Delex branches into civilian market

A packed open house Wednesday, including guests Mayor Patty Cohen and U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, officially marked the opening of Delex Systems, Inc. in Oak Harbor.

The training services company has operated on base at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station since October of 1998, but this is its first foray into the Northwest’s civilian market.

Larry Bezold, Northwest Region director for Delex, said the decision to expand was based on a growing customer base, the need for more room for operations and a desire to expand into the civilian business network.

“We’re a training services company,” Bezold said. “When we started in 1998 with eight people, we began doing revision and maintenance of course-ware for a couple of the (Whidbey) squadrons.”

The company started out with one contract, and has since expanded its operations on the base. As it grew, Delex expanded its work to include analysis, design and development of training services, in addition to the revision and maintenance of those services. Bezold said the majority of the work done by Delex to this point has been for the Navy, including additional contracts with other branches of the government. He said the company’s expansion will allow it to cater to civilian businesses in Oak Harbor as well.

Bezold said an example of the service Delex could provide to the public might be a contract with a manufacturing company that has recently upgraded its equipment and needs to bring employees up to speed. Delex would then work with the company to analyze its needs and develop a training program that would effectively serve the company’s employees.

The Delex training process can apply to any business, not just those in the technical fields, Bezold added. As yet, Delex has not done any large civilian projects in Oak Harbor. It is, however, currently working with Prowler squadrons at NAS Whidbey.

Chris Scott, a three-year employee and subject matter expert, is currently working with EA-6B programs, specifically the ICAP-III version of the Prowler being utilized in the VAQ 137 and VAQ 139 squadrons.

“The Navy comes out with upgrades to the EA-6B and we have been contracted to provide training to the Navy for those systems,” Scott said.

His current project is the MIDS data-link system, formally named LINK 16. The new system allows all EA6Bs to plug into the strike group data-link network and see all the participants in the theatre of battle. An air traffic control-like screen displays a symbology layout of all the aircraft, ships, submarines and troops in the area. So far, Scott said, he been training squadrons for six months, and will likely have another six months of training to complete.

Rep. Larsen said he was impressed with the company’s recent growth, and the way in which it directly supports national security efforts.

“I think it’s important that Delex is in the Northwest because they’re providing support for all the great work that’s taking place at Naval Air Station Whidbey,” Larsen said.

The new Delex office currently employs 36 people, but Bezold said that number could rise to 40 by the end of the month.

In addition to its managerial staff, Delex also employs instructional system designers, subject matter experts, graphic artists and multimedia developers. Bezold said Delex has recently added an EW learning center on base for computer training, as well as hired photographers and videographers. The photographers and videographers have had work contracted out to them by the fleet imaging center.

The Delex parent company is located in Vienna, Va., and employs anywhere from 275 to more than 300 depending on the number of projects it takes on. Aside from Whidbey Island, Delex has offices in more than 10 different sites around the country. Delex also does works with several foreign governments to provide training primarily for weapons systems. The Whidbey Island office is the only one so far in Washington, outside the Navy base.

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