Big Flats firm senses big changes
by Jeff Murray, email@example.com | @SGJeffMurray
In 2011, Michael Oshetski put his technical prowess to work and created a startup business in his garage.
Only four years later, Oshetski and the company he founded — Micatu Inc. — are poised to revolutionize sensor technology that he says has remained virtually unchanged for more than 100 years.
In the process, Oshetski expects Micatu to create dozens of high-paying jobs in the Southern Tier.
The concept behind Micatu’s products is simple but game-changing, said Michael Jagielski, the company’s chief operating officer.
“In 1890, they invented the piezoelectric sensor. Things haven’t changed much in electrical capability since the 1890s,” Jagielski said. “Sensors are used in just about everything today. We said what if we could dominate the industry by moving from electrical to optical. We are fundamentally changing the way the world senses with light.”
Sensors that use optics rather than electronics are more accurate and precise, and they are immune to the electromagnetic interference that often plagues electronic sensors, Jagielski said.
Since the sensors more accurately measure things like current and voltage, they can help utility plants better regulate their operations, which will in turn benefit the environment, he said.
The company that started in a garage now occupies a large building in the IST Center at Airport Corporate Park in Big Flats, and it has 13 employees. The firm already owns 42 patents.
The market for Micatu products goes beyond the utility industry. The company also has contracts to provide products and professional services to several federal and state government agencies, including the National Cancer Institute and the Department of Defense.
In addition to research and development for its new products during its startup phase, the firm has already done consulting work for various government agencies and private enterprises. That work, along with a grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, gave Micatu the capital it needed to create a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility as it prepares to bring its optical sensors to market.
More importantly, Micatu has a staff of employees who are as passionate about the work as he is, Oshetski said.
“The people who are here love it. They know I invest in them and it makes us all successful,” said Oshetski, who has a degree in electrical engineering from Rochester Institute of Technology and worked for several high tech firms before striking out on his own.
“I run the company, but it’s not a rigorous corporate structure. Everyone is happy to be here and believes in what we do,” he said. “We focus on what we feel passionate about. We are fundamentally changing an industry. Think of what we can do for power distribution and utilities. We’re doing all this right here in the Southern Tier and New York state.”
In addition to innovation, the other driving force behind Micatu is community service, Oshetski said. The company isn’t just driven by a quest for profits — the more Micatu grows, the more it can benefit the local community.
“I’m not going anywhere. If anything, I’m getting bigger here,” Oshetski said. “Success is great, but that’s a small part of it. It’s what you can do for people, what you can do for your community. It’s exciting stuff.”
One thing Micatu can do for people is employ more of them. As the company rolls out its product lines and secures new industrial and government clients, it will also expand its workforce.
The potential is there for explosive growth, Jagielski said.
“We’re looking to ramp up to 20 to 22 additional positions. We’ll work around the clock with three production teams,” he said. “We should be a $3 million to $5 million business within 12 months. In five years, we could be a $50 million company and probably have 100-plus employees. That’s the kind of potential we have. It’s unbelievable potential.”