Our Company

COTSWORKS, INC. designs and manufactures rugged optical components and subsystems to operate in harsh environments. Products are utilized worldwide in commercial and mil/aero, 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 + AS9100:D Certification and ATEX-compliance.

Our Mission

Our mission is to enable a transformation from copper to optical networking in navigation, threat detection, and control system networking at the world’s leading manufacturers of industrial military, aerospace, and communication systems.


Our History


- 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.


- 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.


- 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.


- 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.


- 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.


- 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.


- 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.


- 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.


- 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. Patent awarded: #014169/000008

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

- COTSWORKS ARINC media converters fly aboard Airbus aircraft.


- 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.


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

- LC801 patents awarded: #014169/000012, #014169/000020, #014169/000022, #014169/000023

- TAO patents awarded: #014169/000011, #014169/000017

- LAC patent awarded: #014169/000013

- 50th employee is hired.



- 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.


- COTSWORKS creates 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-T is released offering an all metal, 1.25mm latching fiber connector secured with a non-deforming metal clip.

- COTSWORKS implements enterprise ERP system

- 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


- 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.

- VFL-SFP patent awarded: #014169/005010

- 100th employee is hired.


- Multi-year product development plans created with 2020/2021 high-level roadmaps posted to COTSWORKS website, demonstrating alignment with mil/aero market needs.

- New product families released: MT-style parallel optical cable termination services, custom SM and MM Optical Sub Assembly components, and Rugged COTS Pluggables.

- Released first optical test device in SFP form factor; the patented VFL-SFP is a visual fault locator incorporating push button, i2C control, and remote operation.

- Implemented Enterprise-level Manufacturing Execution System (MES).

- Successfully completed virtual audits to maintain AS9100 & ATEX certifications.

- COTSWORKS GmbH continued to grow with new business relationships in EMEA.

- Ken Applebaum named NEO Manufacturing Hero on the Industrial Talk Podcast.

- Patents Issued: #014169/011011 LC-T, #014169/005010 VFL-SFP, #014169/000020 LC801


- Celebrated the 15th anniversary of operations at the top of 2021.

- Completed Vertical Integration of 1-10G 850nm TOSAs to expand product offerings.

- Developed FORCE, a USA-based ISO 10000 Cleanroom, capable of designing, testing, and qualifying optical sub-assembles (OSAs)

- Launched LIGHTLY, a new ARINC 801 Termini product capable of hand installation without additional tools.

- Released RJ-28G Transceiver with high-performance 850nm VCSEL and PIN supporting applications such as 25G Ethernet and 32G Fiber Channel.

- Continued growth with the support and new investment with Phoenix Venture Partners.

- Donna Rhodes, COTSWORKS’ Chief People Officer, named Finalist for Crain’s 2021 Excellence in HR Award

- Published roadmaps and development plans for future products, including RJ-3G-LX and RJ-10G-LR product lines

Patents: #11201709073S – LC801, #11194097 – Rugged Splice, #6118580 – Lightly (UK), #11079553 – ULTRA, #6563973 Lightly (Trademark)


- Released COTSWORKS 2022 Website Updates to provide visitors with engaging content and a better user experience.

- Announcing Tim Nevin as the new Vice President of Operations.

- RJ-28G-SR, RJ-10G-CWDM (EML), RJ-10G-DWDM (APD), LC-T801 Product Releases.

- Announcing $5.5 million credit facility with ERIEBANK.

- Ken Applebaum has been nominated and accepted to the advisory board for The Open Group’s Sensor Open System Architecture™ (SOSA).

- COTSWORKS presenting 28G at SAE AS-3 Fiber Optics and Applied Photonics Committee.

- COTSWORKS is now supporting 1-10G 850nm Multimode TOSAs and ROSAs designed within it’s FORCE facility.

- Fiber Optic Research Center of Excellence (FORCE) Phase II Update.

- Returned to participating and developing our community of engineers with our COTSWORKS Summer Intern Program.

- Celebrating its 5-year anniversary of operating our GmbH in Fulda, Germany.

- Attending SOSA FACE/TIM Expo and AUSA 2022 Annual Meeting and Expo.

- AS9100D & ISO9001:2015 recertification.

- COTSWORKS’ Product Platform Now Includes SDI Support.

