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.

"We compete on both ends of the product spectrum," said Walter Burgess, vice president of sales and engineering.

Innovation Sparked Company

The roots of the company date back to 1969 when Thomas Burgess developed a new and improved power supply for a Jacksonville manufacturer, Blount & George Inc., the predecessor of today's AGL Corp.

The smaller, less expensive, longer-lasting, more reliable power supply put together by Burgess proved a hit and a welcome innovation for Blount & George's line of construction-related lasers. Power Technology, incorporated in 1970, was off and running, with a corporate moniker reflecting the firm's foundational laser product.

"I think they had about 10 people working out of the garage when we were born," Walter Burgess recalls his father saying of the company's size circa 1973.

Back then, gas lasers were the norm, and helium-neon lasers with a familiar red beam were common. When laser scanners began taking over supermarkets and shops, the devices were often equipped with Power Technology components.

Laser trivia: A 10-pack of Wrigley's Juicy Fruit chewing gum (67 cents) holds the distinction as the first product in a grocery store to log through a bar-coding system using the fledgling UPC code on June 26, 1974.

Much smaller laser diodes became the rage, and the Power Technology catalog features scores of related components, accessories and diode laser modules, which look like a variant of a Star Wars light saber.

Early work with the U.S. Naval Research labs led to other government contracts and military assignments. Power Technology is a contributor to the U.S. Missile Defense's Airborne Laser system, tasked with tracking and destroying an in-flight ballistic missile before it can deploy its warheads

"Homeland security has been a good market for us over the past few years," William Burgess said.

And a confidential one. On a tour of Power Technology, a lab-coated engineer is huddled over an optical spectrum analyzer, measuring the wavelength of a blue laser. Walter starts to elaborate on what he's up to but thinks better of it.

"It's one of the more exciting things we've done in the past few years," Walter Burgess said. "Let's just leave it at that."



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