With 1,200 new employee badges and an expansive row of new executive offices, the Santa Rosa facility of Agilent Technologies stands poised to serve as headquarters to the world’s top electronic measurement company.
On Friday, the hilltop campus on Fountaingrove Parkway is slated to unveil signs proclaiming itself the home of Keysight Technologies.
The creation of a new company means splitting up Agilent’s life sciences and electronic measurement divisions, with the hope each business can grow better on its own. Keysight’s new leaders and staff have spent 10 months helping prepare more than 10,000 customers, 3,000 suppliers and 9,500 employees for the new day.
For the next three months, Keysight will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of Agilent. But in November, Keysight is scheduled to become an independent, publicly traded company, a global business based in Santa Rosa.
It all amounts to the latest chapter in the story of Sonoma County’s fifth-largest employer, which began here four decades ago as part of technology giant Hewlett-Packard. Under both HP and Agilent, the electronic measurement facilities brought the county the benefits of a high-tech workforce. But they also offered front-row seats to the upheaval caused when a company sends thousands of manufacturing jobs overseas.
For this next act, Keysight will take center stage as the largest company ever based in the county, one whose annual sales of $2.9 billion nearly equals a quarter of the world’s electronic measurement market.
“We have a global player headquartered now in the county,” said Dick Herman, president of 101 MFG, a Petaluma-based alliance of manufacturing executives. “And that’s pretty significant. Because decisions aren’t made anywhere else now. They’re made here.”
Since last fall, a core team of roughly 1,000 Agilent employees have worked to make sure that by Friday both the new and existing companies will be ready to operate on their own. For Keysight, the 316 days of preparation has been a time for such diverse tasks as creating 15,000 new email addresses and gaining permission to do business in 30 countries.
At the million-square-foot campus in Santa Rosa, construction workers have converted 15,000 square feet of space for executive offices and a “stakeholder center” that will welcome the company’s new board members, as well as high-profile customers, stock analysts and investors.
“We wanted a headquarters that had a look and feel of the world’s leading electronics measurement company,” said Hamish Gray, Keysight’s chief of staff and the manager leading the changeover.
Keysight looking ahead
Keysight will bring to Santa Rosa about 70 new workers as part of its headquarters operations, in addition to the roughly 1,175 already here. Seven of the nine members of the executive management team will be housed locally, including President and CEO Ron Nersesian.
Company workers in Santa Rosa speak of the intense effort it has taken to split up a company and create new legal, finance, human resources and information technology divisions. But Keysight officials already are looking ahead.
“This is an exciting new day, but just the first of many on our journey of excitement and passionate efforts to deliver something extraordinary to all involved,” Nersesian said in a statement.
Keysight already proclaims itself the global sales leader of electronic measurement equipment in three key sectors: aerospace and defense, communications, and computers and semiconductors. As well, the company proudly traces its heritage back 75 years to innovators Bill Hewlettt and Dave Packard. The Santa Rosa campus even displays one of the 1938 HP audio oscillators that Walt Disney Studios used to test theater sounds systems for the 1940 movie “Fantasia.”