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Our Company

COTSWORKS, LLC designs and manufactures rugged optical components and subsystems to operate in harsh environments. Products are utilized worldwide in commercial and military aerospace, military tactical, oil and gas, and other industrial markets. Founded in 2006, the company is headquartered in Cleveland, OH supporting the Americas and Asia while COTSWORKS GmbH, located in Fulda Germany supports Europe and the Middle East.

Over 100,000 mission critical rugged opto-electronic and interconnect products are produced each year in our state-of-the-art manufacturing facility. The company maintains a quality program with ISO 9100:2015 + AS9100D Certification and ATEX-compliance.

Our Mission

Our Mission is to enable a transformation from copper to optical networking with navigation, threat detection, and control systems networking at the world’s leading manufacturers of Industrial Military, Aerospace, and Communication systems.

 

Our History

2006

- COTSWORKS is founded in an unheated garage in Beachwood, OH.

- The 89x transceiver is selected for the Boeing 7e7 program.

- New facility built to process opto-electronic modules.

- AFDX media converters developed and used for testing the 7e7.

- Unique conformal coating process developed to increase optical transceiver durability in harsh environments.

2007

- COTSWORKS expands sales into international markets.

- WDM transceivers and passives ruggedized for Mil/Aero use.

- Dedicated manufacturing line developed for Fiber cable jumper assembly.

- Highest resolution optical test systems used to diagnose airplane cable faults.

- Epoxy applications developed to seal opto-electronics for harsh environments.

2008

- COTSWORKS celebrates rollout of the Boeing 787.

- Handheld optical test equipment resale helps OEMs test and use rugged optics.

- Complex cable assembly offered for Mil/Aero and Industrial applications.

- Design services for rugged optical networking created.

- Parylene coating services implemented to increase in-house capabilities.

2009

- COTSWORKS expands manufacturing facility with advanced ESD implementation.

- Rugged SX standard transceivers developed for ARINC 818 applications.

- Fiber cable facility expands with higher capacity equipment.

- ARINC 818 test equipment developed with automation capability.

- Major radar program selects COTSWORKS' opto-electronic assemblies.

- 10th employee is hired.

2010

- European sales reach 15% of revenue as EMEA adopts rugged fiber optic solutions.

- COTSWORKS achieves ATEX certification for Oil and Gas deployment.

- Elio and other industry standard termini capabilities are added.

- In-Line Ethernet media converter developed with sales in USA and N. Europe.

- 100,000th transceiver shipped.

2011

- COTSWORKS receives $650,000 loan from the State of Ohio to acquire additional manufacturing equipment.

- The RJ Transceiver is enhanced to support digital diagnostics, 5Gbps, and single mode fiber.

- Manufacturing facility space doubles to provide separate cells for transceiver solder, assembly, and test.

- New website debuts with easy access to data sheets and support documents.

- New website debuts with public access to data sheets and supporting documents.

- Enterprise software implemented with manufacturing support.

- 25th employee is hired.

2012

- COTSWORKS achieves ISO 9001 certification for design and manufacturing.

- The pluggable RCP transceiver ships at 10Gbps with native ARINC 801 support.

- Fiber optic cable services now supporting customers worldwide.

- Lightning Stick media converter now includes built-in TDR and Software.

- Facility expansion continues with ESD fixturing and monitoring throughout.

2013

- The RCP is upgraded for a new radar program offering 15 dB of link budget at 10Gbps.

- Fiber optic training is now offered on-site or at COTSWORKS.

- Engineering capabilities are expanded with improved team and mechanical and electrical software.

- Additional space is acquired for sales and marketing departments.

2014

- COTSWORKS is named as one of the top 100 fastest growing companies in Northeast Ohio by prestigious Weatherhead100 award from Case Western Reserve University's Weatherhead School of Management.

- Boeing Commercial aircraft begin to ship with a fiber to the seat IFE network connected by COTSWORKS' transceivers.

