Friday June 28, 2019

SRC's Steady Growth

Syracuse nonprofit continues steady climb upwards
By Lou Sorendo

    It’s one thing to be producing cutting-edge technological solutions to solve challenging threats to the nation’s defense and intelligence communities.

    It’s another to be applying it to defend the country’s war fighters as well as overall security.

    SRC, Inc., a nonprofit research and development corporation headquartered in North Syracuse, does just that.

    Its research and development in radars and electronic warfare systems — including developing state-of-the-art counter unmanned aerial systems (UAS) program — help to defend the nation’s military and security.

    SRC’s major customers include all four major branches of the U.S. military, as well as the intelligence community.

    SRCTec, LLC, a subsidiary of SRC, was recently awarded a $20 million contract by the U.S. Army to update technology to maintain its effectiveness against increasingly sophisticated electronic warfare threats.

    Also, the Army awarded SRC a $108 million contract to help it defeat enemy drones on the battlefield, marking one of the company’s single largest orders for the technology.

    SRC’s electronic systems, whether they be counter UAS, radar or electronic warfare systems, are in high demand, said Paul Tremont, chief executive officer of SRC.

    “Our customers can’t get enough of them, and can’t get them fast enough,” he said.

    SRC does a significant amount of work with data analytics, a specialty that it has focused on for more than 50 years.

    “We provide data analytics to provide intelligence to our war fighters and airmen and their resources like aircraft to keep them safe from threats,” Tremont said.

    “We’ve been doing that for quite some time. We have a tremendous demand for that, and it has helped our growth. It has also helped our growth into Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom,” he said.

    SRC extended into the global market four years ago, and now international business represents about 10% of its activity.

    Tremont predicts in five to six years, that percentage will grow to 20.

    The company was formed by Syracuse University in 1957 as Syracuse University Research Corporation. It spun off from the university in the 1970s to become an independent organization known as the Syracuse Research Corporation.

    In 2006, it formed SRCTec, LLC, a high-tech manufacturing subsidiary.

    In 2009, it officially changed its name to SRC, Inc. Over the past decade, it has worked to bring innovative technologies to commercial and international markets by creating additional subsidiaries, including SRC Australia, SRC Canada and SRC UK.

    In expansion mode:
    SRC recently broke ground on a 61,000-square-foot addition to its SRCTec Cicero location.

    Its building in Cicero will nearly double in size as a result of the addition.

    The existing facility is 141,000 square feet and employs 200 workers. The facility is at 5801 E. Taft Road.

    Demand is growing not only for the company’s R&D capabilities, but also for the manufacturing of products designed for customers by SRCTec, LLC.

    Tremont noted SRCTec only featured two products when the subsidiary was launched in 2006. Today, it is creating about a dozen products.

    At that pace, it will be producing about 25 products five years from now, he said.

    “There is greater demand for our products, and that is why we need more floor space,” he noted.

    Tremont said the shell of the addition should be in place by October and manufacturing in the new space will begin in early 2020.

    SRCTec will be adding 130 high-tech manufacturing and related jobs as a result of the addition.

    Tremont noted that job growth is expected to occur over a two- to three-year period.

    In April, the company was in the midst of hiring about 60 additional quality, test and manufacturing engineers as well as assemblers. The balance of needed workers will be hired once the addition is complete.

    “These are all high-tech jobs involving work on advanced electronic systems,” Tremont said.

    In all, the CEO noted the company is looking to hire up to 400-plus workers throughout its entire enterprise before the end of its fiscal year on Sept. 30.

    Those workers will primarily be in areas such as software, electrical, systems and digital engineering.

    Two-thirds of that new job growth will occur in Central New York, while the remainder will be spread out across its eight regional offices.

    SRC has multiple offices and customer support sites throughout the United States and around the world.

    SRC announced in 2017 it planned to double its workforce by hiring about 1,000 new employees over five years. SRC employs about 1,000 people at its corporate headquarters and manufacturing facility in CNY, and about 1,450 nationwide.

    Countering drone threats:
    Detecting and stopping unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, is part of a major initiative for SRC, which has been in the anti-drone business for a while.

    Tremont said SRC has been working in the counter UAS sector for more than 10 years. “That’s even before a lot of companies that are in the market were even started,” he said.

    “Our major competitive edge in this area is that we start working on these challenges and problems that impact our national security before our military customers are even working on them,” Tremont said. “We invest our own dollars back into the company to start solving these problems.

    He said SRC has been delivering and deploying systems for military customers.

    “They are doing the job protecting our war fighters, our airmen, and protecting sensitive locations against drone activity,” he said.

    Tremont said SRC’s systems are being used in the field, which is why there is an upswing in manufacturing counter UAS products.

