The Roanoker - January/February 2017 - 43
Wilkin talks about OCC as
a "small company with a
big footprint." He stresses
OCC "is in the top four fiber
optics companies in North
America" and "some say
that should be the top two."
good sense to hire Neil Wilkin as its knight in shining armor. Wilkin produced spectacularly and rapidly
and today OCC has become one of the most respected
manufacturing companies in the region, easily moving
from production of fiber optic cables to its international position engineering and making a comprehensive line of high-end cable and connection products
that involve more than just fiber optics.
Kopstein, one of 25 brilliant engineers let go by
ITT in Roanoke in the early 1980s when it closed
its fiber optics business (a great story of initiative
for these engineers), founded the company in 1983
and produced sturdy, light, tough fiber optic cable
that was transmitting huge amounts of data-for that
time-especially for the military. That cable helped in
the evolution of the industry. After Kopstein's misadTHEROANOKER.COM
ventures, OCC had to hustle to re-take its industry
position and hustle Wilkin and his teammates did.
By 2009, they added plants in Asheville, North
Carolina and Plano, Texas, and their employment
grew from 200 to 350 (210 of those in Roanoke).
Wilkin talks about OCC as a "small company with
a big footprint." He stresses OCC "is in the top four
fiber optics companies in North America" and "some
say that should be the top two."
OCC, which is publicly traded via NASDAQ,
doesn't "generally sell to the [big data] carriers," says
Wilkin, concentrating on mining, oil and gas industries, broadcast, harsh environment and "specialty
markets" in more than 70 countries. Innovation "is
part of a continuum," says Wilkin, made necessary
by an ever-changing industry.
OCC, says Wilkin, is in the advantageous position
of not "seeing a lot of foreign competition" and in
concentrating much of its marketing here.
This is also a company that takes its corporate responsibility personally and is deeply involved in everything from scouting to the arts to the Roanoke/
Blacksburg Technology Council.
Wilkin likes to note that you can find OCC cable
in such diverse places as NASCAR infields, Tech football games, military deployments and missile programs and a wide range of other uses. In general, if
you see a cable that looks like an OCC product, it
probably is one. I
OCC's Neil Wilkin
"In general, if you see
a cable that looks like
an OCC product, it
probably is one.
JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017 | 43