IRISS buys company it eyed for years

mjohnson@bradenton.comJanuary 11, 2014 

LAKEWOOD RANCH - IRISS, a Bradenton manufacturer of electrical maintenance safety devices, put on a growth spurt with the new year by purchasing a New Jersey engineering company.

IRISS bought Metuchen, N.J.-based Delta T Engineering on Jan. 1 from parent company East Coast Industries Inc. IRISS now owns Delta T's intellectual property, inventory, and its flagship device, the Delta T Alert Sensor. None of the New Jersey company's employees will be retained by IRISS.

IRISS relocated from the United Kingdom to 10306 Technology Terrace near Lakewood Ranch last April.

The acquisition comes as IRISS is physically growing. The company, which designs and manufactures infrared windows used to monitor electrical systems, announced in December that it will expand the building it occupied last spring.

The company plans to add 15,000 square feet to its existing 33,000, and has promised to add 25 jobs to its 38-employee workforce over the next three years. IRISS also has the first right of refusal on a lot next to its facility if it is needed for additional expansion.

In a press release, company CEO Martin Robinson said the Delta T device will fit into IRISS' "family of EMSDs." The product is

a wireless monitoring system that detects temperature increases inside electrical enclosures caused by poor connections and overloaded circuits.

Robinson declined to comment on the purchase price for Delta T.

The purchase is speeding up IRISS's hiring plans, said Karen Wells, vice president of global business development. The company will hire four to five engineers and product assemblers starting in the second quarter of 2014 to begin local production of the Delta T. Employees will be sourced locally where possible, she said.

Additional personnel will be hired as the company ramps up Delta T production.

The product will be marketed to the power generation industry and customers with high-load, electrical switch gear, such as those in hospitals and large commercial buildings.

Fred Baier, the inventor of the Delta T and former owner of the eponymous company, said IRISS will be able to produce and market the device in a way he could not. His former company has just three employees and sold several hundred units since 2009.

"I'm a small-time businessman," he said. "To make a product like this successful, you need much deeper pockets than I have."

The two companies connected at trade shows over the past few years, culminating in the purchase at the start of the year. Baier will remain a distributor for the product in New York City, while Delta T's former employees will continue to work for East Coast Industries.

Delta T devices have previously sold in the $300 to $450 range, according to Baier. Wells declined to comment on IRISS' planned pricing for the device.

IRISS will be eligible to receive more than $28,000 in state incentives if it completes the construction of its addition and hires 25 more employees at an average annual wage of about $41,000.

Matt M. Johnson, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7027, or on Twitter @MattAtBradenton.

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