Military Grade

Company manufactures electromechanical products to the military

Many of you probably just received the March Innovations issue of EA. The following story is an ideal supplement to it. Some might consider it the upper echelon of electromechanical manufacturing. “Military-grade”. It is also yet another example of how companies in our industry can see exponential growth through the years.

Kimchuk, Inc., the Danbury, Connecticut-based contract manufacturing company, has expanded over its 50-plus year history to go from being a small machine shop to one of the lynchpin providers of engineering design and packaging services to the U.S. military. The products it provides now include certain innovative, tech-savvy goods that help keep our soldiers safe abroad: things like seismic activity detectors, incoming fire alert systems, and non-nuclear Navy modules.

Incorporated in 1964, the business originally started as a machine shop formed by two owners, specializing in precision tools. Expansion began as early as 1968 and flourished in the 70s, when the company ventured into product design development and contract manufacturing under the guidance of current President James Marquis. He began establishing the electronic division of the company as the precision machine shop continued to operate on its own, transitioning towards the mechanical fabrication sector and expanding its facilities to better suit the business of the supplementary electronic division. As the turn of the century approached, the company anticipated a need for technological advancements and invested heavily in surface mount technology and automatic testing, including a full-time programming group to improve the efficiencies of its manufacturing processes. At this point, Kimchuk was primarily a supplier of semiconductor equipment, power generation, capital equipment, and telecom equipment.

James Marquis, President of Kimchuk, Inc. Photo credit - the News-Times of Danbury, CT.

James Marquis, President of Kimchuk, Inc. Photo credit – the News-Times of Danbury, CT.

These areas suffered a marked decline following the 9/11 attacks that prompted the company to “re-invent itself” according to Marquis in a 2014 interview with The News-Times of Danbury. In it he described how the company’s sales dropped by 50 percent and incentivized a shift to the areas of nuclear power and controls, military, medical, and safety and security. They minimized the semiconductor, capital, and telecom equipment divisions, and the transformation led to a rise in sales over the next two years. The mechanical fabrication division has since been sold (in 2004), and the company has weathered the difficulties of economic instability, erosion on the manufacturing industries, and scarcity of engineering recruits to become what it is today – a Tier 2 supplier in the manufacturing chain with a primary pipeline to our nation’s military.

PCB (Printed Circuit Board) sets are a keystone of the company’s production. These are used for nuclear and non-nuclear modules for the Navy, a tunnel detection system that detects digging and other seismic activities, and upgraded commercial products for military field use. Jim Camillo of Assembly Magazine reported on some of these products in detail just last week.

In 2009, Kimchuk was recognized by the Connecticut Quality Improvement Award Partnership for work done on the Boomerang Sniper Detection System (BSDS), which alerts soldiers to hostile incoming fire within one second, locates the shooting source, and identifies its direction, distance, to be conveyed directly to an operator. Amazing stuff, right? View the video above to see what a similar Boomerang device used by the British military in Afghanistan looks like, and how it operates.

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