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Topcon Draws on GNSS Expertise to Build Leadership

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May 27, 2008
Inside GNSS, May/June 2008

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Recent leadership appointments at Topcon Positioning Systems (TPS) reflect the company’s efforts to expand its focus from being a vendor of equipment for surveying, civil engineering, and construction to a broad-spectrum provider of positioning solutions drawing heavily on GNSS-based technologies.

David Vaughn, a long-time presence in the GPS field, has become the company’s new senior vice-president, business unit manager of precision agriculture; Mark S. Bittner, former director of worldwide sales-construction services and director, North America sales (mobile solutions) for Trimble Navigation, has become TPS senior vice-president, business unit manager-telematics. James G. Murphy, until recently Magellan Navigation's director of sales-OEM solutions and technologies for the Americas and Asia region, has joined TPS as director of OEM sales and marketing.

Ivan Di Federico has been named senior vice-president of global engineering responsible for product engineering of all new TPS development. For the past three years Di Federico had been general manager of TSD Integrated Controls, a joint venture between Topcon and Sauer-Danfoss, a manufacturer of engineered hydraulic, electric, and electronic systems and components.

The company has also announced the selection of Ray O’Connor, TPS president and CEO, as an executive of Topcon Corporation, TPS’s US$1.064-billion parent company.

Vaughn previously served as president and CEO for NovAtel Corporation and, earlier, as executive vice-president for corporate business development and tracking and communications products for Trimble, as well as vice-president of operations for the company. He has also served as senior vice-president – chief operating officer, and senior vice-president for strategic business alliances for Magellan Corporation.

Bittner is the former senior vice-president of sales-Americas for Proxim Wireless in California. Prior to working at Trimble, he was vice-president of strategic partner sales, for @Road, a mobile resource consulting firm, which was purchased by Trimble in 2006 for $496 million.

Murphy has also served as director of worldwide sales and marketing for Thales Navigation as well as that company’s director of worldwide OEM sales. Previously, Murphy served as business development manager for EDO Reconnaissance and Surveillance Systems, where he developed marketing plans and customer services strategies.

O’Connor, who is also chairman of Topcon Europe Positioning Business and sits on the board of Topcon America Corporation and Topcon Europe BV, is the first person of non-Japanese descent and the youngest person ever to be named as a Topcon Corporation executive officer.

When O’Connor started with the company in 1993, the division that is now Topcon Positioning Systems had only 30 employees. When the California facility first opened, it had 40 employees. It now has 360 employees in Livermore and more than 700 worldwide, including its engineering R&D center in Moscow, Russia.

O’Connor has led the growth of TPS through a pattern of strategic initiatives beginning in 1995 when Topcon acquired Advanced Grade Technology, a California-based company that was the pioneer and proven leader in automated grade control technology.

In 2000, Topcon made another strategic acquisition with the purchase of Javad Positioning Systems, Inc., a provider of high-precision GPS and GPS/GLONASS products.

In 2006, Topcon purchased KEE Technologies Pty Ltd., an Australian-based company with more than 25 years experience in agricultural electronics and applications focusing on the precision agriculture market.

Last year, Topcon began a new Mobile Control Division to address a broader market that is in need of precise positioning solutions for applications, including precise measurement, navigation, tracking, mobile mapping, and asset management. The company currently offers GPS and GLONASS equipment, with Galileo and Beidou receivers under development.

And, most recently, in February of this year, Topcon announced the combination with Sokkia Co., Ltd., a Japanese company founded more than 85 years ago that also offers precision measuring systems for surveying, GIS, and construction applications.

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