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High-Tech Qualcomm buys trucking services firm

Goodrich ‘Tires’ Of Name; Opts for New Corporate ID

Got your trucks in a row?

March brought word of two developments, which were unrelated except for the fact that both employ wireless and computer technology to help people keep tabs on trucks.

Qualcomm Inc. , which got its feet wet in the business world with its OmniTRACS product for big rigs , is taking on roughly 40 new employees and a new technology venture serving the trucking industry.

It’s acquiring the Trucking Information Services business unit of Cleveland-based Eaton Corp. That includes Eaton’s transportation logistics management system called FleetAdvisor.

FleetAdvisor includes hardware and a broad range of software applications for the trucking industry , things that help out with routing, scheduling, government-mandated record-keeping and more. (Get all the bells and whistles, and a global positioning system will automatically determine when a vehicle crosses a state line.) As part of the deal, Qualcomm will provide support to existing FleetAdvisor customers.

Specific terms of the deal were not disclosed. Qualcomm paid cash and promised additional money if Eaton helps sell FleetAdvisor software and OmniTRACS systems. Eaton, a diversified, $8.3 billion company, retains a portfolio of other products for the trucking industry.

Qualcomm and Eaton announced they’ll look into more strategic relationships.

Meanwhile, there’s news in the slow-moving, fast-hardening world of cement trucks.

A North County company specializing in affordable tracking systems for the construction industry, Wireless Data Solutions, Inc. and its Distributed Networks Inc. subsidiary (also known as Dinet), will buy technology developed by Sarasota, Fla.-based Goff Communications.

The technology incorporates sensors, a global positioning system and mapping software to help ready-mix concrete haulers. According to the Oceanside company, it will let construction company managers track cement trucks and their perishable cargo, know the status of pours and get word of possible job delays.

Goff Communications will receive cash, stock and royalties in the deal, and its president, Ken Goff, will sit on the Wireless Data Solutions board.

Wireless Data Solutions has administration and production in North County, while its headquarters are in St. Cloud, Minn. Its stock, traded under the symbol WDSO, closed at 73 cents a share March 5, when its 52-week range was 10 cents to $3.81.

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Comings, Goings At Goodrich: Charlotte, N.C.-based BFGoodrich Co. is changing its name , partially because people keep associating the company with tires. The company now concentrates primarily on aerospace.

Locally Goodrich runs what used to be Rohr, Inc. as its Aerostructures Group, and it’s broadening its presence by acquiring Humphrey Inc. from San Diego’s Remec, Inc.

BFGoodrich Co. got out of the tire making business in 1986, though Michelin still puts the brand on its tires.

If stockholders approve, the $4.4 billion company will drop its first two initials, and simply go by “Goodrich.” (The old name, incidentally, referred to company founder Benjamin Franklin Goodrich.)

BFGoodrich also dealt in specialty chemicals, but sold off that segment recently.

In other news, one Aerostructures project looks as if it has been permanently grounded.

NASA announced early this month that it will stop funding the X-33 space plane.

Aerostructures had been making the heat shield surface for the craft’s underside as a subcontractor to the vehicle’s builder, Lockheed Martin Co.

An unrelated component on the X-33 , a fuel tank made of lightweight, composite materials , failed during a test in November 1999. Last summer, before results of the investigation were made public, a spokesman for Aerostructures said the project was “on hold” but expressed confidence the X-33 work would continue.

Columnar Components: Point Loma Credit Union will convert to a data processing solution from San Diego-based Symitar Systems, Inc. in September. Helping the deal was the fact Symitar developed software to service the credit union’s sizable number of vehicle leases. Symitar is a wholly owned subsidiary of Nasdaq-traded Jack Henry & Associates. Engineers from two San Diego-based companies, Stellcom Inc. and Widcomm Inc., have teamed up to connect phones, laptops, mobile devices and personal digital assistants via Bluetooth short-range radio technology. Stellcom, a wireless integrator, will get access to present and future versions of Widcomm’s Bluetooth software, plus royalty-free licenses.

Send high-tech news to Graves via e-mail at bgraves@sdbj.com.


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