Ergotech, a Commerce Park firm founded in Danbury in 1992, has won a $2.1 million contract with the U.S. Army to provide sixty "positioners," to help mechanics repair returning helicopter parts safely.
The positioners, said company Founder Earl Hagman, can pick up and move a transmission or gearbox to make it easier to reach. Those parts can weigh up to 1,650 pounds, and it is safer to work on them at the right angle and height, which the positioner makes possible. Otherwise mechanics are climbing around, reaching over or under, putting them in awkward positions.
Hagman said working on the helicopter parts when they are properly positioned can help a worker's back, can help the workers avoid carpal tunnel syndrome and help avoid tendonitis. The U.S. Army in Corpus Christi, Texas, agrees and is buying 60 positioners worth $2.1 million over the next six months.
"It's healthier for the workers," said Hagman, who founded the company in his garage in 1992. He said the company took space in Commerce Park in 2000, and it doubled its space earlier this year. He said it is on track to double its size again in 18 months.
Ergotech employs 15 people, Hagman said, and it is looking to hire more engineers, more technicians and more assembers. The company will participate in the state Department of Labor jobs fair scheduled for September at the Ethan Allen Inn.
Stephen Bull, president of the remembers Ergotech from the early 1990s, when Hagman attended the chamber's annual entrepreneurial workshops.
"I've been trying to set him up with workers," Bull said. "He's in a technical field. It's not a surprise he's growing this firm in Danbury. This is one of the best cradles for entrepreneurs and innovation."
Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton said Danbury has a history of supporting and growing defense industries dating back to the Revolutionary War. That cluster of businesses continued into the Cold War when the U2 spy cameras were made in Danbury and when the Hex spy satellite was made in Danbury.