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Optimax concentrates on employee training

Optimax Systems Inc. continues its growth path, with work in emerging technological markets and a commitment to employee development.

The company has some 300 employees, up from 270 last year, and expects to increase its workforce this year by roughly 10 percent.

For the past several years, the Ontario, Wayne County-based firm has been focusing on workforce training and development, helping provide employees with skills to best serve the company’s markets.

The business also has added space and equipment at its site to further keep up with demand.

In late 2013, Optimax completed the final phase of a $10 million expansion. Over the course of some two years, Optimax increased its size by 20,000 square feet, adding manufacturing room and optical coating capabilities.

“We are now seeing the fruits of our efforts,” CEO Richard Plympton said.

Founded in 1991, Optimax designs and manufactures precision custom optical components for industries that include aerospace, defense and consumer electronics. It ranked fifth on the Rochester Business Journal’s most recent list of optics and imaging firms.

Sales, too, have been increasing. Optimax leaders expect sales to grow 16 percent this year over last. In 2016, sales were up 15 percent.

Optimax was one of 21 local firms that made Inc. magazine’s annual list of the 5,000 fastest-growing private companies in America in 2016. It ranked at No. 4,999.

The company’s growth is coming from industries such as lithography and defense, as well as opportunities in medical and life sciences, Plympton said. The firm can supply optical components for products ranging from mobile devices to head-up displays used by jet fighters.

In addition, Optimax has been making strides in the directed energy market, which involves using devices such as high-end lasers in the defense arena.

The firm is working on optical components for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Mars Exploration program. Optimax also provided optical components to the program in 2012.

Optimax leaders are known for their commitment to the local optics and manufacturing communities.

Plympton last year received the Rochester Regional Photonics Cluster Leadership Award for working with fellow members and the community to promote the Rochester region’s optics, photonics and imaging industry.

Michael Mandina, Optimax president, has been a leader in the Finger Lakes Advanced Manufacturers’ Enterprise. FAME is an effort to increase the region’s advanced manufacturing through initiatives including workforce development.

Optimax has been a longtime supplier of Photon Gear Inc., a supplier of high precision lens assemblies, also based in Ontario. Gary Blough, Photon Gear’s president, said Optimax is a good partner, noting its employees are always willing to work with his firm to help solve challenges.

“Even with a really technologically challenging project, they are able to do almost anything,” Blough said.

He also is impressed with the modern manufacturing facility Optimax has created and the employee culture Optimax leaders have worked to develop.

A driving factor in Optimax’s success is its workforce, Plympton said, adding that employee development is a priority at the business.

Benefits offered include profit-sharing, apprenticeship and tuition reimbursement programs, along with internal classes in mathematics and optics.

Optimax provided some 1,000 hours of training on-site in the past month, Plympton said. Last year, roughly 50 employees enrolled in college courses, for which the firm pays.

“Empowering employees is accelerating our growth,” Plympton said.

Optimax Systems Inc.

Precision manufacturer of custom-optical components

Year founded: 1991

Top executive: Richard Plympton, CEO

Current employment: 300

Headquarters: Ontario, Wayne County

Website: optimaxsi.com

3/24/2017 (c) 2017 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-363-7269 or email madams@bridgetowermedia.com.

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