Matt sits down with Sam Fanizzi to discuss the ever changing world of microwave filters. Tune in to learn about what they are, how they work, and where they fit into our technology-centric world.

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Matt: Hello everybody. Welcome back to the first episode of the Growth Modes Conversation podcast, here in 2023 here in our new studio that we’ve had for a while, but we haven’t actually, used it for a podcast, believe it or not. But, , here we are and we’ve got a great guest, somebody, , that I’ve known now for a few years and worked a lot with.

Incredibly interesting guy who works for a very interesting company that I feel like not a lot of people in the area necessarily know. , which is why we’re doing that. But as we jump in, I do this thing on this podcast where I ask the guests to introduce themselves. Tell us who you are and what you do, please.

Sam: Good day, everybody. , I am Sam Fanizzi. I’m currently the Vice President of Sales and marketing at Microwave Filter, which does not support m. appliances. ,

Matt: That’s the key message I’d like to get across. When people see this company as they drive by any Syracuse. Yeah. Microwave filter company.

And you immediately think of your microwave oven. But that’s not the type of microwaves we’re talking about, right? No. What is it, Sam?

Sam: The reality is we get a lot of call for microwave ovens, but our product supports. The RF microwave world, meaning for example, this podcast that may get sent out into the world if you’ve got radio interference we make a filter, which could look like this, and that filter would be placed on a satellite dish, and it could do anything from blocking interference, blocking a signal so that our transmission can come through, or it could allow a signal.

To pass through. There’s a lot of variations to that as well but really we support the RF, microwave industry private sector, government and military.

Matt: So when you say filter in microwave filter, you’re talking about filtering out radio signals and things like that.

Sam: Exactly.

Matt: Is that accurate?

Sam: Exactly. Yes, that’s correct.

Matt: And what’s really neat is Sam picked up one piece. This is an. Filter right that you make right here in town, in East Syracuse. And this interestingly shaped hunk of metal. It accomplishes that task. It filters out radio signals somehow.

Sam: So keep in mind there’s thousands of varieties for all different applications. This particular filter we use for mobile terminals. So this would be a satellite dish or satellite terminal that could go on top of your car, your camper. Could go on a boat it could be placed on top of a mountain.

So the word mobile means it’s pretty much anywhere. Yeah. And the reality is that filter is one component of a system. That allows the user to gain internet access wherever they are. I see. This particular one is developed for a large OEM here in the United States an original equipment manufacturer that we partner with, and it is supporting mobile applications globally at this point.

Wow. It’s pretty cool to think that you could be in the middle of the Adirondacks or maybe out in the boat in the ocean and you want to. Watch this podcast. So you’re gonna need internet access. , that filter would help the system that you use accept that broadcast. That’s awesome.

Matt: That’s really interesting. And so basically what you’re saying is any of this type of stuff needs this type of filter, right? It needs to block out. The interference. I feel if folks maybe are really dating ourselves, but when you used to really pick up radio and TV channels over the air you’d be scanning through and you can get that kind of bleed one into the other this type of thing, and correct me if I’m explaining this right.

This would filter that out, right? So you wouldn’t have that bleed. It keeps the signals clear and on the frequency that you expect them. That Is that pretty much that,

Sam: that’s a good explanation. The one that I use. Growing up in the sixties and seventies, we listened to a lot of radio.

At that time, AM was very popular, but late at night, you would pick up radio signals. You’d hear Cincinnati from St. Louis in Cleveland and be. How am I listening to a radio station that far away and those signals got crossed as the evening went down in the traffic. Sure. The RF traffic, if you will, decreased these filters and there’s, once again, there’s many options.

Keep those signals projected keep interference out. The reality, a lot of what we do are, we call them mitigation filters. , which means they’re blocking out any interference to allow your application to be heard and seen. Very important in ems, emergency services.

, in that application, government and military have obvious needs for that. , but there’s a whole lot of private sector. There’s, for example, there, there’s many religious organizations now that broadcast You could go on TV on a Sunday and see broadcast from all over and.

Some of those have thousands and thousands of recipients. So each of those satellite dishes that are out there could use a filter like that or maybe something like this to ensure that signal is sent out properly and more importantly, received properly. Wow. I think you remember back when cable TV first started, I think that was in the early seventies, and we had the brown boxes with the long cords.

