Chuck and Kyle Thompson – Generations of Elite Experts

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July 26, 2022

Elite Electronic Engineering has provided testing services to the industry for more than 65 years. Whether dealing with standards for electromagnetic compatibility (EMC), moisture and corrosion, vibration, mechanical shock, photometric, tensile strength, and more in the realm of quality measurements, Elite has been there.

Among the reasons Elite can continue to provide reliable and timely testing is the longevity and dedication of its staff. Elite is fortunate to have generations of engineering talent, some of whom are members of the same family.

In Elite’s Environmental Stress Testing department, Team Leader Chuck Thompson and his son, Test Technician Kyle Thompson, have a combined 38 years of lab experience. Chuck has been with Elite for 27 of those years, the first ten as a test engineer and the past 17 as the team leader. His environmental qualification experience began in Florida testing radios and transponders for the military and rocket guidance systems. The severe tests required for that equipment prepared him for his career at Elite.

Chuck tells what followed: “After 8 years [in Florida], I returned to Downers Grove (my hometown) when my father was diagnosed with kidney failure and on dialysis. I sent a resumé to Elite Electronic Engineering and a few others in the area and soon received a call from [Elite founder] Jim Klouda. We spoke, and he invited me to come and see his operation. It was just what I was looking for.” 

Elite was expanding its Environmental Stress Testing lab at the time, and Chuck was the right engineer in the right place. In the years since, Chuck has updated and modified test equipment, developed new test strategies, and trained younger technologists to continue the work.

One of those younger technologists is his son Kyle, who at age 12 with his brother helped his dad with lab-cleaning chores. Chuck had coached Kyle’s youth baseball team years before and spoke of the difference between a family relationship and workplace roles. “When Kyle came to Elite, we talked about it. I was the environmental team leader and he would be reporting to me. Being at home was different from being at work. Because I had been his coach when he was younger, we understood how that relationship is different from a work environment.” Chuck had talked about his work when Kyle was younger. “I guess he liked the stories I would tell about the interesting tests we performed here and the latest products I would see and operate.” 

As a young man, Kyle had worked briefly in Elite’s maintenance department, then moved into other technical work in printing, plumbing and construction. He became a weld inspector and test technician, learning how to interpret standards.

For a time, Kyle studied fire science and was planning his wedding when Chuck told him of an environmental test technician opening at Elite. Kyle talked about his decision to accept the position: “Elite takes great care of their employees, and it would be an outstanding opportunity for a stable, long-term career. I also wanted the benefit of working with my dad and following in his footsteps.” 

Kyle is now one of the veteran test experts in Elite’s renowned environmental lab. “11 years and two kids later, I’m still working at Elite and looking forward to the future.” There are advantages to working together, as Kyle explains, “I learned a lot from my dad, watching him fix things and learning what he was doing. When I started at Elite, it was natural for me to go to him with questions.”

Chuck adds that it goes both ways. “Kyle has taught me a lot about Vibration Testing. He’s also there when I need help with something on my computer.” Workday questions sometimes continue after hours. Kyle said, “We both live near here and can come in if one of us needs help. It works well for us.”

There are a lot of reasons for Elite’s sustained success and reputation for trusted results. Those reasons include the deep roots that run throughout its expert staff. Chuck and Kyle, along with their colleagues in the Environmental Stress Testing lab, offer the timely, trusted service Elite has provided for decades. Describing his work with Kyle, Chuck sums it up: “I am glad that Kyle works for a company that cares about their employees as much as Elite Electronic Engineering does and maybe stay for 27 years like his dad.”

That’s how you get trusted results. Contact Elite and put its deep experience to work for you.