Bedford's Safran Optics 1 set for growth
BEDFORD — After merging companies and securing a major defense contract with the U.S. Army, a local company is expanding its workforce and preparing for additional growth.
Safran Optics 1 is gearing up to deliver hundreds of its next-generation lightweight targeting system device, referred to as the Laser Target Locator Module II, which helps soldiers identify and locate targets.
The $304.5 million contract is expected to jumpstart additional opportunities for Safran Optics 1, according to company officials.
Joseph Bogosian, president and chief executive officer of Safran Optics 1, described the contract as a big win for the company headquartered in Bedford, adding it could be the start of some major production activity for the optical electronics business.
“We are on the verge, I think, of another two wins — another $13 million on top of the $305 million — and then we will be competing for more programs,” Bogosian said. The new contract, coupled with potentially more production opportunities, will create a healthy backlog of orders coming in throughout the next five years, he said.
Safran Optics 1 designs and builds advanced optical systems and equipment that provides soldiers with lightweight, high-tech products with a competitive edge.
With 73 employees at its Bedford location and 92 workers companywide, all of the production takes place inside of a three-story, 51,572-square-foot building housed at 2 Cooper Lane.
“Our workforce is expanding,” Bogosian said. “Here we are growing and hiring.”
Safran Optics 1 has hired 10 new employees since last summer, including program managers, engineers and production workers. It has additional job openings posted on its website.
This growth period, according to Bogosian, will allow the company to have adequate resources in place to support the amount of production that will occur in the coming years.
Some of those products include handheld thermal night vision devices with cutting edge technology for special forces. The COTI is a clip-on thermal imager, followed by the E-COTI with enhanced capabilities and better resolution.
At its headquarters in Bedford, Safran Optics 1 has a dark room where the technology is tested, and a third-floor tower that enables visitors to try the products in a real-life setting.
The company’s pocket laser range finder and its Laser Target Locator Module II and Moskito TI are just a few of the products on display in the tower showroom.
“We offer a range of different technologies,” Bogosian said.
In the building’s lower level is where the production magic takes place, according to employees. Utilizing a nearly cleanroom environment and different work cells, the production line includes assembly work, alignments, the final testing phase and cleanup efforts, according to David Piaseczny, product manager.
“There are some products that are built in Switzerland and we do modifications to them,” Piaseczny said.
Originally known as Optics 1, the company was founded by Robert Fischer, a California-based optical engineer, designer and former chief scientist for Hughes Aircraft. The Safran Group acquired Optics 1, through Vectronix in 2009 to pursue more opportunities in the U.S. market.
At the end of 2016, Vectronix Inc. merged with Optics 1 Inc., its U.S.-based research and development subsidiary, and now the company is known as Safran Optics 1 — a wholly owned subsidiary of Vectronix AG and a part of Safran Electronics & Defense, a Safran group company.
Under Bogosian’s guidance, the two companies merged — both of them operating in Bedford under one roof — in an effort to optimize work, remove security barriers and create a leaner structure for the company, he said.
Engineers and operations workers are now collaborating for the betterment of the development process, according to Bogosian, who said the merger has created a dynamic vibe at the company.
Joy Jacob, marketing communications manager with Safran Optics 1, agreed.
“This makes it much better for customers,” she said, explaining customers now have just one point of contact rather than dealing with two different entities.
Bogosian said there is a reputation of proven design and performance from both companies, and Safran Optics 1 will continue to research, develop, design and test complex optical systems known to be durable and quality devices for warfighters.