Maine Success Stories - Fluid Imaging Technologies
In this installment of “Maine Success Stories” the Umaine Business Challenge reached out to Kent Peterson, President and CEO of Fluid Imaging Technologies (FIT), manufacturer of the FlowCAM® imaging particle analysis system.
Many entrepreneurs have an idea for a technology but are intimidated by the thought of protecting and producing it. Here is an example of a local company that has met the challenge and brought their technology to the global market! Perhaps what we find most impressive about this Yarmouth, Maine based company, is their continued efforts to promote research and their generosity in giving back to the community.
Above all else, use Kent Peterson and FIT as an example. With the right product and work ethic, it can be done in Maine so, says Peterson who echoes Winston Churchill’s war time quote, “Never, never, never give up!”
UBC: Kent, in a nutshell, what is your role at Fluid Imaging, and what is Fluid Imaging all about?
KP: I am President & CEO of Fluid Imaging Technologies, Inc.. FIT is a pioneer in digital imaging particle analysis, bringing its instrumentation into diverse aquatic and industrial application markets, globally.
UBC: Fluid Imaging was founded in 1999 in West Boothbay Harbor, ME, and recently moved to Yarmouth, ME. You even have the famed Portland Head Lighthouse on your homepage. Why Maine? What are some of the benefits of working in Maine?
KP: The company was founded in Maine, but it can stay in Maine, as we provide a high value, low labor content instrument, and we sell mostly internationally. For all intents and purposes, Maine is the hub of our global marketplace.
UBC: The UBC is currently designed to give financial and networking support for UMaine Student’s and their business ideas. Do you have any advice for young entrepreneurs?
KP: Collaborate with potential customers early on. Tap into their experience, product needs, and perhaps, financial resources, to determine if there is a valid market. Once satisfied that a market exists, pursue with all the drive and ambition one can muster.
UBC: Fluid Imaging got their start in research and still continues to give back to the research community (See FlowCAM® Student Equipment and Travel Grant). The UBC commends you for giving back to student research. Why is this important to Fluid Imaging?
KP: This type of activity not only serves to give back to the “community” (PR aside), but also keeps our focus on what is needed from a product development standpoint, and what will be useful for the future practitioners in this space. We were just informed that the National Science Foundation (NSF) is so impressed with this focus on facilitating the development of new professionals in the marine science field, that the NSF will use this as a model to approach other technology providers to follow suit.
UBC: It’s no secret that it’s difficult to be a manufacturer in Maine (never mind manufacturing highly technologically advanced products like the FlowCAM) but Fluid Imaging has seen success. What did it mean being named the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) small business Exporter of the Year in 2008, and subsequently Exporter of the Year 2010 by the Maine International Trade Center?
KP: Those awards were well earned by the entire team at FIT. International business and exporting in general provides a higher level of challenges than most small organizations are comfortable with. I submit the extra effort is well worth the time and resources required from an overall served market size standpoint, as well as for business diversification strategy.
For more information on Fluid Imaging Technologies, please visit their website.