Power Technology Expands: Alexander Firm Creates Niche In Giant Industry

by George Waldon  on Monday, Jan. 14, 2008 12:00 am  

William, left, and Walter Burgess are second-generation leaders at Power Technology.

Thomas Burgess, founder and CEO of Power Technology Inc., knew that lasers represented the future when he first began tinkering with product refinements during the 1960s. But he never saw where innovation would take those early models.

"Didn't have any idea at the time," said the 70-year-old businessman. "We knew it was growing but didn't have any estimates."

As lasers grew in number and uses, Power Technology established a multimillion-dollar niche in a multibillion-dollar industry dominated by large corporations.

The company grew from humble beginnings making laser components to producing laser modules that sometimes are components as well. Power Technology is proud to proclaim that its products have blasted into space on shuttle missions and submerged beneath the waves with deep-sea explorers.

In the biomedical field, its products aid surgery procedures, DNA analysis and cancer detection. Commercial uses of Power Technology laser-related products include inspecting semi-conductors and scanning bar codes.

The company's day-to-day leadership has shifted from Burgess to his twin sons, Walter and William.

The brothers quip that Power Technology became the biggest business in town after relocating its operations in 2000 from the Mabelvale area of southwest Little Rock. That statistical reality was aided by moving from the largest city in Arkansas to neighboring Alexander, population 640.

The 25,000-SF facility on Alexander Road just south of Interstate 30 represents a big jump from the early days when Thomas Burgess was the staff and his kitchen table was the production line.

Over the years, the company moved from the kitchen to the Burgess family garage to separate quarters that started at 3,000 SF, doubled to 6,000 SF and doubled again to 12,000 SF.

"We ramped up because laser technology is more and more popular with no end in sight," said William Burgess, 34, vice president of operations.

All but a handful of Power Technology's 65 employees work out of the Alexander facility. A half dozen are split between the company's West Coast sales office in Meadow Vista, Calif. (about 40 miles northeast of Sacramento), and its East Coast sales office in Endicott, N.Y. (about 80 miles south of Syracuse).

Annual revenue is more than $7 million, with domestic business accounting for about 75 percent of sales. Instead of high-volume, low-margin products, the firm traditionally has focused on items with bigger profit margins and more stable markets.

The Power Technology line ranges from a $50 laser built to operate from a household electrical outlet to a $15,000 custom-made laser.



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