A tribute to our visionary founder and the ingenuity that made Mini-Circuits’ success:
At 2:30 a.m. the streets of Brooklyn were quiet and empty. Apartment buildings and shops had long since been shuttered for the night. Among the hundreds of windows that had gone dark, people behind them sleeping until morning, one window remained lit.
Inside that solitary window sat Harvey Kaylie in his kitchen, working endless hours to keep his fledgling business afloat. In these early days of the venture, with only the support of his wife and two young daughters, there were no margins for error, no soft deadlines, no safety nets. Every task required the family’s full attention, and survival depended on the energy he alone was able to summon.
Earlier that day, Kaylie had received a call from a customer requesting data for burn-in testing on a Mini-Circuits product they were evaluating for their project. Unaware that Mini-Circuits was based out of an apartment and not an industrial laboratory, the customer had no idea what a challenge this would pose, but Kaylie understood that challenge meant opportunity.
Determined to meet the customer’s requirement and win the business, Kaylie had to improvise. Burn-in testing involves subjecting electrical devices to extreme heat for a period of time and monitoring electrical performance for variations. Kaylie had worked for years as a senior engineer at Airborne Instrument Labs (AIL) and understood how the test worked, but performing it without the temperature chambers and other specialized equipment available in a fully equipped RF lab would take some uncommon creativity.
For lack of a temperature chamber, Kaylie resorted to repurposing the oven in his kitchen to test the products’ stability over many hours at high temperatures. He worked into the early morning and the process took many hours more, but Kaylie would not rest until he was satisfied with the performance of his products and the quality of the data. The customer was ultimately pleased with the results and booked the order.
Senior members of the organization today have heard or retold this story often, and it’s become a kind of parable about the single-minded work ethic, resourcefulness and eccentricity of the man who founded Mini-Circuits. But it’s only one early example of a long-term pattern that would come to define the values of the company and lead to greater growth and expansion in years to follow.
This year on Harvey Kaylie’s birthday, four years after his passing, Mini-Circuits remembers the sacrifices he made early on to make his dreams a reality. Kaylie built Mini-Circuits on a foundation of core values and principles that have carried on through the generations that followed and remained integral to our culture today. The Mini-Circuits family will always be grateful for the hard work, grit, passion, and sense of community that will live on in our people and propel us to new heights.