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Tuesday, Feb 20, 2024

Southwest Antennas Finds Right Frequency

MANUFACTURING: Company Grows Revenue 5X Since 2017

The frequency is running high these days for Southwest Antennas.

Established in 2005 by Les Reading in San Diego, the company – which designs, manufactures and delivers antennas and accessory products for wireless markets – experienced 61.4% growth in revenue from 2020-22, with continued great reception anticipated.

SWA grew from $8 million in revenue in both 2019 and 2020 to $9.1 million in 2021, then hit $13 million in 2022. Its employee base also nearly tripled recently, from 59 employees in 2021 to a current staff of 140. Earlier this year SWA moved into a 25,000-square foot headquarters in Poway.

Benjamin Culver
Southwest Antennas

SWA has earned a global reputation for customer service, deep technical knowledge about antennas and wireless technology, and a commitment to finding the right solution for each customer, no matter how complex a need may be, says SWA CEO Benjamin Culver.

It manufactures more than 2,000 RF and microwave antennas of all types operating in frequencies up to 8.5 GHz, and offers a wide variety of accessory products, including antenna mounting solutions, block downconverters, low noise amplifiers and filter modules.

The company started in 2005 as a design consultancy out of a home garage in Lakeside. Reading invested $30,000 of his own money and found an investor who matched that in seed money – James G. Watt, who was President Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of the Interior, and a close friend of Reading.

“We paid James back in 2016 and we never took on any other investment since then,” Culver said.

With a host of contacts and friends in the microwave video industry seeking the design of novel and custom antenna products, Reading founded SWA in 2005. By 2009, Reading moved into a small facility off Balboa Avenue, where through 2012 the company’s revenues skyrocketed, from $100,000 to more than $1 million annually.

Customer Partnership Growth Strategy

Reading in 2013 connected with Culver, a U.S. Navy veteran and engineer, to help take SWA to the next level. The two worked on a business plan that was to grow the company from $1 million to $10 million in five years. Culver said the initial growth was exponential – from $1.5 million in 2013 to $4.5 million in 2014 – and that “we made it to about $9 million in six years.”

The company used its profits to rebrand the company, build a new e-commerce website and in 2015 put a new enterprise resource planning system in place that helped scale the company and all business processes.

Jeremy Wischmeyer
VP, Business Development
Southwest Antennas

SWA VP of Business Development Jeremy Wischmeyer has watched the company grow five times its annual revenue since 2017.

“We have a team that focuses on partnering with our customers,” Wischmeyer said. “Our strongest strategy is not charging non-recurring engineering services on opportunities that we believe in with our customers.”

Reading now is partially retired and still contributes to engineering projects, working mostly on high-level R&D programs.

Les Reading
Southwest Antennas

“Looking back at all that has happened over these many years, the best decision was to not to try to do everything alone,” Reading said. “Our market is far too complex and the details of corporate business in today’s world are far too overwhelming for that to succeed. Joining with Ben Culver was the best decision ever. Together, we surround both the technical and the business realities of a demanding high-tech marketplace.”

In addition to antennas, the company also provides a full range of technical services from initial product concept designs, antenna integration solutions and product manufacturing covering markets including broadcast video, military, law enforcement, homeland security, surveillance, aerospace, asset tracking, oil and gas, UAV/drones, cellular communication and more.

Culver said the company’s current goal is to increase sales to above $20 million with earnings of $4 million to $5 million, with the next goal “to grow the company to $30 million and then expand from there, and plan to take the company to $50 million by 2030.”

Southwest Antennas

FOUNDER: Les Reading
CEO: Benjamin Culver
BUSINESS: Manufacturing
REVENUE: $13 million (2022)
WEBSITE: southwestantennas.com
CONTACT: 858-252-2701
SOCIAL IMPACT: Founder Reading for decades has been donating to groups that work with homeless individuals to help them with everyday needs.
NOTABLE: The company anticipates growing to $50 million by 2030.


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