Angstrom Turns 25 | Part 3 | The Interview

July 28th, 2017

“I had been looking to fill this role for about a year when I conducted the interview,” recalls Andrew Bass on the interview he had with a potential new hire back in 2007. “This young man had the right qualifications and showed a keen interest in what we were doing. He just wouldn’t leave, continuing to ask questions into the evening. I recall that once the interview was over it was clear to me that I wanted Dave Pitts to come to Angstrom as I felt he definitely had the potential to take the company in new directions.”

Dave remembers the interview with clarity as well: “It was obvious that Andrew was passionate about this stuff. My curiosity along with his willingness to explain the technology made it a really good interview experience. I was so intrigued by the minutiae of it all, like the vacuum levels, the speeds that the pumps operate at, and the type of research people were doing with the systems. From those early moments, I knew that I could add a lot of value and help this small company continue its progress forward.”

Andrew Bass about the time of his retirement

Of course, neither participant in the interview knew that it included not just the founder of the company, but its future president and co-owner as well. The two, along with Andrew Campbell (who quickly became VP of Business Development) worked together for five years before Andrew Bass retired, selling the company to Campbell and Pitts.

Angstrom Engineering co-owners Dave Pitts (left), and Andrew Campbell (right) with a Nebula Series Cluster system.

“I felt Angstrom was at a tipping point when I retired,” explains Bass, “they have taken it somewhere that I wouldn’t have been able to. They’ve really made up for some of my weaknesses, and continue to make it better all the time. It’s really exciting to see the new systems, and how the overall level of professionalism is being brought to a whole new magnitude.”

Pitts describes Bass and the company he built from the ground up: “Bass has always been willing and happy to help customers, and genuinely partner with them. We have maintained this and pursued it even more.

“Our focus as a business is on treating the customer properly from the first point of contact through the entire product life cycle. We operate by simply saying yes and being willing to do things for our customers, even unexpected things, and treat them the way we would want to be treated. When we do this, our partners can develop truly spectacular things.”

“I must admit,” Pitts continues, “I was a little worried when Andrew Bass retired. He had created a company with a remarkable atmosphere of openness and collaboration. He was a key member of the team. We miss his direct influence, but still benefit from the indirect influence he has here, even after 5 years.”

“You want to bring in people who think differently,” says Bass, describing his hiring philosophy, “it’s vital. They’ll approach things differently and take things in novel directions. A company succeeds by being flexible enough to meet the challenges it will face. It’s encouraging to see Angstrom so successful. Andrew Campbell and Dave are putting their own mark on it, which is exciting.”

Some recent projects from left to right: Ion assisted deposition married to a variable angle stage, multi-sputter tool with 1000°C heated stage, automated mask/sample antechamber, stage with RF bias and an 800°C heater.

Finally, Pitts speaks to the future and what is in store for Angstrom Engineering: “We’ve put a lot of focus on our engineering capabilities, and have invested heavily in bringing on really high caliber people. It’s unique for a company of our size to have such a high concentration of technical experts. It allows us to develop machines and systems that would not be possible anywhere else. I’m excited by the complexity of the projects we’re working on. I’m excited by the pedigree of the customers we’re working with, and how excited they are to be working with us. I can’t wait to see what we can accomplish.”

This is the last part of our series on the history of Angstrom Engineering, as we celebrate 25 years in business. Andrew Bass retired in 2012, and has since focused his time on athletic pursuits, as well as building intricate wood carved art that double as fully functional time pieces!

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