- The LC- Rugged (LC-R) is released offering an all metal, 1.25mm latching fiber connector attached with a screw.

- Fiber optic splitters for Multimode cable with Single Mode wavelengths manufactured in house.

- COTSWORKS ARINC media converters fly aboard Airbus aircraft.

2015

- The RJ SX is upgraded to 10Gbps supporting industry leading data rates in a small but rugged package.

- The RJ-SX and LC-R based assembly pass grueling military qualification over competitive products.

- The RCP is now offered in dual Transmit and/or Receive as well as standard duplex.

- Cabling services now include unique HD termini capability.

- COTSWORKS hosts ARINC meeting in hometown of Cleveland, OH.

2016

- Manufacturing areas added to support expansion of fiber optic cable assembly andextended burn-in test per Military specification.

- LC-R awarded US Patent # 9,417,407.

- 50th employee is hired.

2017

Interconnect

- Interconnect product platform adds ARINC 801 adapter, complex cable assembly, and plastic fiber optic products.

- Opto-electronic product platform adds the LAC-10G to the RJand the RCP- making three rugged industrial temperature 10Gbps form factors available.

- COTSWORKS opens sales office in Fulda, Germany to support continued growth in EMEA markets.

- TAO awarded US Patent # 9,678,287

- AS9100C certification achieved in upgraded facility with production capability of 250,000 units/year.

- W.L. Gore & Associates recognizes COTSWORKS as value-added distributor of cableand expert termination services.

- 75th employee is hired.

2018

- COTSWORKS create GmbH in Fulda, Germany dedicated to serving EMEA customers.

- LC801 awarded US Patent # 9,885,835.

- LAC awarded US Design Patent # D830,310

- The LC-Tounge (LC-T) is released offering an all metal, 1.25mm latching fiber connector secured with a non-deforming metal clip.

- AS9100D certification achieved.- Credit facility increases to $4.5M, strengthening banking relationship with KeyBank to support continued growth.

- JobsOhio awards COTSWORKS with $1.2M R&D grant for the development of a Fiber Optic Research Center of Excellence.

- 5th patent awarded

2019

Current

- COTSWORKS expands to 100+ employees.

- LC-T awarded US Patent #s 2019/084400.

- 100,000+ parts shipping per year.

- Noah Davenport named as Best Intern finalist for the Expys Awards hosted by the Northeast Council on Higher Education (NOCHE).

- COTSWORKS is named as one of the top 100 fastest growing companies in Northeast Ohio for the second time by the prestigious Weatherhead100 award from Case Western Reserve University's Weatherhead School of Management.

- Facility expands to 30,000 sq. ft.

- 100th employee is hired.

Our Team

 

  • Ken Applebaum
    Chief Executive Officer
    Ken Applebaum
    Chief Executive Officer

    Ken Applebaum is the Founder and CEO of COTSWORKS based in Cleveland, Ohio and Fulda, Germany. COTSWORKS is an innovative manufacturer of rugged optical components and subsystems for harsh environment networking and sensing applications. Ken founded the company after a 20-year career in electronics, embedded engineering, and optics. Since founding COTSWORKS, Ken has designed unique optical networks for some of the world’s leading OEMs of commercial and military avionics, tactical military systems, and restricted-access U.S. Government manufacturing and vehicles.

    Ken has presented papers at various avionics and fiber optics industry events and conferences and has numerous patents awarded, and in process, for harsh environment fiber optics. He resides in Cleveland, Ohio with his wife, three sons, and two Labradors who help keep an eye on COTSWORKS.

