In 1982, an entrepreneur from Litchfield, MN started a small company called Industrial Research and Development (IRD) in a local commercial garage. The company was focused on manufacturing precision glass components for the aerospace industry and precision optics for a variety of regional customers in the electro-optic sensors arena, including the wafer and circuit board inspection capital equipment industry.
In 1997, Keith Anderson (current President of IRD Ceramics) and Dennis Rutledge (current CEO of IRD Glass) bought IRD and developed an aggressive plan for expansion. Their first order of business was to move the company into a brand new 12,000 sq. ft. facility, built from the ground up with this business in mind.
In 1998, with average annual sales of $1.5M, IRD moved into our current home at 810 E Saint Paul Street in Litchfield, MN. Later in the year, we opened a second facility in Alexandria to focus on manufacturing advanced hard ceramic components.
Growth continued, and in 2005 an addition designed to facilitate the growing precision optics segment was built, bringing the total square footage to 22,000 ft². At that same time, IRD Glass also acquired the optics division from APA Enterprises, and brought that business in-house.
We have gained recognition for our cell-based manufacturing operation, our unparalleled manufacturing precision, and our seamless integration into customers’ delivery and purchase cycles. We constantly invest in process improvement tools like Lean Manufacturing, Six Sigma, SS, DOE, and others. We have also invested in high-end metrology and in-process inspection systems that allow us to perform exact optical, surface and dimensional measurements to meet the rigorous demands of the glass industry.