LC Drives was formed in 2012 and moved into the North Country Incubator in 2014. The company has received two National Science Foundation (NSF) grants, a grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and three NYSERDA grants. This early funding enabled it to develop its technology and file ten patent applications.
In May 2019, LC Drives received a $15 million Series A investment from Koch Engineered Solutions. Back then, the North Country company had 16 employees. Today, it has 54 employees and continues to grow rapidly. Devon Sutton, Director of Strategic Operations, expects that LC Drives will reach 300 employees and $100 million in sales within five years. The company hopes to move out of the incubator and into its own nearby space, thus becoming one of the first incubator tenants to make such a leap.
Sutton attributes much of LC Drives’ success to its relationship with “great industry partners” like the Shipley Center and FuzeHub. Jamey Hoose, Director of the Shipley Center, said that LC Drives itself has been a great partner. In addition to helping equip and expand the incubator, LC Drives played a role in Potsdam’s receipt of a $10 million downtown revitalization grant from New York State. LC Drives is also helping the region by providing internships and well-paying jobs for local university students and graduates.
LC Drives required compressed air to automate and modernize its production processes and build the full-scale manufacturing line necessary for third-party testing and meeting commercial orders. The company also needed a powder coating booth to improve the quality and durability of its motors, thus enabling LC Drives to attract larger customers in target markets.
As Sutton explained, a paint job from a regular paint booth isn’t sufficient for products that must withstand harsh environments. LC Drives’ motors operate in the engine rooms of large ships, in wind turbines, in buses, and in other places where they must withstand heavy vibration, heat, and other forces that would create nicks, scratches, and eventually rust and corrosion with regular paint.
With access to a powder coating booth, LC Drives could improve the reliability of its motors and scale its business more rapidly. Other incubator tenants with products, such as wind turbines and environmental remediation systems, that must withstand harsh environments could also benefit by having access to a powder coating booth.