Julie DeFrance assembles a remote particle counter at Lighthouse Worldwide Solutions Thursday. The company, which has a manufacturing plant in Medford, has formed a new partnership in the United Kingdom. - Jamie Lusch

Lighthouse teams with U.K. firm

Analytical instruments maker Lighthouse Worldwide Solutions, which opened a manufacturing plant in Medford five years ago, has expanded its global presence with a new partnership in the United Kingdom.

The Fremont, Calif.-based enterprise makes air, gas and liquid particle counters and contamination and facility monitoring systems on Disk Drive in Medford, where it employs a fourth of its 200-person work force.

The 26-year-old company, with estimated revenue of more than $20 million, has offices throughout the Far East and Europe as well as agents who distribute and service instruments elsewhere.

Lighthouse recently signed on DOP Solutions LTD of Letchworth Garden City, Hertfordshire, to handle instrumentation, software and service offerings in the United Kingdom. The nearest company-owned office is in Amsterdam.

"It's more cost-effective for us going with an agent that already has contacts and other product lines," said Demi DeSoto, LWS marketing and communications director. "DOP Solutions is both a systems integrator and installer dealing in local currency and can handle demonstrations, test equipment and software. They also have an inventory ready for quick shipment. If we were to go in ourselves, it would require setting up a whole new office as well as human resources and staffing."

Lighthouse Worldwide Solutions initially expanded into Asia, where the majority of electronics and wafer manufacturing takes place. Among its clients are Boeing and Seagate Technology.

LWS produces hand-held, portable and remote instruments for each of the three categories of measuring devices it makes here: air, gas and liquid.

The company serves semi-conductor, pharmaceutical, indoor air quality, automotive and defense industries.

"Many of them are cyclical," DeSoto said. "The semiconductor industry in particular is like a roller-coaster. You'll have a peak for a few years and then a downturn with excess inventory and a slowdown in production. If that was your sole business, you would have to ride the ups and downs. Pharmaceutical has been on a steady increase for years. It's regulated, so it's always on a slow slope, but with continuous growth."

He said Lighthouse's share of the $100 million market in airborne particle counting is growing. The liquid particle sector offers even more opportunity to grow.

The company also continues to be one of FedEx's chief customers in Oregon outside the Portland area.

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 776-4463 or e-mail

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