Sure. You had the little button that you went up top 15 lower. . That technology has obviously changed and as technology changes, the need for more products comes into the market. These are just a couple of thousands of different options. But keep in mind that the filter is one piece, of a system.

Yeah. There’s much more involved in it, but it’s pretty critical piece. So yeah we’re here in East syc. We’ve got a 40,000 foot facility actually right around the corner. We do our own manufacturing. . We have a paint shop, we have engineers, we have testing we do everything in-house. And we do have some vendor partners here within the US that that work with us on some of our larger projects.

But everything’s manufactured in the United States and uh, . . I know we have a nice Made in America video out there if anybody’s interested in looking at it. That just highlights the fact that we’re American born, we’re American grown, and we’re supporting everybody here.

Matt: And just so folks know, is this a startup company or is this been around for a few years?

Sam: Microwave filter’s been around since 1967. Wow. So they’ve gone through many iterations of where maybe the cable industry was very strong. . And as that’s gone more digital and started to decrease, now the RF industry has jumped into play.

Matt: Your company made cable boxes at one point, right?

Sam: Cable boxes. We supported back when we needed those building Santa Lake dishes. So we’ve gone through many iterations of products that we’ve manufactured and really is dependent on what the market’s calling for. Sure. We’re very responsive.

It’s not like you can walk into Matt’s place and say, Hey, do you have interference? We have a filter. The reality is customers come to us when they have a problem. If someone put up a satellite dish within a couple hundred feet of your building, you might now start to experience interference, in which case we could supply a filter that would block that out.

And we’re very responsive in that way.

Matt: That’s great. So one thing I wanna mention, right along the lines of what you’re talking about is we hear a lot of buzz around town, about JMA Wireless and all these companies that are really booming and growing thanks to 5g. Microwave filters. Been real busy in the 5G arena for the last few years as well, right?

Sam: Yes. We have our part and you mentioned JMA and a few others. Those companies all have different parts of these systems. Some might help produce products that will help that signal be sent out. Our position is that we make a filter and it just happens to be this particular model right here.

this filter gets applied to a satellite dish. And really what it does is it blocks the 5G signal. So we call it a mitigation filter. So you’re of the anti 5G . I guess you could look at it that way. The 5G signals very strong, and what happens is the strength of that will sometimes overpower other signals.

So what we do is we push it to the side and keep it out of. once again, you’re gonna see a lot of use in that, not only in the private sector, tv, radio stations and such government and military applications. Ems. A couple years back there was discussion that airport altimeter might be interfered with because of the 5G signal.

They were actually debating whether they should launch the signal or hold off. Sure. I remember that. The filter applications were able to prove that we could launch 5G safely and not have it fear with the with the airlines. That’s great. Most of our work to this point has. With US based companies.

However over the recent, let’s say 12 to 18 months, we’ve expanded. We’re now working on applications and supporting places like Brazil, Australia, India, Africa as the 5G single launches globally. Those folks will find that they need some support for that, and they develop a frequency range that they’re going to use, and we take those specifications that they give us, and our engineers go to work and they develop the products that are needed.

They go out for testing. Once they’re approved, then we start production.

Matt: I think that’s a real interesting tidbit right there that I didn’t realize. We talk about 5g, that’s not necessarily the same frequency all over the globe. Different places can set different kind of parameters on what we all know as 5g.

So it’s not just a matter of you can now sell this unit in other countries, you actually have to come up with a different model. It’s tweaked a little different for these different. Places in the world. Is that accurate?

Sam: Not only for 5g, for pretty much everything that’s out there. Wow. There’s different frequency ranges.

This particular filter here I don’t know if you can see it, it says 38, 20 to 4,200, which we call a red version. , it’s it’s the phase one version and everybody that can move within that frequency range is getting filters to block the signal. Then the blue part is 4,000 to 4,200, which will become the new frequency range for the United States in North.

the filter also does that. So we make two filters, same size. They use the red in the beginning application. Then when they go to phase two and the signal changes, they go to the blue application. However for example, our filter for India is completely different. Our filter for Brazil is completely different.

It really does depend on what frequency range each country adapts to. And then there’s a lot of parameters within those ranges that are more the technical side where sure, our engineers work with the end. To determine, and then we develop and manufacture.

