Spokane Journal of Business

Pullman chip maker cuts work force in half

Blames Asian flu...

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Advanced Hardware Architectures Inc., a Pullman, Wash., company that designs and markets specialized computer chips, has laid off half of its 80 employees. The late-July cutbacks affected all of the companys departments.

Asian flu came to Pullman, says John Overby, the companys president and CEO. He says companies that sell computer peripherals are feeling the effects of Asias economic troubles. Advanced Hardwares chips are used in scanners, copiers, and printers, as well as in transmission and data backup equipment.

I expect a couple of flat quarters, but by December well be growing again, Overby says.

Advanced Hardware has grown steadily in recent years, increasing its work force to 80 in 1997 from 60 in 1996. Earlier this year it doubled the size of its facilities at the Port of Whitman by constructing a 25,000-square-foot addition to its building there.

Overby says he expects growth of 20 percent to 30 percent in 1999, mostly in the fields of data compression for copiers and printers and error correction for the communications industry.

Data compression chips replace repeated patterns with codes that take up less memory. Error correction chips automatically detect noise that corrupts data transmitted at high speeds and reconstruct the data without the mistakes.

The companys technology research wont be affected by the job cuts, Overby says. He adds that its important for high-tech companies striving to stay ahead to fund research that will develop tomorrows technology.

Advanced Hardware is working with Washington State University researchers to improve its technological capabilities, and is pursuing research projects at the University of Idaho and with the Spokane Intercollegiate Research and Technology Institute (SIRTI).

A previous project with SIRTI to find ways to increase the amount of information that can be stored on magnetic backup tapes was canceled this spring at the request of the Advanced Hardware customer for whom the research was being done. Now Advanced Hardware is in the early stages of arranging a project with SIRTI on error correction for digital data communication. That project application is now being reviewed, and no contract has been signed, so the dollar value of the work isnt available, SIRTI says.

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