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Rochester Top 100: Toptica grows with focus on scientific fields

Rochester Business Journal
May 3, 2013

Toptica Photonics Inc. of Victor continues to grow by supplying equipment for uses ranging from domestic security to searching for life in other galaxies.

Its growth has occurred largely because it provides customers with products they need and customer service to support those products, said Mark Tolbert, president and CEO of the domestic arm of Germany-based Toptica Photonics AG.
"Being where our customers need us and tailoring solutions to their needs-allowing them to either perform research faster or enhance their product performance and productivity-has led to our growth," Tolbert said.
Toptica also has grown from six to nine to 13 workers over the past three years.
Sales have grown, too. Tolbert declined to disclose sales for the privately held firm but said annual revenue over the past few years has grown roughly 30 percent on average.
Its growth earned the company the No. 27 spot on the 2012 Rochester Top 100 list of fastest-growing public companies, presented by KPMG LLC and the Rochester Business Alliance Inc. Toptica was No. 83 on the 2011 list.
He estimates a 20 percent increase in sales this year over last due to expansion in current markets as well as new market opportunities.
The company's business with original equipment manufacturers is the fastest-growing, particularly in the life sciences and semiconductor arenas, Tolbert said.
Tolbert, a graduate of Rochester Institute of Technology and the University of Rochester, said Toptica Photonics' technology helps create products for scientific research.
The firm develops and engineers customer-specific systems for research institutions and diode lasers for industrial manufacturers of metrology or production equipment. Its markets include quantum optics, biophotonics, and test and measurement.
Its Guide Star Laser, for example, gives astronomers a tool for deep exploration of space and time. As part of an optics system at the European Southern Observatory in Chile, it can counteract the turbulence of Earth's atmosphere and image objects from the distant universe, the company said.
Toptica also develops products dealing with terahertz radiation, a type of electromagnetic radiation that provides images used at places such as airports for security.
The company's customers range from Sony Corp. and Carl Zeiss Inc. to the National Institutes of Health and Harvard University. Local customers include UR and RIT.
The domestic arm in Toptica began in 2002, and the company moved its operations to Victor in 2008. Recently it added light manufacturing capabilities, including clean room space, to its sales and service operations there.
Last May, Toptica opened an office in San Jose, Calif., to expand its presence on the West Coast. The facility provides full local support, including laboratories for application consulting and hands-on demonstrations, and is near the universities and businesses of the Bay Area.
Its 7,000-square-foot facility in Ontario County is large enough to support near-term expansion, but Tolbert believes the firm may need larger digs in the future to support its growth.
The Rochester area is a good fit for the international company because of its low operating costs in comparison with other parts of the country and its trained workforce, Tolbert said.
The company's challenges include issues related to perceived market pressure and funding issues due to global market pressure, Tolbert said. Internal challenges include the firm's ability to meet market demand and grow fast enough to improve its lead times.
Thomas Battley, executive director of the Rochester Regional Photonics Cluster, said it is an advantage for the region to have Toptica here.
"They could have located anywhere, but because of its relationship with Rochester and the University of Rochester, we were lucky to attract them here," Battley said. "They employ highly educated, highly skilled staff, and I wish we had about 20 more companies like that in our region."

Toptica Photonics Inc.
Laser wavelength measurement and photonics component manufacturer.
2012 ranking: No. 27
Founded: 2002
Location: Victor
Top executive: CEO Mark Tolbert
Employees: 13

4/26/13 (c) 2013 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email

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