Belden is a global manufacturer of networking and connectivity products. You may not have heard of the company, but you probably come in contact with its products on a daily basis. According to Brian Anderson, senior vice president, legal, general counsel, and corporate secretary, that is likely to happen more and more as the company pursues an aggressive growth plan that involves a strategy of specifically targeted mergers and acquisitions.
The most recent example of that plan is its January 2015 acquisition of Tripwire, a leading provider of advanced cybersecurity solutions. “Customers have been familiar with us in the networking space for a long time, so adding security to our business was a logical extension of our product portfolio,” Anderson says.
The company has expanded its reach through acquisitions in the broadcast industry as well. In 2012, Belden acquired Miranda Technologies, a leading worldwide provider of hardware and software solutions for the television broadcast, cable, satellite, and Internet Protocol Television industry. Then, in 2014, it expanded its broadcast infrastructure offerings further when it acquired Grass Valley, enabling Belden to provide an end-to-end solution to its customers.
“It’s all part of a strategic vision to offer a comprehensive line of products and solutions,” Anderson says. “By combining our legacy connectivity products with companies like Miranda and Grass Valley, we cover gaps that exist in any one of the single portfolios. This lets us to offer the best end-to-end, content-creation-to-distribution solution in the industry.”
A Step Ahead of Transitions
In addition to strategic acquisitions, Belden places a high priority on protecting its track record of innovation. This is accomplished by doing more than developing new products for both existing and emerging platforms and environments. The company actively works with organizations that are setting industry standards for evolving technologies.
BOYS & GIRLS CLUBS OF GREATER ST. LOUIS
Belden’s Brian Anderson credits his involvement with the annual golf fundraiser for the Boys & Girls Club of Greater St. Louis (BGCGSL) to a colleague from his private practice days at Lewis Rice. After the Michael Brown shooting and civil unrest that followed, Anderson says the funds raised to support a new club in Ferguson, Missouri, have a greater meaning. “The new Ferguson location is a place where kids can interact with positive community role models,” Anderson says. Flint Flower, BGCGSL’s president, says that the club “will produce positive outcomes in a community that has been subsumed with difficult realities and negative images.”
Anderson knows what it takes for Belden to stay on top of dynamic trends in multiple industries. “Consumers used to be physically restricted in how far hardwire connections would reach and how much data could flow through the cables. We have seen a rapid change in mobility along with the consumption of more and more data,” Anderson says. “In short, people want unlimited volume with no interruptions, no matter where they go. We anticipated this shift and are able to support transmission rates of up to 100 gigabits in high definition, on demand without interruption.”
The next big thing for consumers is Ultra High Definition (UHD) television. Belden is already positioned to service and supply that market with UHD cameras from Grass Valley and other product sets that will support content delivery as broadcast providers increase 4K programming.
Lawyers In the Sweet Spot
Belden’s legal department is involved in all aspects of the business as it provides services to its colleagues. From acquisitions and working with engineers on innovative technology to intellectual property protection and negotiating contracts with customers, the legal department plays an important role in every part of the enterprise.
“In many ways we have the best job in the company because we’re involved in every phase of the corporate life cycle,” Anderson says. “It’s a rewarding experience and very different from private practice. There, you don’t see how your contributions are integrated into the existing business to improve the entire company.”
Anderson points out that this full integration in the business allows him to enjoy a much broader variety of responsibilities than those he handled in private practice. “It’s like being a professional chef,” he explains. “I still use the same oven and the same utensils, but I get to use a wider variety of ingredients to develop my recipes. That lets me expand the range of my cookbook and my skills.”
Another aspect of in-house practice that he particularly enjoys is its diversity. “I get to work with colleagues, personalities, and cultures from all over the world on a daily basis,” Anderson says. “That’s broadened me as a person and as a professional.”
The General Counsel’s Legacy
Belden has a systematic approach to leadership development and succession planning for its 8,500 employees located on six continents. This involves ongoing training, semi-annual reviews by the CEO, and annual reports to the board of directors.
Anderson personally experienced this development process when, after seven years with the company, he became general counsel when Kevin Bloomfield retired after thirty-four years in the position. Bloomfield had mentored Anderson, allowing him to ease seamlessly into the role.
Anderson also credits Bloomfield with creating an environment that allows the legal team to continue playing a vital role in Belden’s ongoing growth. “Kevin established credibility that allows our clients to trust us as facilitators,” he says. “They view us as business partners who happen to have law degrees and who are providing services that support the best interests of the company.”