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Synergy Automation Aims To Raise $6.5M For Clean Tech Products

By Christina Haley O'Neal, posted Jun 27, 2019
A Leland-based precision manufacturer has started a fundraising campaign in a push to launch a portfolio of products focused on clean energy, water and agriculture.

Synergy Automation, located on Old Fayetteville Road in Leland, has a goal to raise $6.5 million for the first of three products within a new 13-product portfolio, said Kevin Carlson, co-founder and president of Synergy Automation.

“Synergy Automation is a high-tech manufacturer in Southeastern North Carolina, manufacturing purpose-driven products with a veteran-preferred hiring program and a workforce development,” Carlson said.

Synergy Automation was founded in mid-2017 by the company’s CEO, Rich Halvorson, said Carlson. That was after Halvorson acquired a Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machine shop called Ramco Machine and the Leland facility. The amount of the acquisition of the company was not disclosed.

Ramco Machine is a wholly owned subsidiary by Synergy Automation, he said.

Ramco is a precision manufacturing firm that makes components and replacement machinery parts ranging from shafts and baffles to washers and hinges. It serves a variety of big-name customers, including local operations for GE Hitachi, GE Aviation and International Paper.

But the company is now seeking to bring its own line of products to market through the launch of Synergy Automation. Synergy Automation is "similar to the Y Combinator business model, which is a high-tech incubator and accelerator," Carlson said.

Halvorson has been putting together a portfolio over the years and in the spring, the Synergy Automation team started pulling together a go-to-market plan and priority products list, said Carlson, who joined the company earlier this year.

Synergy Thermogen, a natural gas recovery product, is one of the priorities in that line.

The company is also working on marketing two other products in its portfolio; Clean Kiln, a product that recycles used tires, and a waste recovery generator, which recycles agricultural waste such as the manure from hog farms.

The three products are part of its portfolio of 13 products, for which the company has exclusive manufacturing rights, Carlson said. The other products within that portfolio have yet to be released, he added.

Products in this portfolio have previously been tested in the market by other people or companies but were not launched into the market, he said. Synergy Automation has built the product line to relaunch and manufacture. 

“All Synergy products have been out in the marketplace at some point in time, somewhere, previously," Carlson said. "But they never were successfully monetized or leveraged. Confirming the fact, there’s zillions of great ideas out there, but very, very few of them are ever successfully monetized in the marketplace."

Products within the portfolio aim to solve environmental issues and spark innovation through new technologies and high-tech manufacturing with a focus on clean energy, water and agriculture, he said.

“We’re now assembling a team of seasoned executives and raising capital to support our initiative, and to relaunch these products and get it off the ground,” Carlson added.

The timeline to reach the fundraising goal for its first set of products is between four to six months, he said. The amount of capital raised since the process started, however, was not disclosed.

“We’re having success. The interest is high and the response has been excellent," Carlson said. 

In addition to the fundraising campaign and investors search, Synergy Automation has started a push for a manufacturers alliance of high-tech manufacturers to further its products to market.

The alliance is planned to include nine other manufacturers, some of which are local. The names of those local companies were not released.

“An advantage of the alliance partnership is we’ll have a multitude of other facilities, other manufacturers, that can help us manufacture these products to bring them to market. But final fabrication, assembly and distribution will come out of Leland,” Carlson said.

Synergy Automation will also work through its local executive team and workforce, as well as with the alliance, to bring other innovative ideas to market, from prototype to full-scale production, he said.

Synergy Automation has a long-term goal to build a workforce development center at the Leland facility, where transitioning veterans can get the training and skills needed to join its team or enter the manufacturing workforce.

The company aims to work collaboratively with the area’s colleges for this initiative.

“We are very serious about the veteran-preferred workforce development,” Carlson said.

As it grows, the business plans to hire between 50 to 150 people over a three-to-five-year period. The company currently has 11 employees, some of whom are veterans.

Carlson said the company is excited to get its portfolio products to market and “doing something really cool from an economic development standpoint in southeastern North Carolina … and with our workforce development, helping make our company better because we employ veterans.”
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