Friday, July 22, 2011

Phoenix Business Journal, July 22, 2011

Solar company senses success

Federal grant could help Colnatec take its product to market

Premium content from Phoenix Business Journal - by Patrick O'Grady

Date: Friday, July 22, 2011, 3:00am MST - Last Modified: Thursday, July 21, 2011, 4:48pm MST
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  • Colnatec LLC manufacturing tech Sandy McPherson performs a quality control check inthe productionprocess of a solar sensor.
    Jim Poulin | Phoenix Business Journal
    Colnatec LLC manufacturing tech Sandy McPherson performs a quality control check in the production process of a solar sensor.
Colnatec LLC is looking to help develop the most efficient thin-film solar material on the market, even if it has to inch its way there one grant at a time.

The Gilbert-based company has parlayed a U.S. Department of Energy grant it received last year into a second phase, giving Colnatec an additional $450,000 to further develop and begin to market a sensor for thin-film manufacturing.

“We proved it would work, and Phase II is bringing it to product form,” said Scott Grimshaw, the company’s co-founder and chief technology officer.

Wendy Jameson, co-founder and CEO, said the goal is to find the sensor a home in the solar industry.
“It’s about finalizing the development to a commercial product,” she said.

Colnatec has been working on the project since 2009. Grimshaw has a patent on a sensor that can clean itself and work under high temperatures.

In the thin-film solar industry, the cells that eventually form panels are produced in long, ribbonlike strings. During production, many of the sensors that measure the film’s thickness tend to not hold up well under high temperatures and often need to be recalibrated. That leads to shorter runs, with cells at the end of each run being less efficient than those at the start.

Colnatec’s sensor allows for longer, more consistent production runs, creating solar panels that ultimately are more efficient, Grimshaw said.

The recent grant is the continuation of a $100,000 grant Colnatec received in 2010 from the DOE to try to prove its concept. The federal agency gave similar grants to 116 other companies last year, but Colnatec was one of only 22 that were approved for the second phase, Jameson said.

The company has received other accolades, too. Earlier this month it was featured on the White House website, in a section devoted to innovators and those who are changing the economy. That connection was made through the Arizona Small Business Association, Jameson said.

In addition, Colnatec was one of eight companies in the state to receive funds from an Arizona Commerce Authority program designed to reward innovation and technology. It was the only Valley-based company to receive funds, garnering $239,000.

Brian Sherman, business development director for the ACA, said Arizona needs to make a better effort to support companies such as Colnatec from a business development and financial perspective. The innovation grants, funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, were one way to do that.

“They’re a great example of the type of company we want to help in the early stages,” he said.

The ACA grant allowed Colnatec to hire a few people. The company’s current staff numbers nine, with two open positions. Jameson said the new DOE grant will help the company double its employment within a year as it moves toward a finished product.

The product may find a home outside the U.S. first. Jameson and Grimshaw have been traveling far and wide, from South Korea and China to Germany and the Netherlands, to find partners interested in testing the device.

Several Dutch and German companies have expressed interest, and they are willing to open up their manufacturing technologies to see how the sensor will fit into their production lines, Jameson said.
Developing global markets is a tough step for a startup, but something technology companies should look at during their initial growth stages, Sherman said.

“These guys are really smart and really aggressive and spending that precious money right now on a global strategy,” he said.

From the solar industry, Grimshaw said they can move into other high-temperature settings, including display manufacturing.

“It’s a question of us being able to meet the demand fast enough,” he said.
Connect with Patrick O’Grady at or on Twitter at @pogrady.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

HIRING: Tech Support Engineer

Startup high-tech manufacturing company seeking high-tech support engineer to support sales and manufacturing departments. Our IDEAL CANDIDATE will have background in vacuum technology, optical coating and/or semiconductor processing. See also our ad on Craigslist.

We're a young, rapidly growing manufacturing company with strong international connections, and we need someone FAST to talk to customers and prospects on any questions they have regarding our products. We produce highly sensitive sensors used in vacuum manufacturing of displays, optical components and solar cells, and we ship them all over the world. We're a multi-award winning company with big plans and big needs. We need someone with a small business background who can learn our niche technology quickly and provide technical support to our manufacturing team while helping our sales team with technical questions. We seek someone capable of leading and growing with us. We value diversity.

Job Description:
Support mechanical aspects of product development, including drafting
Interface with machine shops and other vendors
Support inside sales by writing product specs and answering prospect technical questions
Deal directly with customers on product and process issues
Troubleshoot manufacturing issues
Supervise small number of people
May require some assembly

Minimum Requirements:
2-year technical degree (e.g. Industrial Engineering, MET)
2 years experience in AutoCAD
2+ years product development and/or production experience
Excellent technical and business writing skills
Personable with strong communication and people skills
Comfortable with MS Office and standard internet applications
Background in vacuum technology, optical coating and/or semiconductor processing
Must be able to pass background check
Must be healthy and non-smoking

Please send email with cover letter and body of resume embedded within to DO NOT SEND ATTACHMENTS. We do not open them.

  • Location: Gilbert
  • Compensation: Starting at $30,000 to $34,000 DOE with growth potential. Vacation benefits only
  • Principals only. Recruiters, please don't contact this job poster.
  • Please, no phone calls about this job!
  • Please do not contact job poster about other services, products or commercial interests.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Hiring Again! Manufacturing Office Manager


Our office manager is moving to Texas, so we need someone who can fill her shoes fast!

MRP/ERP experience
Must have very strong bookkeeping skills
Must have kept books in manufacturing environment
Bachelor's degree preferred with 2+ years experience in A/R and A/P
Must be able to work independently (owners travel a fair amount)
Must pass background check

A/R and A/P management (invoicing and collections)
Sales order management
Raw material and packaging purchasing and management
Heavy interface with production department to manage logistics
Human resources
File Monthly State Tax Reports
Answering phones (low volume)
Packaging and shipping products to international locations
Receiving and stocking small parts
Manage filing and storage systems
Reconcile bank and credit card accounts
Manage mail and order supplies
Take deposits to banks and sometimes take packages to nearby shipping office

An entrepreneurial attitude essential, and we like perky :) This is a fun, exciting place to work where new science is being created every day. Our customers come from every corner of the earth, and we're expanding rapidly. Get in now, and grow with us!

Please no recruiters, no phone calls. Embed your resume and cover letter in the body of the email. DO NOT SEND ATTACHMENTS.
  • Location: Gilbert
  • Compensation: Pay is $30-35k DOE. Vacation benefits only.
  • Principals only. No Recruiters, please
  • Please, no phone calls about this job!