A Win-Win For Astro-Med and VT Miltope


Recently, VT Miltope announced the sale of the popular VT Miltope cockpit Ruggedized Printer Product line, which consists of rugged printers for use in commercial and military aircraft sold to aircraft manufacturers, tier one contractors, and directly to airlines around the world, to Astro-Med, Inc. VT Miltope has been an industry leader in cabin printers; as well as, cabin purser station devices, for 24 years and IFExpress thought our readers might like to hear why they sought out and found a buyer to carry the three printers (TP4429, TP4840, and nPrinter) to the next level while still maintaining a continuity of performance, quality and service.

As a seller backgrounder, VT Miltope is engaged in the design, development, manufacture and testing of rugged computer technologies and a family of aviation network products for military, industry and commercial applications and has been for more than 30 years. VT Miltope’s broad range of computers, tablets, handhelds, workstations, wireless products, servers, storage systems and other related products have served defense, government and commercial customers. VP Commercial Products, Bob Guidetti noted, “Astro-Med has acquired a product line that has been an aviation standard for 24 years and the proof is in the thousands of devices that have been sold.”

On the buyer side, Astro-Med was founded in 1971 and has been a world leader in data acquisition systems and ruggedized products for more than forty years. In the aerospace market the company started out with pen recorders and then developed ruggedized thermal recorders in the 1980’s for airborne and military applications. In the 1990’s the company invented full color thermal printing technology for the commercial label printing market. Then in the 2000’s Astro-Med’s thermal printer technology was adapted for use on the flight deck and cabin of commercial, business, and military aircraft.

We wanted to dig a bit deeper so we contacted Tom Carll, Astro-Med’s VP & Worldwide Director of Sales for Ruggedized Products, who told IFExpress that Astro-Med is a leading manufacturer of specialty high tech printing systems and data acquisition products. The products include color label printers and consumables sold under the QuickLabel Systems brand as well as rugged printers for avionics applications and data acquisition recorders sold under the Astro-Med brand. “Further, the fit of the VT Miltope Ruggedized Printer line matched perfectly with our Astro-Med printer line so the acquisition makes sense for us and our customers all over the world – it’s a win-win for both companies and it will increase our footprint in the flight deck.” He went on, “One of our goals was to be sure that there was complete continuity for existing VT Miltope printer customers during the transition, which is why we opted for a ‘cooperative acquisition’ plan in which VT Miltope and Astro-Med transition the manufacturing and service functions over the next 6 months. The printers eventually will be manufactured, sold and serviced in our West Warwick Rhode Island facilities when the transition is complete.”

The transaction closed on January 22, 2014. Astro-Med will fund the approximate $6.7 million cash purchase price with existing cash and borrowings under its credit facility. We note that Astro-Med purchased the assets of the VT Miltope printer product line less facilities and staffing. Here is the interesting part of the story – VT Miltope and Astro-Med entered into a manufacturing services agreement under which VT Miltope will continue to manufacture printers for Astro-Med for a period of time until Astro-Med transitions the manufacturing to its West Warwick, R.I. facility. According to Astro-Med’s CEO, “VT Miltope has been a leading supplier of ruggedized printers for the last fifteen years. The products have been consistently profitable and we expect the line to be accretive to our Test and Measurement product group earnings in the first quarter of ownership,” said Everett V. Pizzuti, CEO of Astro-Med. “The acquisition expands our penetration of the market for avionics printers, especially in the segment related to direct sales to the airlines.”

Since the deal looks like a winner for both companies, we asked about the VT Miltope decision to sell the printer line and a news release we found tells the whole story: “VT Miltope’s aviation market growth area is ruggedized computing and wireless products and services for in-flight entertainment and aircraft support. The divestiture of the airborne printer product line enables VT Miltope to focus our resources on the future core products,” said Julie Briggs, President and CEO of VT Miltope. From the IFExpress perspective, this is one of those deals that makes sense to the IFE industry and the airlines alike – one company purchasing a product line that compliments it’s line of products and strengthens its market connections to another company to use the proceeds of the sale to further strengthen their inroads in another (the cabin, to be exact). Mr. Guidetti told IFExpress, “I can’t say much now but stay tuned for some exciting cabin developments… coming soon!”

For more information contact rguidetti@miltope.com or tcarll@astromed.com

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