The first inkling that we had that Walter Schoenmaekers might be open to an opportunity to work with Canberra came at a dinner hosted by Bill Wheeler (the US Representative for MHO) in San Francisco around 1980. Sometime during that dinner Walter looked at Orren and said something to the effect that Canberra could not afford to hire him. We later learned that Walter indeed wanted to leave MHO and had talked to Joe Baicker of PGT about taking a job with them.
Soon thereafter Canberra bought the embryonic Berkeley Germanium Corporation (BGC) which was failing. Meanwhile we had in our employ a detector expert working for us in Europe. Theo Bijvoets had been recruited from Harshaw Holland to set up a detector repair facility for us there. After training in detector service in Meriden for three months or so we sent him to England to set up the facility at our office in Faringdon. This was a quasi-successful effort but we concluded that it would not be adequate for all of Europe so Theo had returned to The Netherlands to look for facilities there. This took a lot of time and meanwhile we began to believe that we needed full scale production in Europe.
With a mounting investment in Canberra Semiconductor (nee BGC) we turned to Walter Schoenmaekers to put together a detector manufacturing company in Europe, thinking that he might eventually help us save the crystal growing effort if all else failed. This time we put together a joint venture for Ge detector production with Walter and Theo as minority partners in the business. Thus Canberra Detectors N.V. (CDNV) was established in Geel, Belgium on April 1, 1981 with Walter as Managing Director and Theo as Production Manager.
Ge(Li) detector repair services and exploratory work in HPGe production began within months. In September of 1981, Mike Yocum spent a week there teaching Walter and Theo how to make HPGe detectors and by the end of 1981production was underway, some ten units having been produced in the last quarter of the year. CDNV grew slowly for the next three years but the business became profitable in F.Y. 1983 with a volume of about $880k. Walter and Theo did not get along very well and after a couple of years Theo sold his share of the business to Canberra and left the company. He was replaced by Patrick Vermuelen, a capable and driven manager who has continued in this job ever since.
Canberra Detectors N.V. morphed into Canberra Semiconductor N.V. in 1985. For more read the chapter on that era.