them
out of the reach of most hobbyists pocketbooks though. Also in
production are precision cable delay lines used by the government.
When Ralph purchased Caywood he also renewed the Millen name and
trademark and has advertised in the Amateur Radio Mail Order Catalog
and Resource Directory published by the American Radio Relay Leaque
(ARRL). In addition to his Millen work Ralph operates the Unadilla
Antenna Manufacturing Company and Andover Books. Unadilla produces
and distributes antenna baluns, traps, insulators and coaxial
Mr. Jannini is a native of the Malden Massachusetts area and grew
up near the original Millen plant. He has fond memories of stopping
by the plant for assistance with such "technical" requirements
as getting the flat tire fixed on his bicycle!
A second company to come out of the 1977 division was Electronic
Instruments & Specialty Corporation (EIS). EIS created a division
called the MC Division. Although there was no indication for the
letters MC, perhaps because James Millen still retained the Millen
name rights, it is obviously an abbreviation for "Millen
Components". I could only find limited advertisments for
this Millen breakoff company, one being a small ad in the November
1981 QST magazine. With former factory manager, Alvar Melin and
office and order control manager, Angelo Caputo retaining their
past positions, the new company was formed under the new president
Robert Painter. Under Mr. Painter's direction the name had been
changed to Millen
Manufacturing Division (Millen Hardware on their webpage)
of Beta Labs, Inc. Beta Labs is located in Stoneham, Massachusetts.
This division primarily manufactures some of the original Millen
hardware, such as the high voltage connectors, shaft couplings,
shaft locks, ceramic sockets, right angle drives and counter dials.
The Millen Hardware Division was sold by Mr. Painter in December
of 1999 to Custom Metal Products Inc., Melrose, Massachusetts.
Now owned by former engineer/employee; Mr. Jacob Burke and Mr.
Francis Gardner. Custom Metal Products had been manufacturing
parts for Mr. Painter in their state of the art manufacturing
facility for some time and with the purchase of Millen Hardware
have taken over all manufacturing and assembly. In a quote from
Mr. Gardner, "The change in ownership has not only signaled
a new life into the product line it has also moved Millen back
toward its roots. Located in an old mill building near the Malden
Ma. line our home was once the home of National Radio."
The last of the three companies, and the only one to no longer
use any reference to the Millen name, is The
MuShield Company., Inc. MuShield was originally managed by
Mr. Owen (hap) Haszard, who was the former Millen shield specialist
in Malden, Massachusetts as part of the New England Metal Spinning
Company. MuShield moved to Goffstown, New Hampshire in 1989 and
is currently operated by Mr. David Grilli as a privately held
company. The MuShield found extensive use in early Millen oscilloscopes.
The current manufacturer carries on this product tradition by
providing magnetic shielding and monitor enclosures designed to
eliminate interference caused by EMI.
It is understandable how the Millen demise could have propagated.
The separation into three companies from a vertical manufacturing
company such as the James Millen Manufacturing must have been
an interesting process to manage for the initial owners. Although
not one of the three separate companies would be considered large
in comparison to todays multinational electronic manufacturing
conglomerates, they have all survived! MuShield appears to be
the most successful with estimates of up to $2.5m in annual sales.
This is probably due to their modernization and adaptation into
new areas of use for the magnetic shielding products produced.
For James Millen Electronics and Beta Labs it is through the demand
that exists for original James Millen designs that remain timeless,
which needless to say has placed them in a rather niche market.
I am personally indebted to these companies and wish them continued
success as they carry on the tradition of the James Millen Manufacturing
I thankfully acknowledge the kind assistance of Mr. Ralph Jannini
for his input and review of the material in this paper. Our frank
and open conversations about the Millen-after-Millen companies
has been instrumental in clarifying how the Millen namesake organizations
July 20, 1998