Keene New Hampshire Local Industry

ABtech: 20 Years of Independent Production

By Hunter Sanborn

ABtech is a high tech manufacturing firm based in Fitzwiliam NH. “Pride in Precision” is the mantra Ken Abbot (Owner) and his team adhere too at ABtech. They create hyper precise air-bearing and aerostatic machines for a variety of purposes, most of which is developed in house to accommodate customer requirements. In other words, they’re a precision metrology firm; they create systems that other firms use to measure parts and components.

ABtech’s headquarters in Fitzwilliam. They’ve been in the business for about 22 years and moved from Swanzey to Fitzwilliam in 2018.

Quality Over Quantity & Hardship

Ken Abbot is the current owner of ABtech and has a background in mechanical engineering. Employing around 22 people, ABtech is really a tight knit community. Ken often comes on the floor to assist with work himself. As he says, “I like the hands on work.” Which is one of the reasons Ken keeps the company so small. Based on what I experienced over at ABtech, I can say that Ken Abbot is a man who truly cares about his employees and the work that’s done at ABtech.

Many of Abtech’s workers are people with many years of experience. Whether that experience is accumulated at ABtech or at other firms, all of them are extremely good with their hands, as the machinery requires a delicate and precise touch in many instances. I thought of them as sort of artisans of metal and machine parts. One of the current projects Ken and his team are working on is a film that would be used to replace solid lenses. Something that requires extreme precision.

I think it’s also worth mentioning that ABtech sources many of it’s material from “local” sources (New Hampshire and wider New England area) and emphasizes face to face conversations with those they have business dealings with. One of the many things that Ken gets locally is the Granite bases to many of the Air bearing machines as well as many of their other products. Granite makes an amazing stable platform for these machines. Luckily for ABtech, they’ve decided to set up shop in the Granite state!

In a fairly recent layoff Ken had this to say about the people he had to let go (paraphrasing a bit), “It was really painful. I want to provide stability for my employees, but with the recent decline of Boeing there was really no other choice.” Boeing has been one of ABtech’s most consistent customers for years. One of ABtechs machines made for boeing 777X was the EAS3000-2T, which was developed alongside GE for the 777X. However, despite this long standing relationship with Boeing, the recent problems with many of their planes has resulted in a lack of orders from the company. This decline in sales is ultimately what resulted in the layoff at ABtech. Though it’s important to mention that they were well compensated in their severances and Ken says he would love to have them back on as soon as he can.

On a brighter note, ABtech is still thriving and as innovative as ever. Mr. Abbot has a son who is very interested in continuing the family business and is currently working in the shop to gain some experience. ABtech will be here for a long time to come and will continue to innovate and provide quality in an industry that is saturated with many big names that will never be able to match the same kind of service and quality seen at this small, but independent firm, in Fitzwilliam NH.

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