by Joan Tupponce
Nick Stergioulas, the founder and CEO of Safety Technologies Inc., is confident that his plans to invest $5.89 million in Virginia is the right move. “Virginia is an ideal place for business because of the quality of its work force and its proximity to major markets,” he says.
The plans will include adding 15 jobs to the company’s administrative offices in Reston and opening a manufacturing plant in Lunenburg County, creating another 46 jobs.
STI will be the only U.S. manufacturer for the Detonation Suppression System (DSS), a special aluminum alloy inserted in fuel tanks. The patented technology prevents explosions and mitigates the spread of fires in all types of fuel storage systems containing flammable liquids and gases.
“In this part of the state the technology has a lot of application, the Department of Defense and Homeland Security, for example,” says Gerald L. Gordon, president and CEO of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority.
STI’s move marks the second time in recent months that a Fairfax-based company has announced plans to open a facility in Southern Virginia, a region that has faced high unemployment with the decline of traditional industries such as tobacco, textiles and furniture manufacturing.
ICF International plans to open a $15 million operations center in Henry County in December, creating 539 jobs. Those positions will help at a time when one of the county’s biggest employers, StarTek, plans to close a call center by July 22, eliminating 631 jobs.
Stergioulas chose Lunenburg for its manufacturing plant because it was close to Virginia’s ports, an important asset since STI has marketing and distribution rights for DSS to a number of countries, including Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Stergioulas believes DSS will help the military ward off attacks against fuel tanker trucks. “They have many incidents. They are easy to attack,” he says. “[The U.S.] loses about 50 to 60 a month in Pakistan and Afghanistan. We hope that our product will become the standard for protection for that type of accident.”
Stergioulas also notes that DSS also can be used in fueling planes at airports. “Once we set up a facility, we should be able to go to all major airports to [see if they can] use our material in fuel tanks.”
Stergioulas is looking at a fall opening date for the 60,000-square-foot plant in Lunenburg. In the next three to five years, the company expects to create a total of up to 200 jobs at its Virginia locations. “We are anxious to start,” Stergioulas says. “We have a lot of inquiries from U.S. companies and agencies as well as several governments outside of the U.S.”
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