Matt: That’s great. I love hearing about that company and we’re gonna make sure in all the notes and everywhere we’ve got the links to the company website where folks can learn more about what you do and also reach out for any I think you probably have some job openings from time to time.

Sure. And it’s a great resource if you’re a, a local person that wants to get into manufacturing and I think they probably have a wide variety of positions at different. It’s a great local company to check out. That obviously has been here a long time. So it’s one that you can be confident in.

But let’s talk about you. You didn’t spend your whole career at mfc. Let’s talk about you for just a little bit. . You’ve always been in, in the sales world though, right? Can you give folks a little bit a, a background on Sam?

Sam: If we went back to if we went back to the late seventies selling Electrolux, we Vacuum cleaners door to door

Oh, wow. We would be here for a while. But yes, I’ve been in sales since the late seventies. Really I did a bunch of odd sales jobs and then in 83 I started, which was my career with US Postal Service. I was on the retail side there, not a. carrier and around the late nineties, I was asked to move into their sales department, which most people didn’t even know they had.

But the reality is pretty much every business and every person uses the postal service, whether they use it to ship a package or to mail a letter. Sure. So I was part of that sales team for the last 20 years or so that I was there and had a Northeast area sales team that covered all of upstate New York.

Oh, wow. , a couple hundred thousand customers. Keep in mind everybody used them. Sure. So there was a lot of work involved there. A lot of travel. I retired from the postal service after 35 years with them in 2017. Wow. Spent a couple weeks at home and then saw an ad for microwave filter that they were looking for someone in the relationship management arena and was fortunate enough to be hired.

And I’ve been with the company ever since.

Matt: That’s great. That’s great. Now you also. You’ve been also an entre entrepreneur as well, right? You’ve had some retail ventures and things like that?

Sam: Yep. Was working in the sports card world in the late nineties, actually in the late eighties.

And eventually got a partner, a friend that was doing card shows at high schools and malls. Okay. And we opened a small retail. that turned into a larger retail store and eventually became five retail stores, four of which were in New York State. One was in North Carolina. Oh, wow. We specialized in a product called Kenner starting lineups.

They were small seven inch plastic figurines. Okay. Very strong market. A lot of enthusiasm. We did national trade shows throughout we shipped probably 50 to a hundred boxes per day. Wow. And at that time the web use and internet sales weren’t as strong as they are now. So we advertised Backpage and Inserts and most of the trade journals.

Wow. Spent thousands of dollars to do that every month. But the phone rang constantly. We ended up here in Syracuse in what is now Destiny, but was at the time Carousel Mall. And we were there for 14 years in that retail environment. Wow. So it was pretty exciting. We did a lot of traveling, met a lot of cool people, had a lot of fun with it.

Matt: And that was kinda your side job.

Sam: But we did that I did that alongside working, a full-time career with the postal service. That’s incredible. But I found that working that much obviously helped our family situation and kept me out of trouble. Plus the interaction with people is, Where I think I excel, but it’s really the fun part of what we do.

Sure. To to talk to, whether it be with filter applications or post postal service or even retail, to talk to somebody about what they like and what they wanna do and why they wanna do it, really helps explain whether or not I have or our company has products and services that can support them.

Yeah. In getting to that point with the. Is not as easy as it used to be because knocking on doors was acceptable many years ago. Nowadays we’re using email and, phone and how many messages do you get that are not effective. My personal enjoyment comes from that face-to-face interaction with a client and asking those tough questions.

What do you do? How do you do it? And why do you do it? Yeah. If we can get those three answers especially with the company that I’m with right now, we can come up with a solution for everybody and those are the critical elements. So that’s the real fun part of it all. Yeah. Is that customer interaction?

Yeah. I love, I think people want that so much.

Matt: We’ve made that a cornerstone of our business as well as that personalized and in-person service. Especially like in the IT world, so many people wanna do everything a hundred percent remotely and, we find it’s best put a person in your building on a regular basis and see you and help you one-on-one.

And I think folks just love that. So it’s great to hear that you find that in all kinds of things.

Sam: I would think in your world, similar to ours, you have to be very reactionary to customer need. And one of the things that I found is that when someone calls, We answer the phone.

