Posted 7/9/2012 12:00 am
Updated 10 months ago
In 1960 Theodore Maiman of Hughes Research Laboratories successfully operated the first laser. The laser was refined several times over the course of a year and led to the first commercial laser company in 1961.
Eight years later Thomas Burgess was working for a telecommunications company when he became interested in Blount and George (now AGL Corporation) from Jacksonville. They made the very first pipe laser that started the construction laser industry. The power supply Blount and George used was very large and had an extremely short life span. Mr. Burgess knew with his electronics background he could produce a better product.
A High-Tech Startup
Like Apple, HP, and many start-up companies in Silicon Valley, Mr. Burgess cleared out his 2 car garage, recruited a few engineers, and produced his first product for Blount and George. The power supply they created cost half the price of their previous supplier and shrunk the product from the size of a bread box to that of a tea cup. In that Central Arkansas garage, Power Technology was born.
Today’s Power Technology looks a lot different. For starters they moved out of the garage to become a multi-million dollar company, now managed by Mr. Burgess’ two sons, Walter and William. Power Technology quickly moved beyond producing just the power supplies for lasers to manufacturing entire laser modules. As one of the first laser companies, Power Technology is frequently at the forefront of new technology.
“Our natural instinct is to be innovative, it is a part of who we are,” says Walter Burgess, VP of sales and Engineering. “We always get nearly impossible requests from customers. Most large corporations just say they do not offer a product that can solve their problem. We have a bunch of highly innovative engineers who get excited about solving a challenge deemed impossible. It is our culture.”
A Culture of Innovation
Over 80% of the laser modules that Power Technology ships are made custom to fit a specific customer’s needs. “Customers come to us with problems, not orders. We create solutions to those problems instead of products,” says Burgess. This level of innovation with every single product has won Power Technology countless awards including Arkansas Business of the Year and this year’s Arkansas Business 40 under 40 for Walter and William Burgess.
It is the culture of Power Technology that has driven the company to success. The average company tenure is over 17 years, with several workers from the original garage location still an active part of the company. This has helped preserve the company culture for new employees.
“We have a philosophy of hiring great people and empowering them to do great things. We are always looking for more great people.” says Burgess. “We work with really amazing high-tech products. Our people are exposed daily to a level of technology only a handful of people in this state ever get to experience. Our people enjoy the work they do here and they do a good job doing that work. As a result we have very low turnover and a rich internal knowledge base.”
A Future of Doing Great Things
Power Technology looks to continue to make a larger impact in the Arkansas high-tech economy. They are working to double both domestic and export sales over the next 3 years, bringing with it new high-tech jobs. As the laser industry continues to grow, the future of Power Technology looks bright.
In addition Walter Burgess has been actively working to establish a photonics industry cluster in the state. The current photonics industry has an estimated $77 million impact in the state. Through support, awareness, and economic development that could expand into even more. “The more we can support growing the photonic community the more the state as a whole stands to gain. Technology jobs raise education, income, and standard of living. We are proud to support that in any way we can,” says Burgess.