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AVANTech opens new manufacturing center in southeast Columbia

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AVANTech recently celebrated the opening of its new 120,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in southeast Columbia. (Photo/Provided)

By Chuck Crumbo
ccrumbo@scbiznews.com
Published May 5, 2015

AVANTech, an industrial water treatment solutions provider, has opened its new 120,000-square-foot manufacturing facility and corporate headquarters in Columbia.

The company’s headquarters are south of I-77 at 2050 American Italian Way. It previously was located in a 35,000-square-foot manufacturing facility at an industrial park near Monticello Road and Interstate 20.

Founded in 1999, AVANTech’s engineering and process systems are designed to improve operations in industrial, commercial, power, and nuclear power applications.

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Jim Braun, left, and Tracy Barker are founders of Columbia-based AVANTech. (Photo/Staff)
The company developed and manufactured a unique patent pending water treatment system instrumental in cleanup and recovery efforts at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear station, damaged in the 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami.

“This facility triples our engineering and manufacturing capabilities. We’re proud not just of the work we do around the world, but also of the positive economic impact we are providing to South Carolina,” said Jim Braun, who co-founded AVANTech with Tracy Barker.

Braun serves as president and CEO; Barker is vice president and principal engineer.

The new facility is part of $3.7 million capital investment the privately held company has made in Columbia since 2013.

During that time, AVANTECH has expanded from fewer than 50 employees to almost 160.

The company’s average hourly wage is over the norm due to its highly skilled craft and utilization of high-tech manufacturing methods. AVANTech revenues grew by 400% last year, and the company expects 200% growth in 2015.

AVANTech’s response to the Fukushima accident drew considerable coverage in both the mainstream and trade press.

While a total meltdown at Fukushima was avoided, another potential environmental disaster was in the offing.

For Braun and Barker, the challenge was to design, test, build and deliver a unit to remove radioisotopes from the wastewater.

They had six weeks to get it done.

For the Fukushima task, Avantech, under contract with Toshiba Corp., joined Shaw Global Services and a Honeywell International subsidiary called UOP to come up with a system to treat the radioactive water that was effective and simple to operate.

The AVANTech team worked without a day off, straight through the Memorial Day weekend, and into June.

On the Fourth of July, when relatives, friends and neighbors were enjoying backyard barbecues and fireworks, AVANTech workers put the finishing touches on the system, and delivered it to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

There, the system was loaded on a Boeing 747 freighter and flown to Japan.

In addition to its groundbreaking recovery work for the Fukushima accident, AVANTech has also participated in supporting the cleanup of the U.S. Department of Energy locations, including Savannah River Site in Aiken County.

The company has provided products and services to more than 150 nuclear facilities in 14 countries. Worldwide, the company recycles more than 50 million gallons of wastewater and 800 million gallons of nuclear wastewater.

Also, AVANTech recently reached an agreement with Diversified Technologies Services Inc., of Knoxville, Tenn., to integrate their capabilities and offer specialized

radioactive, hazardous and non-hazardous liquid treatment, products and services worldwide.

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

“This transaction between industry leaders doubles AVANTech’s capacity and provides us with key operations personnel and products needed to provide full services to the utility radioactive waste market,” Braun said. “This rounds out our complete

offering.”

AVANTech brings its engineering, design and manufacturing capabilities which will be fully integrated with DTS’s field services, system leasing and products to provide coordinated solutions to the nuclear and power industry.

Together the two companies have provided products and services to over 150 nuclear facilities in 14 different countries.

“AVANTech is making a difference for a cleaner environment and more efficient industries around the world, from right here in Columbia,” Braun said. “We have a proven record of success and an exciting future.”

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