    “We don’t stop. We don’t have a product and say, ‘that’s it. That’s good forever.’ We are continually enhancing those products and capabilities, because the threat doesn’t stay still. Our adversaries are very smart also, and they know what technology is all about,” he said.

    Tremont noted in today’s world, it’s not difficult to acquire electronic equipment, assemble it and create a product.

    “That’s what our adversaries do. There’s off-the-shelf stuff they can buy and cobble together. We always have to be prepared and stay one, two and three steps ahead of them,” he added. “That’s what SRC does.”

    He said SRC’s systems will look totally different a year from now.

    “Today, you can drive it up and use it. Tomorrow, it’s going to be on the move and portable. It’s going to be lighter weight, consume less power and have more capability. That’s where we are going,” Tremont said.

    Life cycle management:
    Characterizing SRC as a “very flexible and agile company,” Tremont said the company delivers innovative solutions that meet threats, “and we do it in a very timely fashion.”

    In addition, he said, SRC makes sure it supports its systems “150 percent” through its product life cycle management approach.

    After delivering a product that meets requirements, SRC supports it by making sure the customer knows how to use it, and if they have any concerns or want changes, the company “steps up to the plate and helps make those changes,” he said.

    “Customers like our transparency, like our honest approach, and like the fact that we are not in it to make a buck. We are in it to provide solutions and to protect our national security, our fighters and our airmen,” he said.

    Tremont said all the work SRC does is sensitive, akin to what the government calls classified.

    “We have to be very protective of not only what we provide to the military, but our intellectual property that goes behind it,” he said. “We get dinged just like any technology company from those adversaries and countries that want our trade and technology secrets. I call all the work we do very sensitive.”

    The challenge, Tremont said, is finding ways to protect information in this world of cyber threats.

    “You can’t pick up a paper or read an online article without seeing something about a cyber hack or phishing attack,” Tremont said. “As a result, we have to educate our workforce all the time about being very careful. We have to have the best cyber tools around.

    “It’s very difficult, but something we have to do. Everyone who lives in this country has to protect themselves.”

    Philanthropic efforts:
    SRC has a significant economic impact on CNY, Tremont noted, that extends beyond the obvious benefits of job creation.

    “We are continually supporting Central New York communities, as well as other communities where we have our regional offices in,” he said.

    Tremont noted SRC has three focus areas when it comes to its philanthropic pursuits.

    The first involved STEM, or curriculum that stresses science, technology, engineering and math.

    “Our efforts with STEM is all about getting our future workers and leaders who are in kindergarten, grammar school, middle school and high school interested in STEM,” he said.

    SRC primarily focuses its STEM efforts on the less-fortune residents of the city of Syracuse and surrounding suburbs.

    Not only does the company provide financial support, but it also creates activities such as inviting students to its facilities to show them what a STEM career is all about and what it can provide.

    “We work with Syracuse University, the Manufacturers Association of Central New York, and the City of Syracuse School District to help promote this. It is a big team effort and we’re glad to be part of the team,” he said.

    “We want to make sure we have a growing workforce to support not only what SRC does, but what the whole community does. That has a tremendous economic impact on the future,” he added.

    The second major focal point for giving is the military. SRC supports the Wounded Warrior program, Clear Path for Veterans, and Honor Flight, an organization dedicated to transporting for free as many U.S. military veterans as possible to Washington, D.C. to see memorials of the respective wars they fought in.

    Its third main philanthropic focus is supporting the United Way of Central New York.

    “There are a lot of nonprofit organizations that provide a tremendous amount of good for the less fortunate that serve as the backbone of our communities,” Tremont said. “They are helping to raise the level of a lot of citizens in our community. The United Way makes sure it is funding organizations that have a sound plan and that do good work.”

    He noted SRC’s employees personally contribute every year to the United Way campaign, and the company matches what they donate. In 2018, SRC and its employees contributed $560,000 to the United Way.

    SEC also helps organizations such as CenterState CEO and MACNY by sharing its marketing and business expertise, thereby fostering a better foundation for economic growth in Central New York.

    During Tremont’s tenure at SRC, he and staff have discussed going public or becoming employee-owned versus its nonprofit status.

    “The tremendous advantage of being a nonprofit for me is that we can be focused on the right things and what is important, and that is accomplishing our mission and not the bottom line.

    We’re not focused on the bottom line; we earn profits, but we focus on our mission, which is to provide innovative solutions to help keep America and its allies safe and strong.”

    Tremont said everything SRC does is focused on that.

    “I believe if we were an employee-owned or for-profit, we’d be more focused on how we are creating value for individual employees or for shareholders and stockholders. We want to create value for the corporation and its customers not based on what a share is equal to, but for sustaining jobs and growth here at SRC,” he said.