Jacqueline Hochheiser, Corporate Communications
Mini-Circuits and its late founder and CEO, Harvey Kaylie, were both hewn from humble beginnings. Today, we celebrate the tireless hours, the entrepreneurial spirit, and the many people who were influential in establishing the business and the founding values that shaped our organization over the course of its history. Throughout his time as the leader of Mini-Circuits, Kaylie always put people first whether they were his own team members, customers, or partners.
The guiding principles that he held himself, the company, and those around him to would shape the culture for over fifty years even after his passing in 2018. His beliefs of passion, quality, family environment, innovation, and grit that were established from the beginning still ring true and make Mini-Circuits the successful global company it is today.
How it All Began
At 2:30 a.m. the streets of Brooklyn were quiet and empty. Apartment buildings and shops had long since closed. Most residents lay sleeping, awaiting the rise of the sun to mark a new day. Among the thousands of windows that had gone dark, one window remained lit.
Inside that solitary window, Harvey Kaylie worked tirelessly in his kitchen to keep his nascent business afloat. The table, long since cleared from the evening meal, was littered with bits and pieces of iron, brass, and aluminum alloy glinting under incandescent light, stray bits of wire, adhesives, a soldering iron. Heavy instruments hummed nearby, glowing, studded with buttons and knobs and gauges. In these early stages with only the support of his wife and two young daughters, every task demanded his full attention.
Earlier that same day, Kaylie had received a call from a customer requesting test data for a Mini-Circuits product they were considering for a new system design. They needed burn-in testing to move forward. Winning the design slot would mean significant order volume and a much-needed revenue stream to buoy his bottom line. The customer, unaware that Mini-Circuits was anything but a full-fledged industrial giant, had no idea what a challenge this would pose for a small-time operator with such limited resources, but Kaylie wasn’t about to let that stop him.
Determined to give the customer what they wanted, Kaylie had to improvise a way to perform high temperature operating life (HTOL) testing, also known as burn-in, a standard requirement to ensure the reliability of electronic components at high temperature for long periods of time. Without the specialized equipment available in an RF lab for environmental testing – most would simply admit it was beyond their means. Taking on such a complicated task without a lab was impossible by any conventional measure. But nothing in Kaylie’s character was conventional, and nothing was ever impossible.
He had some of the basic instrumentation to perform the measurements the customer needed, but he didn’t have a big, expensive laboratory-grade heat chamber to bake a sample batch of units. What he had was a consumer-grade, household oven. It could reach and maintain the required temperature to test the products’ performance stability over many hours, and it was large enough to accommodate the sample batch. He was improvising, but it could work.
When the testing was complete and the report submitted, the customer purchased the product, pleased with the performance and rigor of the test report. It was this kind of resourcefulness, tenacity and unorthodox approach to problems that would soon take Mini-Circuits from kitchen upstart to industry giant.
Mini-Circuits has inevitably taken shape around the unique character of its founder. Harvey Kaylie’s core values would spread among the many people he brought into the company and come to define the culture that has set Mini-Circuits apart from other organizations. As we celebrate 54 remarkable years of history, those values are alive and thriving, propelling the company to new challenges and new success for our team members, our customers and the entire Mini-Circuits family worldwide.