Craig Huffaker joined Digital Communications Associates (DCA) in October 1977, as the company’s first comptroller. At that time, DCA was five years old, with annual sales of around $1 million. The company’s first products were front-end processors, mainly for DEC computers, but in 1980, they started shipping a microprocessor based statistical multiplexer, competing with Micom, Timeplex & Infotron.
Huffaker describes DCA’s growth throughout the late ‘70s and as they struggled to cover expenses, initially without investment capital. By maintaining a close relationship with their bank (Bank South of Atlanta), DCA was able to survive its early years with bank loans. When the need for capital became unavoidable, as DCA wanted to grow their new statmux product line, they hired Bertil (Bert) Nordin to take on the role of CEO as part of a $3.5 million funding, which closed in January of ’81.
DCA capitalized on the fast growth of the data communications market in ’81 and ’82 and went public in February of ’83. In the summer of ’83 DCA acquired Technical Analysis Corporation (TCA), a company that had just developed a board that enabled a personal computer to emulate the functions of an IBM mainframe computer terminal. Called the IRMA board, the product became a runaway success for DCA and created a significant revenue stream throughout the ‘80s.
Other significant DCA acquisitions were Microstuf and Forte Communications, suppliers of competing IBM terminal emulators, and Cohesive Network, a major competitor in the T1 multiplexing market acquired in September of ’86 for $28 million. In August of 1987, DCA next acquired Fox Research and its 10Net LAN product and incorporated the company as an independent subsidiary.
As the main financial executive in the company, Huffaker was instrumental in making DCA’s many acquisitions throughout the ‘80s. Craig was one of the few interviews I did after 1988. In this case, I was interested in his perspective on the attempt DCA made to acquire NET. After initial discussions with NET, DCA decided that their asking price of $200 million was too high and acquired NET’s competitor Cohesive instead.
Keywords: Digital Communications Associates (DCA), Technical Analysis Corporation, Microstuf, Forte Communications, Cohesive Network