Atometric Inc. sees a multimillion-dollar market in machining parts smaller than a human hair for biomedical and genetic research companies. But to have a chance to manufacture, market, and sell its machines to companies such as Medtronic, Johnson & Johnson and Boston Scientific, the company that was launched out of a basement and has survived on grants needed to find a major investor.
Atometric Inc. sees a multimillion-dollar market in machining parts smaller than a human hair for biomedical and genetic research companies.
But to have a chance to manufacture, market, and sell its machines to companies such as Medtronic, Johnson & Johnson and Boston Scientific, the company that was launched out of a basement and has survived on grants needed to find a major investor.
On Wednesday, Atometric, which now is based at Rockford’s EIGERlab, found its backer in the Stateline Angels, a group of Rockford-area businessmen who organized in 2004 to find Rock River Valley startups they could provide with expertise and, more importantly, money.
The cash infusion means Atometric, which was started in 2003 by Thomas Lindem, a retired Ingersoll manager, and another partner who since has been bought out, has been able to go to several trade shows in the fall to show off the G4-Ultra. The machine can cut a slot in a wire four-thousandths of an inch thick to exact specifications or make devices so precise they can pull blood clots out of the brain after a stroke.
The company now has more than a dozen quotations for machines, and just a few sales would help the bottom line considering they sell for $80,000 to $150,000 each.
Lindem’s son, company president Thomas N. Lindem, said “going slow has helped us.”
“We made a conscious decision not to market until we had a mature product,” Lindem said. “This is the fourth generation of what my dad first built. Last summer, we used our own money to build the third generation and get a couple of sales. But we were to the point where to really move forward we needed more capital.”
Lindem believes they can grow the company to a 50-plus employee, more than $5 million a year company within “the next several years.”
Since forming, the Stateline Angels have invested in six companies, but Atometric is the first from Boone, Winnebago and Ogle counties.
Angel investors are affluent individuals who give money in exchange for a stake in the company. In the case of Atometric, as part of the deal, Dale Falconer, president of the Stateline Angels as well as chairman of Seward Screw, and Richard Nordlof, president of MTE Hydraulics, are now on Atometric’s board of directors.
Falconer said Atometric’s growth potential, in terms of revenues, isn’t as great as its other investments so far, but “it’s still going to be a win-win-win situation.”
“It has a chance to be a very fair return, but it also will foster some business growth here in town and add employment, and that’s something we’re looking to do as well,” Falconer said.
Wednesday’s announcement also was important in that Atometric is the first “graduate” of the EIGERlab. It was originally dreamed up as a business incubator for companies in micro-machining, but has since evolved into more of a small business development center home to such groups as SCORE, Rock Valley College’s Small Business Development Center and the U.S. Export Assistance Center.
“The EIGERlab does have the little incubator here,” Falconer said. “But now the entrepreneur can go down to SCORE, they can go to Rockford Area Ventures. If they can’t get the answer at EIGERlab, they can get guidance where to go.”
Alex Gary can be reached at (815) 987-1339 or email@example.com.