Engineering Firm Building Local Foundation
St. Petersburg, Florida , November 15, 2002 .
(as featured in The Orlando Business Journal)
An engineering company rooted in St. Petersburg has crossed the corridor to
Orlando and found some early success.
Custom Manufacturing & Engineering™ (CME™) recently won a pair of contracts
totaling $1.3 million from the Orlando-based simulation operations of the U.S. Army
In traversing Interstate 4, the company has hit upon one feature common to both
Central Florida and Tampa Bay: High-tech military operations call both regions home.
And Custom Manufacturing has proven able to tackle government contracts.
In its first five years, the company grew through winning Small Business Innovation Research contracts, says company founder and President Nancy Crews.
Those contracts allow small businesses to receive money up front to solve problems for government agencies, including the military.
One of those contracts led to Custom Manufacturing building a ground sensor system to be used by Special Forces soldiers for surveillance and reconnaissance work. While that project came through a military command in New Jersey, the joint service command for Special Forces soldiers is at MacDill Air Force Base near Tampa.
Similarly, the commands of the Army and Navy's simulation and training commands are in Orlando.
"Orlando was a natural fit," Crews says. "It's the next largest city where there's a defense contracting agency."
From the Army's simulation office, Custom Manufacturing recently received a $1 million award from the Army for a device designed to track a speeding bullet and larger projectiles, says David Stephan, the company's Orlando-based project manager.
Custom Manufacturing is developing a device that will ride along with a shell and transmit a flow of data on the shell's flight, speed, position and the like.
On that job, Stephan says, the toughest task will be designing a power source for the sensor that can withstand the impact of being launched from a gun or piece of artillery.
That telemetry information falls under the instrumentation portion of the Army's Simulation, Training and Instrumentation Command, or Stricom.
Often, instrumentation is the forgotten part of the simulation industry. But it's also the part that best fits Custom Manufacturing's expertise in real-time system monitoring and control power management systems.
This first venture outside of St. Petersburg had some pretty strong incentives for Stephan, Custom Manufacturing's sole employee on the east end of Interstate 4.
Prior to opening an Orlando office full time this October, Stephan commuted from Orlando to St. Petersburg.
The company's Orlando office is set up in the University of Central Florida's technology incubator. But relative to the other tenants there, the company with its 125-plus employees and own manufacturing shop has some deeper resources.
And Custom Manufacturing & Engineering actually is looking to do some work for and with other shops there. Further east, the company envisions working with businesses at Kennedy Space Center and Melbourne's Harris Corp. "We can help," sums up Stephan.