A few years ago, a Maryland technology association honored Eric A. Adolphe as its Entrepreneur of the Year. That won't happen again.
Adolphe recently moved the company he founded and owns, Optimus Corp., and its more than 200 employees from the Maryland suburbs to Northern Virginia. For a contractor providing information technology, software and hardware to government agencies involved in public safety, he said, that's where the action is.
"Our move is purely a strategic one where we're getting closer to our customers and our partners as well," said the 39-year-old chief executive, who relocated his company's headquarters from Silver Spring to Tysons Corner in McLean. "Our partners and customers would have to cross the American Legion Bridge. Before you know it, it was a half-day [round trip] to have a half-hour to an hour meeting."
For all the talk of regional cooperation in the Washington area, the office of Virginia Gov. Mark R. Warner (D) and Fairfax County's economic development agency put out an announcement boasting of their success in luring Optimus from Montgomery County. Virginia's Workforce Services Program promised the company recruiting and training funds as part of the deal.
Adolphe, who is both an electronics engineer and an attorney, started his company in 1992. Its first project was part of NASA's response to the Challenger space shuttle disaster. Adolphe said Optimus developed an early handheld computer used by safety inspectors in the shuttle program. Today, about 92 percent of the company's work is for the federal government, some of it won through its status as a minority-owned business. Optimus also has contracts for public safety work with local government agencies, including some in the District and Arlington County.
Although much of the work involves systems integration, Adolphe said, "We actually create our own technology as well."
For example, he said, Optimus engineers are now trying to invent a "pedestrian alert system" that would trigger a warning signal in cars that are at danger of hitting a walker who's wearing a wristwatch or cell phone equipped with the signal system. The alert device could be used by pedestrians most in danger of being hit by a car, Adolphe said -- children, the elderly with Alzheimer's and even law enforcement officers making traffic stops.
of Optimus Corp.