GROTON — ThayerMahan told town council members on Tuesday that the company would move forward with redeveloping the Groton Heights School into the company’s headquarters. The project had been slowed for more than a year by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Richard Hine, co-founder and chief operating officer of ThayerMahan, told the Town Council Committee of the Whole that the company is rapidly outgrowing its 14,000-square foot space at 120 Leonard Drive in Groton.
“We’re a company that started in 2016 with two employees, my co-founder, Mike Connor and myself. Over the last five years, we’ve grown to 70 employees,” he said. “Our intent is to hire. Our current projections show us that about 180 employees by the end of next year.”
Hine and Connor, a thirty-five year Navy veteran and former Commander of Submarine Forces, started the company in a spare bedroom in Mystic, creating undersea solar-powered sensors and monitoring systems that gather, analyze and transmit data.
Hine said the company intends to use the building as corporate headquarters and a research and development center. The company signed a letter of intent to purchase and redevelop the Groton Heights School, located at 244 Monument Street, on July 12, 2019. The town chose ThayerMahan as the preferred developer for the building in March 2019.
The main school building was constructed in 1912 and the gymnasium was added in 1962, creating a total of 27,185 square feet of space. The building was used as a school until the summer of 2007.
After four years of “pretty remarkable growth,” Hine said the company took a “bit of a step back” starting in March last year when COVID hit.
“We managed to survive that without laying off any employees. We took advantage of the two PPP loan programs, which were welcome relief. We were on kind of this hockey stick trajectory but last year’s sales were flat … but we’re kind of back on track,” he said.
The company now has 14 patents and has acquired two companies in the last eight months, Hine said.
“So our facilities need to continue to grow. We appreciate the town’s patience in letting us ride out the storm, so to speak. We didn’t lose any work, but a lot of it was delayed because our customers weren’t working when the government shut down and no one could travel, which put a significant damper on our ability to go to sea,” he said.
He said the company spent much of the last year and a half “investing our own money in internal research and development. He said the company now has its own unmanned surface vehicle platform, a “significant” AI presence and has made inroads in acoustic data modeling and labeling for the Navy and for some other customers.
“We’ve been invited to join the World Economic Forum, which is a pretty prestigious group. So we’re on the upswing, and things are back on track. So we’ve re-initiated contract discussions with the town.”
Hine said the company works with offshore wind developers, including Ørsted.
“For that industry, we do precision seabed survey work, cable inspections, undersea infrastructure inspections. And we do acoustic monitoring and mitigation which includes monitoring for the nearly extinct North Atlantic Right Whale during construction ops to protect the whale from harmful acoustic emanations from the construction activity.”
At the Tuesday meeting, Paige Bronk, economic and community development manager for the town, said there was the possibility of a land swap between the Bill Memorial Library at 240 Monument Ave., and the new owners of the school.
After Bronk and Hine spoke, the Town Council Committee of the Whole discussed the matter in executive session.