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Applied Computing Devices.

The building would look at home on the East or West coasts among high-tech centers like Boston's Route 128 or California's Silicon Valley. It won an American Institute of Architects distinguished-building award. It is a prototype for high-technology industrial site planning. It houses a company whose customers include the biggest names among telecommunications carriers and communications equipment manufacturers. The company is internationally recognized for designing and manufacturing what are known as "Systems that Manage Systems."

It may fit in on the coasts, but it's really in Terre Haute. The company is Applied Computing Devices Inc.

Located a mile south of Interstate 70 on Indiana 46, Applied Computing Devices sits high on its 180-acre site, surrounded by lakes and woodland. Canadian geese wander the peaceful campus. A high-energy company works inside the two-story tan-brick building, designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, the architects behind the Sears Tower in Chicago and the American United Life Tower in Indianapolis. ACD's 175 employees design and develop computer products that can be found in 30 percent of all telephone switching offices in North America.

ACD began in a garage 18 years ago, the brainchild of two Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology graduates, William Schindel and G. Roger Sherfic. It quickly became a noted supplier of computer systems designed to monitor telecommunications systems.

Today, the company has expanded to provide integrated network and systems management applications for large data, voice and video networks around the world.

"A good deal of the world, more all the time, depends on complex systems to fly airplanes, coordinate peoples' activities keep track of factory production and do things that are increasingly complicated and getting more complicated," says Schindel.

"What has happened, as these things have become complex, they are too complex for anyone as an individual person to control or understand or keep up with. So the one thing that we know of that is big and complicated enough to do it is other systems. And that's what we make."

ACD's systems basically do five things, Schindel explains. First, they help keep track of problems in other systems, often troubleshooting and solving problems before they happen. Second, ACD's systems control the performance of other systems, ensuring that other systems are delivering the appropriate capacity and performing as well as they should be. Third, ACD's products handle security for systems such as national communications networks. Fourth, they adjust other systems' configurations, allowing them to take on different functions and shapes. Finally, ACD's systems keep track of other systems' size, content and use. ACD is unique in its field because it configures its strategic building block products around its customers' systems.

ACD's customer list is indicative of its leading position in the industry. Names like AT&T, Alltel Corp., Ameritech Corp., Bell Canada, BellSouth, Digital Equipment Corp., GTE, International Business Machines, Northern Telcom, Quebec Telephone, Sprint and United Telecommunications are just a few of ACD's prestigious patrons.

As it gained such high-profile customers, ACD grew, moving several times to allow for expansion. In 1985, the company--with help from the Indiana Department of Commerce and Ball State University--developed a campus for knowledge-based industries. Called Aleph Park, the prototypic high-tech campus is now home for ACD's two buildings: the manufacturing and corporate headquarters, and a training-and knowledge-based development center.

"We located ourselves in Terre Haute and then several times since made a decision to stay and expand here, because this is a talent and knowledge business," Schindel says. "Though we're supplying technology to our customers and we manufacture goods and so on, the engine that makes them go is a talent and knowledge engine, and we felt we were in the best possible location."

ACD aligns itself with nearby colleges and universities such as Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Indiana State University, Indiana Vocational Technical College and St. Mary-Of-The-Woods, as well as institutions like Purdue, Indiana and DePauw universities and the University of Illinois.

"There's a talent base that's here that's maybe a well-kept secret but it is particularly well suited to deal with complicated systems and high quality demands. It's a little bit ironic, because people tend to think--through some good marketing--that the technology centers of the country are maybe on the coasts, certainly in large cities. But lots of those places are on the downturn because they lost track, a little bit, of the strength that comes out of the human talent pool."

Rose-Hulman plays an important role for ACD. Across the road from the impressive ACD headquarters lies another ACD building on the Aleph Park campus that houses a joint venture between ACD and the undergraduate engineering school. It's a for-profit corporation, called the International Centers for Telecommunication Technology Inc., that uses the talents of Rose-Hulman faculty. ICTT is a "brains-for-hire business," Schindel says, specializing in technology-transfer engineering studies. It works within the same market as ACD but sells talent, while ACD sells products.

The future for ACD looks bright, Schindel says, laughingly claiming that the company has a 50-year business plan. It may be building systems for some of the world's biggest companies, but the high-tech campus still stands ready for other knowledge-based industries to move in. And as the area keeps working for ACD, it keeps working for the area.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Curtis Magazine Group, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Regional Report: Terre Haute & Western Indiana
Author:Hopkins, Marjorie
Publication:Indiana Business Magazine
Article Type:Company Profile
Date:Oct 1, 1992
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