  • Marc Simms
    Vice President, Sales
    Marc Simms
    Vice President, Sales

    Marc A. Simms is the Vice President of Sales for COTSWORKS based in Cleveland, Ohio and Fulda, Germany. Marc joined COTSWORKS after working in the Military, Aerospace, and Medical sectors for over 20 years. During his years in the industry, he has worked with aerospace suppliers, government entities/military divisions, nuclear power/scientific divisions, medical manufacturers, prime contractors, and other related fields to design electrical and optical solutions for civil and military aircraft, naval surface/sub-sea vessels, armored vehicles, heavy industrial machinery, soldier wearable technology, and secure communications using PAN/LAN/WAN. In 2013, Marc was awarded the USAF Director’s Award by Col. Gutterman, Director of the F-22 Special Programs Office, for his contributions in designing a solution to the critical issues experienced in the F-22’s Life Support System.

    Marc has been with COTSWORKS since 2016 and has brought his diverse background and skill to help the company grow and expand into a truly global corporation with worldwide product distribution and sales.

  • Meredith Peck
    Chief Financial Officer
    Meredith Peck
    Chief Financial Officer

    Meredith Peck is Chief Financial Officer at COTSWORKS. She oversees the accounting, finance, and human resources functions and is also responsible for accounting systems, banking relationships, financial planning, and employee relations. As a member of the executive management team, she helps set the strategic direction for the company.

    Meredith joined COTSWORKS in 2016 with over ten years of banking experience in various leadership roles in internal control and audit positions. Meredith is an alumna of PricewaterhouseCoopers and served as an officer in the United States Coast Guard through three tours of duty. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Operations Research from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and has a Master’s in Accountancy and MBA in Finance from the Weatherhead School of Management

  • Ray Wymer
    Chief Operating Officer
    Ray Wymer
    Chief Operating Officer

    Ray Wymer currently serves as Chief Operating Officer at COTSWORKS.

    Prior to joining the company in 2018, he spent 20 years as the co-founder and Vice President of Maximal, a consulting firm specializing in Industrial Product Management. While at Maximal, Ray was a resource to business owners and product managers worldwide in the design and implementation of strategic product planning processes along with coaching and training product and business managers.

    Previously, Wymer was Executive Vice president of the Multi-Connect products Business Unit for Digi International, a publicly traded computer communication company; was founder and President of Star Gate Technologies Inc.; and began his career working in Industrial Controls at Allen-Bradley as a Production Manager, Engineer, and Test Engineering Manager.

    Ray resides in Cleveland with his wife Theresa and enjoys spending time with his 5 children, 4 grandchildren, traveling, and making wine.

  • Bob Irvine
    General Manager
    Bob Irvine
    General Manager

    Bob Irvine joined COTSWORKS as the General Manager in the Summer of 2014. Bob has 45 years of career experience in Engineering, Manufacturing, Operations Management, and Technical Sales. Prior to joining COTSWORKS, he had worked for 11 years in International Sales Management. His industry experience includes Nuclear Power Generation, Mining, Crystal Growth, AC/DC Industrial Power Supplies, Glass, Solar, Fiberglass, and Automotive Electrocoating.

    Bob graduated from the University of Akron with a BSME and from Case Western Reserve University with an MBA.  He has presented technical papers in most of the above-listed industries, domestically and internationally. He also established sourcing, sales, marketing, and a WFOE manufacturing facility in Xiamen, China during the period 2004-2014.

    Bob has been married for 46 years to his high school sweetheart who was the “girl next door” where he grew up.  Bob credits that longevity due mostly to his traveling 50% of the time during most of their marriage. He has been blessed with two children and four grandchildren.

  • Tim Staggs
    Vice President, Engineering
    Tim Staggs
    Vice President, Engineering

    Tim Staggs currently serves as the Vice President of Engineering at COTSWORKS.

    Prior to joining the company in 2014, Tim spent 13 years as the owner of AspireTec, a design engineering consulting firm developing products for companies in NE Ohio. This included the development of many of the products that COTSWORKS has in production today.

    Previous to this, he spent 14 years as a design engineer in the Product Development Engineering group at Bailey Controls Company (Now ABB Automation). Bailey’s focus was in process control automation.

    Tim resides in the Cleveland area with his wife Lori and enjoys spending time with his 3 children, 2 grandchildren, while pretending to be a race car driver with several local Autocross clubs.