- COTSWORKS’ Facility Updates and Improvements 2022-2023.

- Patents/Trademarks Issued: #6725504 Essential (Trademark).


- COTSWORKS successfully completes recertification of ISO 9001, AS9100:D and ATEX certifications.

- With 100+ employees and over 70k units shipped, it was the company’s biggest year in its history.

- The company further enhances its cybersecurity systems and practices, aiming to become a NIST certified small business.

- New Opto-Electronics product announcements included the rugged pluggable Essential transceiver, a single-mode RCP, and multiple rugged, MSA-compatible pluggable transceivers.

- New Interconnect product releases included a field-installable, rugged splice for both aircraft and rotorcraft applications. The company also added Plastic Optical Fiber (POF) Termini in Military form factors for Space Applications.

- Founder and CEO of COTSWORKS, Ken Applebaum, is named Chair of the SAE AS-3 Fiber Optics and Applied Photonics Committee and leads its Fall meeting. Ken also presents the company vision for fiber optics in Automotive networking at the ECOC show in Scotland in the Fall

- The company returns to the Paris Air Show with a video integration display integrating GORE fiber with COTSWORKS’ optical transceivers and interconnects to simulate an aerospace network

- COTSWORKS exhibits at MOSA industry event with 120Gbps bonded channel and 28Gbps single channel products demonstrations

- COTSWORKS service offerings now include test board modifications to become custom interposer boards

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.

  • Meredith Peck
    Chief Financial Officer
    Meredith Peck
    Chief Financial Officer

    Meredith Peck is Chief Financial Officer at COTSWORKS. She oversees the accounting, finance, information technology, and human resources functions and is also responsible for accounting systems, banking relationships, financial planning, system security, 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.

  • Donna Rhodes
    Chief People Officer
    Donna Rhodes
    Chief People Officer

    Donna Rhodes is the Chief People Officer at COTSWORKS. She oversees the Company’s human resources function and is responsible for the Company’s people strategy along with development and administration of the company’s HR policies, programs, and systems. As a member of the executive management team, she helps set the strategic direction for the company.

    Donna joined COTSWORKS in early 2018 as the Company’s leader of organizational effectiveness, culture and talent management. She serves as a strategic advisor and promotes initiatives that enhance the company's culture while working with COTSWORKS’ employees to achieve the company’s business goals.

    With over 20 years of experience, she has demonstrated her capabilities in a variety of leadership, general management, and consulting areas within human resources, organizational effectiveness, talent management, workforce development, executive coaching, as well as leading organizational change in growing, competitive companies.

    Donna earned a Master’s Degree in Organizational Development and Analysis from the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University. She holds professional certifications from the Society for Human Resources (SHRM-SCP®) and HR Certification Institute (SPHR®). She has served as a member, president, or chair for several organization boards to include Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northeast Ohio, Womankind of Cleveland, American Diabetes Association, UNCF, and Association for Talent Development (ATD).


  • Timothy Nevin
    Chief Operating Officer
    Timothy Nevin
    Chief Operating Officer

    Timothy Nevin is the Chief Operating Officer at COTSWORKS. He oversees a group of diverse, multi-faceted teams that cover purchasing, inventory management, production, manufacturing engineering, optical component R&D, enterprise software development and automation, shipping and receiving, and facilities. As a member of the executive management team, he helps set the strategic direction for the company.

    Tim joined COTSWORKS in 2017. Coming from a consulting background, Tim worked with small to mid-sized manufacturing companies throughout Northeast Ohio to help grow their organizations in areas ranging from process development, equipment, and new product design to marketing and strategic planning. Tim’s responsibilities at COTSWORKS have evolved from an initial focus on operations analysis and continuous improvement to growing, managing, and overseeing the company’s business development, product management, systems and reporting, and strategic projects and partnerships. At the end of 2021, Tim took on the role of VP of Operations, where he focused on restructuring the operations, production, and logistics departments, then transitioned into the role of COO at the beginning of 2023.

    Tim holds a dual Master of Engineering and Management degree from the Weatherhead School of Management and the Case School of Engineering, a Bachelor of Science and Engineering in Biomedical Engineering, and a Six Sigma Green Belt Certification from Case Western Reserve University.