Yeah. So we do have an automated phone system, like I’m pretty sure you do. Sure. But the reality is if it’s during business hours and we’re there, we’re gonna answer the phone and customer interaction. And customer service is critical. And with more people going remote due to whatever. Yeah.

Whether it be covid related or whatever it may be. The need for your services, I can see growing incredibly.

Matt: Absolutely. Absolutely. So Sam, if you were to offer advice to a young person or maybe somebody who was in a career and thinks there’s all these sales opportunities, maybe I want to get into sales, what would be a couple of key pieces of advice you would tell anybody?

Sam: Interesting question. Sales is complex and it’s easy at the same time. The reality is, if you’re comfortable with customer interaction, sales can be a great game, and if it’s fun, it becomes a little bit easier there’s a pretty big difference in the sales world. Prospecting, as going out and looking for opportunity is one piece of it.

, closing of the sale is a completely different one. So if you’re one that can ask questions and gather information and then pass that to somebody, then your game is probably gonna be on the front end of sales. If you’re, what will classify as a. I’m gonna go in there, I’m gonna lock the deal down.

Sure, we’re gonna make a big deal. We’re gonna have a good time with it. Then sales is the other side that you would go into, but there’s so many opportunities now. What I would advise would be to look for products and services and opportunities that have future growth. Once again our company been around for going on 60 years.

There’s almost always gonna be a need for this there’s great opportunity there. There’s a long future and with technology and IT support, I can see those growing. Sure. The retail industry has had some changes. Brick and mortar is starting to dwindle a bit and actually I was reading up that the number one brick and mortar.

Company right now. I think it was Dollar General. Yeah, I believe it opening so many locations. Yeah. They were the fastest growing brick and mortar. It really just depends on the talent and the skill level of the person and really more so what they’re comfortable with. Sure. You can’t put someone that has great product knowledge and understanding into a sales role because they’re not gonna be able to transition it.

That’s why for our company, we have engineers, we have technical advisors, we have salespeople at each one of them do an independent role. Yeah. You need to figure out what you’re good. What motivates you, and then you need to move forward in that arena. But anything that’s computer driven technology that’s the arena to be looking in.

Great opportunity. You’re talking career for life. Yeah.

Matt: That’s a big thing, right? No I know, especially in our business, how much how much value a good salesperson would bring. And that’s the thing is if you are good, you are in such high demand that I feel like you can write your own paycheck for as long as you wanna do it, absolutely. Absolutely. So good for them. Sam, anything else before we close out? That you should mention or tell folks to check out about yourself or microwave filter, or anything we’ve talked about today?

Sam: Once again, MFC is a a company that supports companies in need.

It’s not like we could just knock on doors and be selling our product. Yeah. However our focus in our future is gonna be on the oem manufacturing side, and we partner with some of the largest federal contractors in the world. Companies like General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin and Leidos, and we can name them all.

Sure, but it doesn’t matter. That’s where our focus is gonna be. If, and so by OEM you mean you’re gonna make a piece that’s gonna go into their bigger piece? It could be part of the system product. know, We’re working on an application right now where the customer outright told us the other day, the filter’s gonna be the most expensive and.

An important part of the project. Wow. If we’ve got a few thousand that we need to deliver per year we need to do some heavy workload there. But that’s why we have design, engineering consultation. Whatever the project is, you’re free to call us. Our consultation services are free.

There’s no cost to you. But we will say no big jobs if they’re not mutually beneficial. Sure. And That’s the one thing about work is that the project needs to be mutually beneficial because a one-sided deal doesn’t work for anybody, right? But we’re available for consultation. You can look us up on the

My information is up there if you need to reach me in sales at all, or someone can contact you. As far as hiring, we’re always looking for the best and the brightest talent. We appreciate anybody that has interest in us, and you’re free to give us a call at any time. Our appreciation to you allowing us a few minutes to come in and talk to you.

Sure. And it’s been pretty interesting and. And hopefully this works out well for us.

Matt: Yeah, . I think it will. And on that note, I wanna thank everybody for listening, watching whatever you’re doing here to the Growth Mode Conversations podcast. It is our goal to have a lot more of these episodes out on a more regular basis.

So stay tuned to that. You can find it on all of our social media platforms, Twitch, Twitter LinkedIn, Facebook, all of ’em. Just look for growth mode tech and you will find us and. We’ll see you next time.