Share this article:

Get the latest OC business and Coronavirus updates

It doesn’t appear that the local operations of Rockwell Collins Inc. will benefit from the recent push from domestic and international airliners to install plush and pricey premium seating.

The Cedar Rapids, Iowa-based company became the market leader in aircraft seat production this year after closing its $8.6 billion acquisition of B/E Aerospace Inc. in Florida. The buy included a facility in Anaheim that primarily designs, develops and services chilling systems for commercial aircraft. It also handles some chip production for chilling systems.

The purchase added between 250 and 300 employees to Rockwell’s local operation, which includes a legacy outfit in Irvine that develops cabin management systems for private and business aircraft, as well as moving map applications, streaming content services, and electromechanical systems for both airline and private/business aviation. The Irvine operation, which employs more than 570 people, also services and supports airline in-flight entertainment systems it installs.

“Time will tell if there are any synergies,” a Rockwell spokesperson told the Business Journal.

The company entered the year as the 13th largest employer in Orange County’s aerospace and defense sector, but should crack the top 10 this year as a result of the B/E Aerospace deal.

One local company in line for seat production is Lift by Encore, which will be the seat supplier for Indian airliner SpiceJet’s purchase of 225 aircraft from Boeing Co.

Startup Lift, one of four Huntington Beach-based aerospace companies launched by Jim Downey and Tom McFarland, will deliver its first seat sets at the end of the year for two airliners that have yet to be announced. Encore Group was No. 12 on the Business Journal’s list of the largest defense and aerospace employers here last year with 600 local employees, and could move up in October when our 2017 registry publishes.

Titan Demand

Newport Beach-based startup Titan Health & Security Technologies Inc. is seeking to raise at least $5 million in its first institutional funding round to expand R&D and its patented Next Gen 911 system nationally. The system allows users to broadcast campus emergency alerts, lockdowns, safety status and location to law enforcement, campus administrators and private businesses in the network.

“Additional venture capital funds would help us keep up with demand and continue to attract top talent for our team as it expands,” founder Vic Merjanian told the Business Journal.

The company has about six full-time employees and a growing backlog of deployments, pilots and demos.

“We’ve only deployed to half the users we’ve contracted with,” Merjanian said. “We’d love to be able to deploy immediately upon contract closure, and with more staff, we can do that.”

The company, which recently started generating revenue from its subscription service that charges per user, raised $2.2 million in seed funding last year that gave it a $20 million valuation, according to Merjanian, an attorney by trade who founded Kalfayan Merjanian LLP.

Titan has racked up about 250,000 users in its network since it went live about a year ago and is targeting one million by year-end.

Its customer base encompasses more than 114 sites in 44 states, including several local school systems. The company’s first pilot and contract was with Corona del Mar High School, Merjanian’s alma mater.

2nd U.S. Distribution Deal

The BlackBerry brand, relaunched this year by Irvine-based TCL Communication Technology Holdings Ltd.’s North America American operation, has established its second distribution deal with a major U.S. carrier in as many months.

AT&T Inc. began carrying the BlackBerry KEYone last week in “space black,” an exclusive version sold by the Dallas-based telecom giant. The phone, which features a sleek aluminum design, 4.5-inch touch display with Corning Gorilla Glass 4, an Android 7.1 Nougat operating system, and the brand’s trademark security and smart keyboard, costs about $500.

“We continue to see very strong support and sales for the BlackBerry KEYone throughout North America, and our introduction of the Space Black color variant at AT&T adds another carrier channel to our current device availability at Amazon, Best Buy and Sprint,” Steve Cistulli, president and general manager of TCL Communication North America said. “This launch momentum and expanded carrier and retailer availability are important steps to building a long-term, sustainable BlackBerry Mobile portfolio under TCL Communication.”

AT&T closed the second quarter with 84.7 million wireless subscribers and connections.

TCL lined up its first big U.S. distribution deal in late July with Overland, Kansas-based Sprint Corp., which is selling the device at retail outlets and online for about $400, or 18 monthly payments of $22.

The AT&T deal comes a few months after TCL launched the smartphone in Canada with four of the nation’s largest wireless carriers. The local unit of Chinese conglomerate TCL opted for retailers Amazom.com and Best Buy for the initial U.S. push. The device initially rolled out in 25 Best Buy locations, but the Richfield, Minn.-based retail chain now carries it at more than 300 stores.

TCL’s strategy, first reported by the Business Journal in January, is focused on winning back carriers and enterprise customers that have fled the once-influential smartphone brand over the past several years.

It signed a licensing deal late last year with BlackBerry Ltd. after the Waterloo, Canada-based company announced it would halt smartphone production and focus on software.

For digital licensing requests for this article, Contact Kim Lopez