In the early '80s, a government employee named Rod Tuttle was working for the U.S. Navy in Pt. Loma in the infancy of what is now known as the Naval Tactical Data System. NTDS is a computer-to-computer information system that, essentially, informs a Navy commander what's going on around his ship and enables him to make strategic and tactical evaluations and decisions, rapidly and accurately.
Tuttle, who graduated from San Diego State with a degree in electrical engineering, perceived an opportunity to become a government contractor, manufacturing and selling directly to the Navy the various converters, adapters, cables and other equipment needed to interconnect with high-speed, general-purpose computers and its stored programs. He briefly started doing so for another company, but in 1982, Tuttle founded and become chief technology officer of GET Engineering Corporation, named for his wife and company co-founder/president, Guille E. Tuttle.
Three decades later, GET Engineering is thriving. The company that began in Tuttle's garage has operated since 1989 from an 11,000-square-foot headquarters building in El Cajon and boasts clients and indirect sales offices, worldwide. Among its modest but highly experienced and closely knit 24-person staff of designers, engineers and specialists are original employees Robert Felix, a mechanical engineer and Cheri Erne, the production manager.
"We are basically kind of an oddity as a Woman-Owned Small Business as we are a full design, manufacturing and engineering facility," said Frank DeBaca, GET's director of product development, who was lured out of retirement by Tuttle 12 years ago after DeBaca's 32-year-career with defense contractor Lockheed Martin. "We can provide our customers everything from ideas to actual full production."
GET manufactures and sells its products "either directly to the Navy, as the end customer, or to somebody else who's building something for the Navy," said Dave Grundies, GET's vice president, who had a distinguished, 26-year career in the Navy. "We also provide to NATO countries because, as the Navy retires ships and turns them over to our (NATO allies), we also provide them with support. What was good for the Navy a long time ago is currently great for (our NATO allies)."
As the Navy's fleet ages, so does the fleet's computer systems. Sophisticated hardware manufactured by GET Engineering helps the Navy to keep its so-called legacy systems operational while also minimizing cost, weight and space.
"What we replaced (bulky, outdated input/output control racks and thick and heavy 50-foot cables) and what we replaced it with (thin, lightweight CAT-6 Ethernet cables and GET Ethernet-to NTDS converters) represents a quantum leap forward," said DeBaca of a recent GET project for the Navy. "It's not a ten percent increase, it's a major increase (in terms) of reducing the size, weight, power...just about everything."
DeBaca estimated that the vast majority of U.S. Navy ships now in service, as well as many former U.S. Navy vessels now being used by U.S. allies in Europe, Japan and Australia, have GET-manufactured components aboard.
Impressively, GET Engineering achieved, and has maintained for the past five years, the prestigious and demanding ISO9001 quality standard, to which many companies aspire.
"It's a standard that started in Europe," said Erne, who keeps track of all the company's international trade agreements. "As it took off over there, more and more companies like Lockheed and Raytheon didn't want to do business with you unless you were ISO9001-certified."
Much has changed in the past thirty years, especially from a technological standpoint. But one thing that has not changed is GET Engineering's unwavering commitment to quality, a tradition started by the company's co-founder and first chief technology officer, Rod Tuttle.
"We still live by his precepts, said Grundies of Tuttle, now serving with Guille on GET's board of directors. "We don't just test one thing out of a lot, we test every one."
As a result, GET Engineering has withstood the test of time.
9350 Bond Avenue | El Cajon, Ca 92021 | Phone: 619.443.8295 / 877.683.7438 | fax: 619.443.8613 | www.GETNTDS.COM
Tony Lovitt is a freelance writer based in La Jolla. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.