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STUART - Bruce and Martha Richardson helped make history by assembling the eye of a camera that recently captured evidence of water on mars. They also designed and built electronics for submarine sonar detectors and NASA's Chandra X-Ray camera now in deep orbit.
The Richardsons are now expanding their business with help from the new high-tech business incubator in Stuart. Run by IRCC, the incubator provides office space, administrative help and marketing advice.
Bruce Richardson is an electrical engineer who first went into business on his own in 1981. Since 1992, the Richardsons' company, Micro Hybrids Inc. of Medford, NY, has shown promise by making tiny, specialized electrical components for clients such as Princeton University, Lucent Technologies and Northrup-Grumman.
Within three years, Richardson and his wife, Martha, expect to employ up to 75 people in Stuart and do $20 million in annual sales from the high-tech incubator with a new firm called Micro Hybrids South. They plan to do that by raising venture capital and developing a marketing strategy and business plan that focuses on the telecommunications industry.
"I'd say that ($20 million) is a real number," said Richard Breck, executive Director of the International Microelectronics and Packaging Society, a trade group based in Reston, VA, with 12,000 members. "The market is just exploding here and abroad."
Four years ago, Richardson said, he built the prototype for a new electrical circuit that made it possible to deliver voice, video, data, phone, and TV signals through one fiber optic line in every household, resulting in more reliable communication. The client for that prototype was Lucent Technologies.
The Mars project involved assembling the eye of the camera for the Mars Global Surveyor. Richardson responded to a request for proposal and surprisingly won the contract with California Institute of Technology after determining that current technology made the project impossible.
"I got a call and they said, 'Well, Mr. Richardson, that's exactly what we wanted to hear.' I told them I thought it was undoable, and we worked around that," he said.
In the lucrative telecommunications industry, Richardson said he competes with about 20 large microelectronic manufacturers nationwide.
"I know that I can outbid just about every one of them because they tend to be top-heavy," he said.
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