Based in Swanzey, NH, ABTech was founded by Ken Abbott in 1997. ABTech designs and manufactures ultra precise machines with the highest level of geometric tolerances that modern day technology can achieve. Very few companies are capable of this level of precision. ABTech deals with metrology, this being measurement tools. Specifically, they make a machine that measures roundness with high precision. In addition to this, ABTech makes air bearings, which are a critical component of the previously mentioned machine. Subsequently, ABTech also uses air bearings to make other products to customer specification. It is ABTech’s extraordinarily precise measuring tools, air bearings, and capabilities of customization, that make this company so highly esteemed in precision.

Soon after being founded, ABTech developed a reputation for quality, reliability, and impeccable customer service. Because of this, organizations as large as NASA and GE aviation work with, and purchase ABTech products.

The article shown below is from the Keene Sentinel (January 2, 2015).  This article details a special optics machine that ABTech designed and built for NASA’s NuSTAR telescope. The NuStar telescope captured a photo of the sun that scientists claim to be “the best-ever view.” Unlike most telescopes, the NuStar was able to look at the sun without being damaged. This is because it was designed to look at extremely high energy X-rays. This collaboration between NASA and ABTech is a testament to the reliability and quality of ABTech

In addition to the contributions that ABTech has made to science and the precision machine sector, this company has made equally great contributions to the town of Keene, NH. ABTech is a family owned business that employs 23 members of the Keene community. While many smaller, family owned businesses have been bought by larger corporations, ABTech has remained family owned.

“So, I would really enjoy having it be a multi-generational business and having it live past me. Um, so, I don’t need to sell it and I don’t want to sell it.” -Ken Abbott

Maintaining a small business in the machine-tool sector is no easy task. In the lecture portion of this course, we learned a lot about de-industrialization. Specifically, companies in the Connecticut River Valley that were bought out by larger companies. An example of this can be found in “Deindustrialization in the Granite State,” an article written by our Professor, Marie Duggan, for Dollars and Sense. Don Brehm’s company, Pneumo Precision (this company manufactured diamond turning machines was bought out and “unfortunately for Keene’s precision technology community, Taylor Hobson moved production of Pneumo Precision’s Diamond Turning Machines to England in 1994.” Before founding ABTech, Ken Abbott worked for Don Brehm. Luckily for Keene, ABTech is not headed towards the same fate. As seen in the Keene Sentinel Article below, machine-tool makers are suffering, but ABTech has been able to power through.

Worker-owned independents like Pneumo Precision do exist today. However, most that turned down the large cash offers that mega-firms dangled in front of them, are multi-generational families. Brehm did not have a child who wished to run his company. Ken Abbott has two sons that work at ABTech and is hopeful that they will be interested in following in his footsteps in order to keep ABTech locally owned. However, it is certainly not a requirement.

“I hope to but that, you know, there’s no obligation. That would be something that they would have to want. Um there’s a lot of stress in owning your own business so uh, I have a few years left so my strategy or my plan is to really get this company financially sound, sounder than it is.” -Ken Abbott

Small businesses contribute to local economies by bringing growth and innovation to the community in which the business is established. Small businesses also help stimulate economic growth by providing employment opportunities to people who may not be employable by larger corporations. Small businesses tend to attract talent who invent new products or implement new solutions for existing ideas. Larger businesses also often benefit from small businesses within the same local community, as many large corporations depend on small businesses for the completion of various business functions through outsourcing. Small businesses are so important to the U.S. economy because 99% of all U.S. firms are small businesses, and they employ about half of the private workforce. They are responsible for 98% of the good exports, while creating jobs and igniting innovation. In addition to this, small businesses are giving women and minorities a chance to compete in the world of business (Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council).

In small, rural areas like Keene, a lot of companies have been swallowed up. When these companies are bought out by big corporations, they no longer give back to the community as much as a privately owned business would. Oftentimes, the president’s of these large, local companies don’t even live locally.

“If you look back at the history of this area, you have Markem, Kingsbury, MPB which is now Timken. You know, big corporations that the owners of those companies lived in this region and they gave back to the region.” -Ken Abbott

As said by ABTech, “Whether it’s company, client, or community, it is people, and the care and feeding of relationships that drive success. At ABTech we strive to make every interaction better by focusing on collaboration, learning, innovation and the well-being of all our stakeholders.”