U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter stopped in Bedford on Thursday afternoon to help company leaders and employees of Optics 1 and Vectronix celebrate the opening of their new headquarters on Cooper Lane.
Both Optics 1 and its parent company, Vectronix, are well-known names among southern New Hampshire’s advanced tech companies that specialize in equipment for the military. Although they are separate entities, both companies develop and manufacture precision optical equipment for observation, surveillance and targeting.
“Having been in Iraq and Afghanistan, we know how important the mission is, and how important it is making sure our warriors have what they need,” said Shea-Porter, a member of the House Armed Services Committee.
“I appreciate what you’re doing and I marvel at the products you make,” the New Hampshire Democrat told a small crowd of employees gathered under a tent next to the new building.
Vectronix is known for its small, light-weight laser range finder binoculars that also provide night vision and thermal imaging. Among its other products are several types of shooter objective ranging devices, or SORDs, that collects and calculates target data.
Vectronix CEO Dane Hileman said his company had manufactured about 15,000 hand-held optical systems for military forces, but added that those systems were made in Switzerland. Now, with Optics 1, Vectronix hopes to continue providing cutting-edge technology for the armed forces, but with products developed and manufactured in the United States.
The two companies are expected to bring about 130 jobs to Bedford and give the town an economic boost. Among the well wishers were several employees from the nearby restaurant, The Copper Door, who hope to see their new neighbors for lunch and dinner.
Although Vectronix and Optics 1 were celebrating their move to a new and larger building, which has been described as primarily a research and development center, Hileman was already looking ahead.He joked with employees who were standing on the lawn, munching on hor d’oeuvres, that they were on the space where the two companies were hoping to expand.
Shea-Porter said she appreciated the growth the companies brought to the area, and as a former military spouse, she said she was grateful for the technology Optics 1 and Vectronix is developing to support U.S. troops.
“The jobs, which are all good jobs, are critical, the business is critical and the mission is critical,” she said.