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OptiPro sees big opportunities for growth

Rochester Business Journal
May 13, 2016


(Photo by Kimberly McKinzie)

OptiPro Systems LLC expects to grow sales and staff in 2016.

The firm’s success can be attributed to four factors: its employees, customer care, software offerings and federal funding to help develop its optical machines, President Mike Bechtold said.

He expects those factors to continue driving the business forward.

“There are big opportunities for the future,” he said.

OptiPro, based in Ontario, Wayne County, and founded in 1982, has been developing and manufacturing precision optical fabrication machines and metrology systems for more than 30 years.

The company designs and builds computer-controlled grinding, polishing and measuring equipment for the precision optics industry. It is also a distributor for Mastercam software and Methods Machine Tools Inc.’s products.

OptiPro employs 77 workers, up from 73 in 2015. Bechtold anticipates employment reaching 80 to 85 workers by year-end.

He expects sales to grow, too, coming in 25 to 30 percent higher than 2015’s tally.

The firm’s optics business traditionally accounts for 60 percent of its revenues; distribution is responsible for the remaining 40 percent.

Maintaining customer relationships is essential, Bechtold said.

OptiPro works with customers’ engineers on cost, process efficiency, design improvements, testing and evaluations to develop fabrication and metrology systems that add value to customers’ overall capabilities.

The current economic climate is helping the firm, he said, noting manufacturing has been fairly strong, with businesses either replacing older equipment  or adding to their inventories because of increased capacities.

OptiPro also has been successful working through the Small Business Innovation Research program, a competitive federal program that encourages small businesses to pursue research and development initiatives that have the potential for commercialization.

OptiPro’s current research efforts include working on optics-related processes with NASA and the U.S. Navy.

In addition to the federal government, OptiPro works with leading aerospace and defense companies, such as Lockheed Martin Corp. and Raytheon Co. Its primary focus is on U.S. customers, but it also works with some in Canada.

OptiPro does business with several local optics companies, including Optimax Systems Inc., located across the street from OptiPro.

Richard Plympton, Optimax Systems’ CEO, said OptiPro has been a valuable partner for his firm, making high-precision CNC machines and metrology instruments that help manufacturers like Optimax.

“Each year Optimax makes challenging prototype lenses for research and industry,” Plympton said. “OptiPro engineers work with us to create lens manufacturing solutions.”

OptiPro further empowers customers through its industry training programs, including OptiPro U, held at its Wayne County site, Plympton added.

A believer in a technical education, Bechtold has ties with local universities and colleges, providing student co-ops and helping spread the word about the optics manufacturing field.

In the future Bechtold sees opportunities for the local optics community through ventures such as the American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated Photonics slated to be housed in Rochester.

He is excited about another institute that local optics leaders are working to get through funds from the $500 million Upstate Revitalization Initiative. That institute would focus on optics, lasers and imaging initiatives.

A continuing challenge is finding qualified people for OptiPro’s technical positions, including machinists, opticians and service technicians, Bechtold said.

Nevertheless, he adds, “We have been able to grow because we have a great team who works together,” he said.

OptiPro Systems LLC
Designs and builds computer-controlled grinding, polishing and measuring equipment for the precision optics industry
Year founded: 1982
Top executive: Mike Bechtold, president
2015 ranking: 71
Current employment: 77
Headquarters: Ontario, Wayne County
Website: optipro.com

5/13/2016 (c) 2016 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email service@rbj.net.


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