Tech company commits to growing in Waukesha County
EmbedTek building larger facility, plans 100 new jobs in upcoming years

By Katherine Michalets - Freeman Staff

June 11, 2015

 Workers assemble electronic devices at EmbedTek on Wednesday. 
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

HARTLAND - No one would mistake Waukesha County for southern California because of both the drastic weather differences and the number of technology companies, but EmbedTek is finding many positives about growing in Waukesha County, including the loyalty of its workers and its access to larger metropolitan areas.

CEO and owner Dan Aicher said there are some disadvantages to operating a technology company in Wisconsin, such as the cost of living and the taxes, but the employees have strong skill sets, are loyal and don’t hop from job to job as often as they do in bigger tech hubs like California or Houston, Texas.

EmbedTek has also developed a strong working relationship with area schools, including Marquette University, Milwaukee Area Technical College and Milwaukee School of Engineering, by offering an internship program. In addition, EmbedTek has offered opportunities to technology-savvy high school students, including a senior from Arrowhead. 

By forming this structure, Aicher said, EmbedTeck has a five-year pipeline for talent. Also, he said the company has attracted talented employees as well by their existing workers referring other qualified people.


Moving on up

Started in 2002 by Kent Tabor, who remains an owner and chief technology officer, EmbedTek has grown significantly during the past 12 years.

EmbedTek designs and manufactures embedded computers and integrated display solutions for original equipment manufacturers. Its products are found in devices ranging from fitness equipment and medical devices to surveillance systems and training simulators.

 EmbedTek CED Dan Aicher discusses his company's ability to assemble touch screen devices in a clean room. 
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

According to the company, it works with OEMs that use computers, displays and other electronics, but do not typically design and integrate their electronic systems.

The company currently occupies a 20,000-square-feet space in an industrial office building in Hartland. As the company grew, it gobbled up neighboring units to create one larger space, although Aicher pointed out that means there are walls in odd places and the company has to store supplies off site.

By the end of August, EmbedTek will move into a 100,000-square-foot building it is constructing on Highway JJ, east of Pewaukee Road. Initially, the company will occupy 50,000 square feet, but Aicher anticipates EmbedTek will occupy the remainder in the next two to three years.

In the new building, Aicher said, there will be more creature comforts, such as a kitchen and cafeteria with booths where people can work together. He said employees tend to stand and discuss issues. By having a large kitchen area, people can relax for lunch or meet to work on a project.

“We find the informal meeting to be much more the way people work,” he said.

 EmbedTek will be moving from Hartland to this new facility being constructed on Highway JJ/Bluemound Road in Waukesha. 
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

Strong bonds

There of the four members of the ownership team, Aicher, Tom Fotsch, chief operating officer, and Ted Platz, vice president of sales, worked together for many years at another successful Waukesha County business, Dedicated Computing. They helped it to grow from $1 million to $120 million in revenue and from 15 employees to more than 200 across eight years, Aicher said.

In addition to founding EmbedTek, Tabor started Granite Microsystems in 1985.

Together, the management team has formed a clear vision on how it wants ElmbedTek to be run and to grow, Aicher said. Having that united vision creates a “tough advantage for people to beat,” Aicher said, referring to other companies in the area tapping into the same market.

Aicher said he considers 2010 to be a “restart” year for EmbedTek because that’s when the four men became equal owners of the company. Since then both the number of personnel and amount of revenue for the company have grown significantly.

According to data provided by Aicher, in 2010, EmbedTek’s revenue was $920,000 and grew to $13,089,000 in 2013 and $23,400,000 in 2014. Revenue increased by 350 percent from 2010 to 2011; 185 percent from 2011 to 2012; 35 percent from 2012 to 2013; and 78 percent from 2013 to 2014.

At the same time, the personnel employed by EmbedTek went from 16 in 2010 to 75 in 2014 and about 80 employees currently. That amounts to a personnel growth rate of 125 percent from 2010 to 2011; 30 percent from 2011 to 2012; 91 percent from 2012 to 2013; and 34 percent from 2013 to 2014. Aicher said he anticipates creating about 100 new positions in the next four to five years.

Much of EmbedTek’s growth has not come from their clients growing, Aicher said, but by attracting more clients.

“How you treat people, how you treat customers is a huge advantage,” Aicher said.

Going forward, EmbedTek will look to expand its types of capabilities and may begin to assemble entire products for clients.

EmbedTek does have an inventive side that has developed a pharmaceutical automation program, along with other innovations.

Today, EmbedTek will be recognized at a luncheon by the Waukesha County Business Alliance as one of the top 10 Businesses of the Year.

EmbedTek honored for PC used in military training systems

HARTLAND —The Wisconsin Society of Professional Engineers recently recognized EmbedTek with a Governor’s New Product Award for the Sabot 0525, an embedded PC which is used in military training systems.

EmbedTek Founder and Chief Technology Officer Kent Tabor received the award from Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch at the WSPE Banquet in Green Bay on May 27. EmbedTek was cited for innovative use of engineering principles, improved function and savings, according to the announcement.

The Sabot 0525 records and plays back five channels of video and audio for after-action review. It was developed for the military simulation market and supports real-time monitoring of multiple, simultaneous audio and high-definition video streams via a network API.

The WSPE is Wisconsin’s organization for professional engineers in several categories, including electrical engineers, mechanical engineers and civil engineers.