Fluitec International, an Antwerp, Belgium-based clean-energy startup with a majority of its sales outside the U.S., recently relocated its U.S. operations to Jersey City from Tampa, Florida. The company is taking advantage of a New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) Business Employment Incentive Program (BEIP) grant. The grant is worth an estimated $927,600 over 10 years and is tied to the creation of 30 new, high-paying jobs within the next two years. Fluitec expects to invest approximately $5.6 million to establish its N.J. location.
According to Fluitec director of business development Amar Pradhan, the company is now hiring at its N.J. location and has nine full-time employees here so far. “Currently we have 25 people globally. We plan to centralize everything except for our regional sales people here in Jersey City. We just received some venture capital money and with that are planning on doing a bunch of cool things here in N.J. We want to centralize all of our R & D, engineering and sales in Jersey City. We are planning on growing from the nine employees we have today to 80 or so within five years,” Pradhan told NJTechWeekly.com.
The way the N.J. EDA provides incentives is “smart,” Pradhan said, since they are not financed by any out-of-pocket money from the taxpayer. Once the company grows to 30 people, some portion of the taxes additional employees pay would be refunded to the company. “It’s almost like profit sharing,” Pradhan explained. “If we don’t build the jobs here, they don’t pay us any money.”
The EDA was easy to work with, he added. It was a very straightforward process. “We contacted them, went to meetings and created an application that went through many, many rounds during three months, answering questions about our company’s economic structure,” he said, calling it a process analogous to getting a loan from a bank.
Prior to deciding on N.J. for its headquarters, Fluitec looked for incentives from Florida and researched what was available in Europe and Singapore. However, CEO Frank Magnotti’s N.J. roots made the process, and the decision to relocate here, easy. Magnotti is the former CEO of Comverge (now in Norcross, Georgia), a provider of clean-energy solutions that improve grid reliability. Pradhan says that Magnotti is a “known entity in N.J.” since he created 400 jobs here previously.
Pradhan would not elaborate on the venture funding the company just received, but said news about that would be coming in about a week. “Suffice it to say, we are well-funded at this point. Funding is not the roadblock. Now we have to take the idea and the business and run with it.”
Fluitec develops and sells products that increase turbine efficiency and reduce operations and maintenance costs through increased reliability and availability. The products focus on real-time analysis, condition monitoring and contamination control. Interestingly, the company’s roots are based on the technology used to measure antioxidant levels in helicopter turbines, developed by the U.S. Air Force to help the aircraft stay aloft longer during the first Gulf War.
The technology has since been optimized, adapted and augmented to create products that monitor fluid degradation and remove degraded substances. In addition to improving turbine life, reliability and availability, Fluitec’s products also increase the life of machine oils by up to 400 percent. According to the company, the business has averaged annual growth rates of 80 percent over the past three years and expects this trend to continue. Pradhan said he anticipates that Fluitec will grow because it doesn’t depend on creating new infrastructure, as do the solar and wind industries, but rather relies on making the current one run more efficiently.
The company chose its Jersey City location because “it’s really a great place to be in the tri-state area. Transportation is great, with the train, PATH and light rail service, bridges and tunnels. We can attract people from the five boroughs and all over Jersey, so you get a mixture of talent. It is very close to the international airport and just a great place to recruit talented, smart people who want to do something interesting.” Jersey City is also home to a “globally minded” workforce, Pradhan said. Fluitec relocated from Florida because it wasn’t the right place to hire the right people. “We were in St. Petersburg, which is a gorgeous area,” but it’s mostly tourists and retirees, so “it’s hard to hire people with engineering talent there.”
The company is temporarily located in the Harborside Financial Center in Jersey City and is looking for permanent headquarters near the PATH station there.