Showcase lets tech companies shine
Original Story featured in The Journal Record
By: D. Ray Tuttle
Posted: 08:28 PM Friday, August 23, 2013
BROKEN ARROW – Tactical Electronics announced on Friday that within the next two years it will expand into a new facility that is five times the size of its current one.
Ben Kimbro, executive vice president of Broken Arrow-based Tactical Electronics, announced the plan before an audience of 200 people during the Oklahoma Technology Showcase on Friday.
“I will not make the prediction like I did before of saying we will never outgrow the facility,” Kimbro said to laughter. “We will remain in Broken Arrow.”
The showcase, a statewide event held in Broken Arrow for the first time, featured Tactical Electronics and nine other innovative companies at the Northeastern State University campus.
In addition, more than 50 vendors and 250 attendees were registered, said Kinnee M. Tilly, senior vice president of economic development for the Broken Arrow Chamber of Commerce.
“Our goal is to give attention to these 10 high-tech companies and offer them the opportunity to talk about their products,” Tilly said.
The conference would have been larger, but registration was limited to 250, Tilly said.
“We might have had more than 300,” Tilly said.
During a 10-minute presentation, Kimbro said the 15-year-old research and development and manufacturing company focuses on wireless camera systems. The company, which employs 70, designs tactical camera systems, bomb disposal equipment and unmanned aerial vehicles.
“Our mission is to protect those who protect us,” Kimbro said. “We help the good people do bad things to bad people.”
The equipment allows people to see inside rooms or tight spaces before placing their head or body inside, Kimbro said.
Beyond law enforcement and military application, TE plans to expand into the oil, gas, agriculture and medical industries.
“We are able to place sensors where you do not want to stick your head,” Kimbro said.
The company thrives on design challenges, he said. The U.S. Navy came to TE 11 years ago and wanted the company to develop a camera that could be attached to dogs.
“Camera on canines – a positively ridiculous idea – which is right up our alley,” Kimbro said. “We often go for the left-field solution, things that have not been done before, not tried before.”
The company will begin assembling packages of equipment to be used in weather-related applications. For example, equipment that could be used to locate people in buildings destroyed in the Moore tornado, Kimbro said.
“More than likely, that will happen again and we will be ready,” Kimbro said.
Potential applications in agriculture include limiting feral hog populations or spot chemical treatment of pecan trees, Kimbro said. Accessibility is also a challenge in the energy business, he said.
“And that is where the unmanned aerial systems are a great tool,” Kimbro said. ”They can go long distances by remote control and are cheaper.”
A full-scale helicopter costs $1,800 an hour to operate, while TE’s Rapture unmanned aerial vehicle operates at $14 an hour, Kimbro said. The device, called the Raptor, costs anywhere from $60,000 to $200,000 to purchase, depending on the gear and setup.
Meanwhile, other exhibitors took advantage of the conference to network and demonstrate their products.
Adam Polcha, a senior engineering intern from the University of Tulsa, is working with Miratech Corp. The company, which employs 55 people, designs exhaust emission systems.
“Coming to events like this allows us to showcase our technology,” Polcha said. “People are hesitant with new tech and the way it is employed.”
For example, Miratech has developed a device that mixes diesel and natural gas within an engine. The device can limit the amount of diesel fuel and switch to natural gas.
“People think about injecting gas into an engine and show concern,” Polcha said. “Events like this allow us to gain exposure and convince people the technology is a viable solution.”
Terry Cumbey, partner, in the accounting firm CCK Strategies, said the conference is a good way to meet different businesses, especially startups. The CPA firm, which employs 55, offers financial services.
“Also, it gives us a chance to meet potential customers and recruit new hires,” Cumbey said.