Allentown Economic Development Corporation
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Monthly Archives: September 2012

coldedge

ColdEdge Technologies Sees Business Heat Up As Recession Cools

From iPhones to MRIs the components that make up the wonders of modern technology must undergo so pretty extreme tests before they meet the standards required by both research and the consumer market. Lasers, x-rays, spectroscopy, heat that would make the equatorial seem like a fresh breeze and cold that would put the Arctic winter to shame.

And when the researchers, scientists and engineers need to reach those frigid temperatures, they turn to ColdEdge Technologies in Allentown. For the past four years founders Ajay Khatri, Jeff Romig, Eric Lecher and Terry Rufer have been supplying the equipment that can reduce the testing temperatures to -455 Fahrenheit or -270 Centigrade – about as close to Absolute Zero as possible.

“They want to look at these materials in all temperatures to see how they react and respond,” Rufer explained during a recent tour of the ColdEdge assembly facilities at the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center in Allentown. “And we have just the thing they want when they want to get it cold.”

Working with a staff of four full-timers and a handful of part-timers, ColdEdge use equipment purchased from the Sumitomo Heavy Industries Cryogenics Group – also based in Allentown – and modify the equipment to reach the frigid temperatures needed for materials research. Rufer, Romig and Khatri are Sumitomo alumni who left the company when it was still the Air Products “Advanced Products Division” and went out on their own to forge cold new pathways.

“We take their coolers and reconfigure them for research,” says Rufer, a Long Island native and trained civil engineer who began his career with Grumman Aerospace before coming to the Lehigh Valley to work for the APD Division. “We make the parts that go between cooler and the materials being tested.”

Rufer uses his past sales and marketing experience to build the client base while Katri uses his engineering and mechanical background to oversee the technical end of the business. In many ways, it has been a learning experience for both men as well as their employees.

“You can’t go to school and learn about this. There is no school that teaches cryogenics,” Khatri explains. “It really is a hodge-podge of different sciences.”

That’s why the company depends heavily on mechanically-minded staffers who can do the machining, milling, buffing and leak-testing and – most important — grasp the cryogenic principals and properties and translate that into building the equipment, adds Rufer.

Over the past four years at Bridgeworks Enterprise Center, they have built an international business with clients in the United States, Germany, India, China and Egypt, among others. Many of their clients are national laboratories right here in America – and as the recession subsides, business is growing.

“We started across the hall in a much smaller space and as we have grown and needed more space, AEDC (Allentown Economic Development Corp.) has worked with us to accommodate the growth,” Rufer said. “The facilities are very good, you can expand quickly, they will work with us on cash flow and we have access to experts.”

Because Bridgeworks is essentially a manufacturing incubator, the Cold Edge team knows they must eventually find new quarters. “Another three years or so and we’ll probably have to move out of here,” Rufer acknowledges. Meanwhile they continue to grow. He says the company will soon be looking to expand the team that has brought them this far.

Among the openings will be spots for mechanics, welders and an office manager to stay on top of the rapidly increasing paperwork load that comes with growth, he says.

To learn more about Cold Edge, contact Rufer at 610-628-6363 or trufer@coldedgetech.com or go to http://coldedgetech.com/.

Labor-Secretary

AEDC Kicks Off Energy Efficiency Project With Visit From U.S. Commerce Secretary

Just weeks after Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank delivered a $500,000 to upgrade the manufacturing incubator at Bridgeworks Enterprise Center, the Allentown Economic Development Corp. is already moving ahead on the project.

The work will make the iconic, saw-toothed roof of the one-time Mack Truck plant more energy efficient by replacing the aged, translucent roof panels with insulated glass and panels that retain the generous skylight but dramatically reduce the heating and cooling costs for the enormous building.

The changes will allow the AEDC staff to reinvest the savings in energy costs back into the incubator to encourage more manufacturing entrepreneurs who will in turn create jobs.

“It really is interesting to see the economy growing in places like this,”  Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank greets co-workers in Hive 4A during her visit to the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center.

Blank said when she visited Bridgeworks on Aug. 21. “Manufacturing has been one of the bright spots in the economy and 10,000 new manufacturing jobs were created in Pennsylvania over the last two years. We know that manufacturing jobs are good jobs that pay better than average and provide better benefits.”

AEDC Project Manager Molly Slevin Wood said the organization has already begun reviewing the grant documents to ensure that it meets all of the conditions, a process that must be done in the first 30 days. After that, they will prepare requests for proposals for the design process, which must be finished before they can seek bids for the actual renovation work.

Wood estimated that work could begin as early as March 2013 – or earlier, if there is another mild winter like 2012.

“The character of the building allows light to filter through but this renovation project will give us the energy efficiency we need,” she said, noting that energy savings will range from 30 to 60 percent of the current costs.

“Between AEDC and our clients, we’ll be putting less money into energy costs and more money into our innovation and helping our tenants,” AEDC Executive Director Scott Unger said at the presentation.

The work should not affect current incubator tenants or independent contractors who use the Hive 4A co-working space. It has been prioritized by zones over the four sections of saw-tooth roof and almost all of the work will be done on the exterior, starting in the tenant areas and out to the common areas of the building, she said.

Secretary Blank said the timing and economic conditions are just about perfect for more investment in manufacturing.

“As an economist I can say that you are not going to see lower interest rates that what we have now. If we choose not to invest now, we lose a key moment of opportunity,” she told the assembly gathered for her visit, which included Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski and regional economic development officials. “We look forward to working with the entrepreneurs and investors here.”