Enjoying ‘Unique’ success, innovators rev up a spinoff
One of the AERTC’s most productive companies is also its most aptly named.
As a one-stop solutions provider for innovators seeking help with ground-up design, computer-based simulations or field-based testing, Unique Technical Services is indeed one of a kind. Other companies on Long Island may specialize in prototyping or have the wherewithal to carry an almost-there technology across the goal line, but none offers the range of mechanical, electrical and computer-science knowhow found at UTS.
They’re so good at it, in fact, that the company’s principals decided to spin off a second business – Unique Electric Solutions, concentrating exclusively on the manufacturing of electric vehicles. No ground-up designing or ambitious, speculative grabs here, notes principal Joseph Ambrosio, just a steadfast focus on the production of electric-powered trucks and buses, stocked with field-proven technologies.
Ambrosio, UTS’s general manager, earned a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from NYIT-Old Westbury and boasts a lengthy background in the alternative-fuel transportation industry, through which he’s collected seven battery and thermal management-related U.S. patents.
His curriculum vitae – overflowing with hands-on experience with a variety of battery-energy storage and control systems, fuel cells, electric vehicles and other cutting-edge designs – powers his work at both UTS and UES.
Both companies boast office and laboratory space at the bustling AERTC, where the combined 15-person staff (10 for UTS, five for UES, both growing) makes thorough use of the surrounding environs. UES also recently joined Stony Brook’s Clean Energy Business Incubator Program (CEBIP).
“First and foremost, it’s all about being on campus,” Ambrosio notes. “It’s a great recruiting ground for us. We partner up with professors and faculty at the Advanced Energy Center and at Stony Brook at large.
“The access to students has been phenomenal,” the innovator adds, noting 70 percent of the combined staff are SBU alumni.
While the parent company’s engineering services are focused heavily on transportation applications, UTS will design electronic control and power systems and products for just about any application – a godsend to third parties with brilliant concepts and no practical way of bringing them to fruition.
Case in point: Northport-based innovator EZ Pulley, which recently sought help designing a new automotive-repair tool – a device that attaches to “anything under the hood that spins,” according to Ambrosio, and listens closely for bad bearings, helping mechanics quickly diagnose problems.
Unique Technical Services’ work on the device – including design, testing and prototyping – led to a top award in the Specialty Equipment Marketing Association’s (SEMA) 2018 New Product category.
Triumphs like that – and long experience leveraging NYSERDA and New York State Department of Energy grants on other transportation-focused projects – are what convinced Ambrosio and his team to launch UES.
“We decided to form a new company focused solely on the transportation industry, focused on manufacturing all-electric trucks and buses,” Ambrosio says. “These are based on products we’ve already developed and tested.”
Like UTS, the UES spinoff boasts an in-house relationship with the Plainview-based Composite Prototyping Center, in addition to its AERTC home base.
Ambrosio complimented both the CPC’s available technologies (“amazing”) and the assistance of Executive Director Lenny Poveromo and his team (“wonderful”), dubbing the Plainview center the “perfect complement” to the AERTC.
“The CPC is more post-commercialization,” Ambrosio says. “The AERTC is kind of the fertile ground, and the CPC is where things really start to grow.”
But neither UTS or UES would have been successful, he adds, without the exceptional early-stage advantages provided by the AERTC, starting with the hard work of its “fantastic leadership.”
“David Hamilton has rolled up his sleeves and jumped in,” Ambrosio says. “Everything we had good to say last year, there’s even more of it now – no stone left unturned as far as helping us find manufacturing programs, financial assistance and even customers.”