Watkins-Johnson Co., a Bay Area defense electronics firm that is seeking to diversify, said Monday that it had acquired Santa Ana-based R.L. Stollar & Associates, an environmental consulting firm specializing in ground-water contamination problems.
R.L. Stollar, founded in 1983 by ground-water scientist Robert L. Stollar, rode the recent wave of concern about the environment to attain annual sales of about $15 million before its acquisition.
The sale price was not disclosed, but sources estimated that it was about $8 million to $9 million.
Watkins-Johnson will retain R.L. Stollar's management and expects to make few changes in the Santa Ana company's operations, said Stephen B. Witmer, a Watkins-Johnson spokesman. R.L. Stollar employs about 50 people, divided evenly between offices in Santa Ana and Denver.
Witmer said that although Watkins-Johnson has no experience in environmental services, it does have a track record as a government contractor, and much of R.L. Stollar's work has involved cleaning up waste sites at military installations and other government locations.
"This is a whole new direction for us, but we thought we would have a leg up because of our experience with the government," Witmer said. Watkins-Johnson, which has revenues of about $300 million annually, is primarily a defense electronics and test-equipment manufacturer.
Environmental services were chosen as a new business area because of their growth potential, Witmer added, and the company is seeking an East Coast acquisition to further bolster its entry into the field. Watkins-Johnson and Stollar have been working together for five years in the cleanup of a Watkins-Johnson waste site, Witmer said.
A Stollar spokeswoman said about 40% of the firm's work comes from the government. The company specializes in cleaning up spills and dumps that have contaminated underground water tables, which provide fresh water for drinking and irrigation in many areas.