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Investigating What the Heck Probe Makes

John O'Dell covers major Orange County corporations and manufacturing for The Times. He can be reached at (714) 966-5831 and at john.odell@latimes.com

Costa Mesa-based Probe Manufacturing Industries Inc. is one of those places that leaves the casual observer wondering: What do they make in there? The name of the business doesn’t help, and the trucks that roll in and out are unmarked.

The clue is in the boxes and crates that get loaded. They are a smorgasbord, labeled for everything from televisions to toasters.

The 9-year-old business is a contract manufacturer, one of dozens that help keep manufacturing an important part of Orange County’s economy. Instead of turning out products bearing its name, Probe makes things for others.

For years, its specialty has been electronics. Manufacturing and assembling consumer electronic products, Probe has grown from a tiny start-up with five employees and 3,500 square feet of space in 1989 to a profitable business with 140 workers and 39,000 square feet of space today.

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The company’s founders, Kam Maddi and Reza Zarif, didn’t succeed by being dumb.

Over the last few years they’ve watched the county develop into a big player in the biomedical arena. And their company, working with such advisors as the California Manufacturing Technology Center and UC Irvine’s Technology Outreach program, has developed a second specialty, medical manufacturing.

To win certification to make things such as defibrillators, respirators and heart monitoring devices, the company had to institute a tough set of manufacturing standards and processes, says quality control manager Shepard Bentley.

Customers include Orange County companies such as Imagyn Medical Technologies Inc. and Irvine Sensors Inc., Bentley said, adding that he’s been sending out quotes lately to medical companies from Santa Barbara to San Diego.

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