DornerWorks celebrates expansion project

October 20, 2008
| By Pete Daly |
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Grand Rapids-based DornerWorks Ltd. recently moved to a new location on Lake Eastbrook Boulevard, with more than twice the space of its previous facility.

Since the consulting firm was founded as a single-person operation in 2000, DornerWorks has grown to more than 50 employees with more than 30 clients and annual sales approaching $10 million. The company recently held an open house at the new 11,000-square-foot facility, attended by dignitaries including Congressman Vernon Ehlers.

"We are one of the lucky few, I guess. We are growing quite a bit," said Tim Walker, vice president of sales and marketing.

"We're now about 55 people, which puts us in the top 20 percent," said Walker, referring to a study that listed embedded electronics engineering firms in the U.S. according to size.

DornerWorks was founded by its president, David Dorner, to provide electronic engineering services, specializing in safety critical markets such as aerospace, medical and automotive. Services include electronic system architecture, electronic hardware development, embedded software development and custom logic design.

Aerospace is the company’s fastest growing market right now, according to Walker, with the medical device industry its second largest market. DornerWorks is a member of the West Michigan Medical Device Consortium.

"We do a lot of work with Stryker Medical," said Walker.

An example of embedded electronics in medical devices is a device that controls chronic pain with a specific radio wave frequency in patterns and timings that can excite or disable a nerve, according to Walker.

In the aerospace field, DornerWorks has been working with GE Aviation on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. While DornerWorks has generally been more of a regional firm than national, that may be about to change, according to Walker.

GE Aviation Systems in the Grand Rapids area, formerly Smiths Aerospace, announced the elimination of about 95 jobs locally in June. Walker said that event "gave us an opportunity … to gain a bunch of their design engineers." It involved about 20 individuals.

"Now we have topnotch people from one of the leading aviation firms in the country … which now gives us national play," said Walker.

He said the DornerWorks goal in 2009 is to extend itself more on a national level, to reach additional aerospace companies and then “bring that electronic engineering work back here to be done by our design team."

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