In a time marked by economic downturns for many equipment manufacturers, Waltham, Mass.-based Extech Instruments, a subsidiary of Flir Systems Inc., announced another year of sustained growth, with record sales of $48 million in 2008. The company also reports that demand remains high for its handheld test and measurement equipment.

Says Jerry Blakeley, general manager at Extech, "These are difficult times for many of our customers. Even with restricted budgets, many electrical and HVAC professionals still need to replace or upgrade tools. Many are taking a closer look at Extech’s product line when considering a multimeter, infrared camera or other test equipment.

"Professionals are voting with their wallets, so to speak. Prominent meter manufacturers are reporting softening demand because of high prices, but low quality, discount-brand meters are not the answer pros are looking for either. More and more customers are scrutinizing specs and reading online reviews to level the playing field with apples-to-apples comparisons," Blakeley adds.

Extech continued to gain market share in handheld test and measurement and entry-level infrared cameras in 2008, with total sales and product shipments reaching all-time highs.

In a related development, market research firm Frost and Sullivan reported the rise of combination testers as one major price-driven trend in test and measurement. Extech offers multifunction meters such as its range of testers and meters with built-in infrared thermometer capabilities.