Feds tour AVTECH, a Warren success story
They're used to opulence and achievement, but members of Rhode Island's congressional delegation and a high ranking federal government official were still impressed when they visited the headquarters of AVTECH, Warren's high tech software and hardware firm, at the Cutler Mill Friday.
Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, Rep. David Cicilline and Marie Johns, the Deputy Administrator of the federal Small Business Administration, toured AVTECH's polished headquarters with the firm's founder and CEO, Michael Sigourney, and other AVTECH executives. They were there to see firsthand how AVTECH has thrived in the ultra-competitive high tech industry, and to learn more about how American businesses can be better served as they attempt to compete on the world stage.
AVTECH was a good fit. Mr. Sigourney founded the firm in 1988 and has grown it into one of the world's leading manufacturers of hardware and software that monitor environmental conditions in data and Information Technology (IT) centers. AVTECH's products are used by every branch of the United States government and by government and private industry in 177 countries to help keep crucial computer networks operating normally. The firm's innovative approach — it sells hardware, then offers yearly service plans to update it as needed — has set it apart from many competitors.
AVTECH has grown tremendously in recent years, aided in part by a $200,000 loan secured from the SBA in 2008, which allowed it to expand its business. In addition to the business growth, AVTECH has seen a tremendous change in its physical plant since moving from Newport to Warren.
Mr. Sigourney purchased the Cutler Mill five years ago and has transformed it into his showpiece, filling its halls and common areas with antiques, prints and furniture. He said AVTECH also strives to be a good, productive member of the community, opening up portions of the building like his Event Room for use by non-profits, and working quietly to help the town.
"We're trying to set an example for Warren, and I believe we're doing great things here," he told his guests.
They were impressed. Ms. Johns said AVTECH is a model for the SBA's approach, which is to lend helping hands to promising companies and help them expand their reach domestically and globally.
"This is really exciting," she said. "This is where it's growing; 98 percent of the world's markets are outside of our borders, and two thirds of the buying power is outside of the U.S., so these are the kinds of companies we've got to continue supporting to keep the United States as a leading economy."
The tour came as AVTECH announced its entry into a coalition to promote fair competition and protect business innovation and jobs.
AVTECH is a member of the newly created National Alliance for Jobs and Innovation, a non-partisan organization that aims to increase awareness of stolen intellectual property and its negative impact on jobs, innovation and economic growth. NAJI represents the apparel, manufacturing and technology industries and to date is composed of more than 100 U.S. companies.