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March 17. 2013 8:10PM

Milford's Tech Resources Inc. looks for commercial jobs as defense work declines


Susan Lints and John Murphy of Tech Resources in Milford test a set of missile warning systems prior to delivery for a new fighter aircraft. (COURTESY)

MILFORD - Despite fighting the last few years to stay open and looming sequestration cuts adding uncertainty to the industry, executives at Tech Resources Inc. are looking for ways to expand their business into new markets with a goal of hiring new people.

Four years ago a boom in foreign markets allowed TRI, which designs and builds testing equipment for military aircraft, to hire 20 new employees. However, a sharp dive in the economy and internal problems resulted in the layoffs of those new hires, and company President Paul Vermette said the goal is to bring those jobs back.

"Our goal is to grow the company, get more sales and hire more people. The goal is to get back up to (previous) funding levels so we can have jobs for people who need them."

As a business 100 percent dependent on Department of Defense contracts and with massive budget cuts in military spending looming due to sequestration, Vermette said TRI is now looking into ways to expand into adjoining markets to head off any DOD business they might lose.

"We are looking to expand into commercial markets just in case. It's a good strategy to have, and you don't want all your eggs in one basket."

With TRI currently sitting at about 25 employees, Vermette said that "it's the uncertainty of what is going to be cut (due to sequestration). We aren't aware of any specific cuts that are going to effect us, but we know that their will be due to less funding. The DOD will end up buying less gear, less equipment, but right now we don't know how it will effect us, but in six months or a year from now it could really hurt us."

For 33 years, TRI has specialized in designing and building testing equipment for early warning and missile defense systems on military aircraft such as the F-18 and B1 bomber.

"We have been on the F-18 since day one, from the F-18A to the F-18 Super Hornet," Vermette said, who added, "the testing equipment is very important because a pilot wouldn't know their missile defense isn't working."

Mike Barrett, director of advanced programs, said that over the last year TRI has focused "on investing in our own technology and to see how it might work in other products."

Barrett said that as an example of how TRI might still function without DOD contracts is a recent deal with Agilent Technologies, a Hewlett-Packard spinoff that develops testing equipment, who recently contracted TRI for help in developing one of their products.

Barrett said Agilent was impressed with the work TRI did in helping them develop cheaper, smaller, commercial alternatives for testing military aircraft.

"They just needed some insight on the use model, and that is where we came in," Barrett said.

Barrett said TRI is constantly on the move looking for business opportunities in new areas. He went on a trade mission to Montreal with Gov. John Lynch to promote the aerospace market.

"We also have already met with Gov. Maggie Hassan, and hopefully she is proactive in going on trade missions as well," he said.

Barrett added that the goal for the future of TRI is to invest in technology, travel more to open up new markets, and enter adjacent markets so that the company is not entirely dependent on DOD contracts.

"We don't have a crystal ball, but we are hoping that applying our expertise in other markets will help us grow," Vermette said.



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