Most people don’t realize that SEAKR is an acronym for its owners – The Andersons, also the “A” in SEAKR. The man behind SEAKR is unequivocally Ray Anderson – Founder and CEO.
Before he founded SEAKR Engineering, before he joined the Air Force, Ray was a man from humble beginnings. Born in 1929, Ray and his siblings were raised poor. Their parents had a 10th grade education. Ray had to work alongside his father in the local lumber mill to make ends meet. He enrolled in a community college because it was the only educational option he could afford. “I had some of the best education I’ve ever had at the community college,” Ray shared. From here, his love of learning sprouted. Shortly thereafter, Ray joined the Air Force.
The Air Force bounced him around a bit, doing time in Michigan and Texas before finally settling in at the Los Angeles Air Force Station, which handles space-related projects for the Air Force. Ray started his career by working on the Minuteman Ballistic Missile System. Ray was also on the operations team of the Corona Program and later managed the Hexagon Program. The information gained from the Corona and Hexagon programs, “provided our government with information about just how strong the [Soviet Union] was,” explained Ray. The purpose of these spy satellites was to “determine the order of battle of the Soviet Union and whether or not we were strong enough to confront them, which we were,” said Ray. With a team of 50 officers under his command, Ray was making tough decisions on a daily basis. “I had a budget of almost $200 million, but the reason we were successful was because of the good people on my team. That is what it takes, and I learned that quickly because you can’t really accomplish anything without good engineers,” shared Ray.
As Ray reflected on his time in the Air Force, working on highly classified programs in hopes of keeping our country safe, he smiled and exclaimed, “What little was gained from the Corona Program and later the Hexagon Program probably kept [America] from going into World War III!” Ray’s amazing accomplishments did not end there. After retiring, Ray took on his next challenge, creating SEAKR – the world’s leader in solid state memory systems.
After retiring from the Air Force as a Colonel and doing a brief stint at Rockwell International, Ray and his eldest son, Scott, sat down at the family dinner table and began flipping through a bulky government catalog of Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) grants – now a handy, web accessible, searchable, PDF. They found a grant for a Solid State Recorder (SSR), the first of its kind. Scott thought he could build it, Ray had critical contacts, and the rest, as they say, is history.
As SEAKR flourished, Ray continued to pour his resources into what he believed was most important: education. He continued to support higher education throughout his career by donating tremendous amounts of surplus electronics to the University of Wyoming. In addition to these donations, Ray provided Colorado State University students the opportunity to utilize SEAKR’s facilities for the purpose of conducting vibration testing procedures.
To this day Ray encourages everyone around him to shoot for the stars just as he did throughout his life. “If you look on the bright side of why things happen, quite often they happen for good reasons. I had a great career and I enjoyed almost every minute of it,” said Ray with a chuckle. “It was a good life.”