Profile

Zaven Paul Akian ’64

Alumni, Administration/Staff, Executives and Leaders, Board Member


 

Published:

April 2, 2012
Tagged: Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, Garden City, College of Arts and Sciences
 

Zaven Paul Akian ’64

Alumni, Administration/Staff, Executives and Leaders, Board Member


 

Member of Adelphi University’s Profiles in Success program.

CEO, Western Filter, Western FluiDyne, Integra Technologies

Favorite professors: “John Kreitner, who gave a take home final exam in ‘Advanced Differential Equations’ that was so difficult no one was able to fully answer the question; and Elizabeth Leonard, who was a mentor to all the international students.”

Favorite memories: “Playing soccer in fields of mud with the incredible conference champion 1963 team that included students from all over the world.”

Value of an Adelphi degree: “Adelphi gives you a good career education and the ability to take advantage of the skills and knowledge that you gain. It prepares you to be a good citizen of the world.”  

Watching His Businesses Take Flight

Zaven Paul Akian ’64 has become accustomed to seeing planes fly overhead and knowing that his company’s technology keeps them safely in flight. Receiving the personal thanks of an astronaut a few years ago was out of the ordinary.

In 2003, Mr. Akian’s principal company, Western Filter, acquired Puroflow, a small publicly owned manufacturer of filtration products that supplied fuel tank diffusers for the Space Shuttle Discovery. In 2005, his engineers discovered a problem with material supplied prior to 2003.

Mr. Akian’s team alerted NASA, which decided to delay the launch for a month. Eleven of his engineers worked around the clock to develop and manufacture a new and safer diffuser. Following the successful launch of the Space Shuttle, a very grateful Discovery crew member, dressed in a full astronaut suit, accompanied the president of Lockheed Martin Space Systems on a visit to Western Filter to award a testimonial tribute.

Western Filter designs and manufactures hydraulic filtration systems for commercial and defense aerospace applications. The Company’s principal customers include Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Parker Hannifin, Rolls Royce, Northrop Grumman, Honeywell, and Agusta among many others. It has exclusive long-term agreements to supply filtration systems on projects such as Rolls Royce engines, Honeywell APU engines, hydraulic manifolds in U.S. nuclear submarines and surface vessels, the U.S. Army’s M1 Tank hydraulic system, and others.

Mr. Akian marked another milestone in 2006, when Western Filter was awarded a life exclusive agreement to supply hydraulic filtration systems to Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner.

Mr. Akian purchased Western Filter in 1978, when it was a nearly bankrupt operation with 20 employees. At the time, he sold his house and moved his family into an apartment to help finance the purchase. Today, Western Filter is the world’s largest independent supplier of filtration systems to the aerospace and defense industries.

He has also channeled his success into several other commercial ventures. In 1985, Mr. Akian founded an industrial real estate development firm in Southern California. In 1998, he provided start-up funding for Integra Technologies. And in 1999, he acquired Western FluiDyne, a manufacturer of industrial pumps and valves.

Integra Technologies has grown from three engineers to a staff of 91, and is the world’s premier supplier of high-power radio frequency transistors and power amplifiers. Its clients include major military and commercial radar and avionics manufacturers, with emphasis on C, L, S, and X bands.

Mr. Akian, of Armenian descent, came to the United States as an international student from Lebanon. Originally recruited to play soccer for New York University, he transferred to Adelphi in 1961 to find a “more welcoming environment for international students.” He fondly recalls his days on the multi-national soccer team, “in those days the international students taught skills and directed strategies.”

Mr. Akian studied mathematics and was an active member of the CCUN, a model United Nations program that included an annual conference at Harvard. He has vivid memories of a short-lived stage career. At a variety show performed by international students, he was singing a popular French song, when he forgot all the words. In a moment of panicked inspiration he gambled that the audience members didn’t know French and replaced the lyrics with a few expressions he hoped no one understood!

Mr. Akian lives in Brentwood, California, with his wife, Sonia. When he’s not working, he enjoys hiking, exercising, reading, and spending time with his family, in particular his first grandchild, Lucine Janique, born in November 2006. For now he has no plans to retire, “It’s still fun to create new things and work to be a good citizen of the world.”

 
Tagged: Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, Garden City, College of Arts and Sciences
 
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