Around 1,000 former TIers, volunteers and exhibitors packed Southfork Ranch Nov. 15 for the 2007 retiree Big Event, about 125 more people than attended last year. The TI Alumni Association offered a one-year free membership or renewal to all former TIers or spouses who came and filled out a membership form. A quick count showed about 100 new members joined TIAA, and nearly 100 renewed their membership.
The “Back to the Future” celebration for former TIers was a good opportunity to visit with TI friends, see historical and other exhibits, enjoy a buffet luncheon, hear from TI Senior Vice President Terri West and TIAA President Lewis McMahan, and much more.
“The Big Event was a roaring success this year,” said Ed Hassler, event chairman and TIAA Activities vice president. Opening the time capsule recovered from the TI-Austin site last winter was a major attraction. This was especially true for active TIers and retirees who had worked there. Katie Barrett, Stu Barrett, Roy Corley, Harvey Cragon, Ed Hassler, Bob Laddasaw, Mike Mahoney and Al Riccomi gathered to see what historical treasures the capsule preserved.
Lewis McMahan said the capsule was buried next to the flagpole at the Austin Research Blvd. site on Oct. 18, 1984 – the Fifteenth anniversary of the site’s founding. The metal capsule – approximately 2-1/2 ft in diameter and eight feet long – was buried vertically under about three feet of dirt. “They purged the thing with nitrogen, so it’s not surprising the contents are still in such good shape today,” Lewis said.
The first items removed from the capsule included the burial ceremony printed program, an invitation poster, a book of signatures of those attending, and a banner commemorating the event. After the opening, the banner was draped over the capsule. Lewis noted that the capsule contained a Silent 700 printer (Model 743). Its thermal paper had held up for 23 years. Also in the capsule were a TI Professional Computer and five boxes of software, a 911 Video Terminal, a two volume history of the Austin plant, documents and parts from the Advanced Scientific Computer (ASC), and a history of the ASC written by Al Riccomi. The Austin facility was established in 1969. The Government Products Division (GPD) was the first occupant, followed by the Industrial Products Division (IPD) computer business, the printed wiring board shop, the ASC and Geophysical Service Inc. (GSI). TI records show the 1994 sale of 207 acres of undeveloped property and the main site sale in 1996.
Retirees browsed with delight through an exhibit of historic GSI and TI artifacts dating back to the 1930s. They took pleasure in seeing and reminiscing about products they helped created.
Team members put together the TI history exhibit, which included items donated or loaned by retirees and some on loan from the TI Archives.
A royalty check from History Book Kim Quirk, TI liaison to TIAA, for $5,742.33 was presented to to representatives of The Senior Source from royalty payments from the TI history book "Engineering the World: Stories From the First 75 Years of Texas Instruments". When TI received the royalty payments, the company decided to donate the funds to TIAA for contribution to The Senior Source. This was in appreciation for the TIAA people who worked on the book, published in 2005 in connection with the company’s 75th anniversary.
Ed Hassler said 215 attendees got flu shots at the Big Event, and 25 received pneumonia immunization – recommended once every five years. Health Screens Community Services saw 52 people for screening tests in two days – first at Southfork Ranch and the next day at the Texins Activity Center. Participants had an average of 6.8 tests each. Some physical conditions were noted that might warrant monitoring.
Terri West, TI senior vice president for communications and investor relations, spoke on behalf of TI Chairman Tom Engibous, who was called away on short notice. She said TI is focusing on profitable growth and sustainability. The company has filled out its signal chain capabilities and built the broadest chip portfolio in the market. Today, TI is the leading producer in both analog and digital signal processing (DSP) semiconductors. TI increased gross margins in the last two quarters, and in the third quarter, the company set a record for operating margin – 27.6 percent of revenue. The return on investment capital has trended up from 11.4 percent in 2004 to 26.6 percent for the third quarter of 2007. This financial strength has enabled TI to increase its dividend by almost five times in the last three years. Terri said TI would push the envelope in analog innovation, both in terms of new products and new applications. “We believe analog is going to become the financial engine of Texas Instruments,” Terri said. “Every electronics manufacturer in the world is a potential customer. And for every digital signal processor in an electronic system, there are approximately 10 analog components. That’s an enormous market, and as the world’s leading analog supplier, TI is in the best position to capture it. Even though we’re the world leader, our market share is still low – only about 13 percent. So there’s a huge upside potential.”
Lewis McMahan said the TI Alumni Association serves as a vehicle to provide communications between former TIers as well as within TI. TIAA membership continues to grow and is now 3,054. In addition to the annual former TIer luncheon sponsored by TI and TIAA, the TI Alumni annually organize and conduct a charity golf tournament that consistently raises more than $20,000 for The Senior Source. TIAA also has an annual business meeting in May at a place of interest in the Dallas area. Members receive the quarterly TI Alumni News and have access (through the website) to a directory of former TIers who are members.
TIAA has a travel group with discount tickets for TIAA members. Also, TIAA organizes educational seminars covering a wide array of subjects. TIAA volunteers contribute to the community via service projects. “This is a great way to give back to the community and have fun with old friends and coworkers,” Lewis said.