Patrick Power aims to generate success


When the military sets up camp at a remote site, Patrick Power Products is hoping its generator sets will be there to make sure the lights go on and the air conditioning and cooking equipment are up and running.

The year-old Howard County company is developing and manufacturing auxiliary power units for military camps. It is also developing APUs for military combat vehicles and commuter jets. Officials at the company received patents for their products this year, said Steve Huter, president and chief operating officer of Patrick Power Products.

Founded by Harvey Patrick and based in a 6,600-square-foot building in Elkridge, Patrick Power Products has 14 employees. But there's room to grow.

Patrick Power Products anticipates expanding to 400 employees within the next few years. Huter and three other top executives from Patrick's former Howard County company, Pats Inc., have come to Patrick Power Products to build it into a success.

They know the drill. They built Pats, founded by Patrick in 1976, from a small business with five employees into a $40 million company with more than 400 workers. That company, which Patrick sold last year, manufactures APUs for business jets.

Officials at Patrick Power Products are hoping a large chunk of their business will come from the military, which Huter said is planning to replace 60,000 generators over the next 10 years. Patrick Power Products says its engines are quieter, smaller, lighter and use less fuel than the generator engines the military uses now.

For testing purposes, the military has ordered a few of the generator units, which cost from $15,000 to $50,000 depending on the quantity ordered and the configuration of the engine.

Patrick, 73, is semiretired and runs the new company part-time as its chief executive officer. But airplanes have long been a part of his life.

During World War II, he was an airplane mechanic. After the war, he continued in that line of work, went back to school for a bachelor's degree in engineering from the University of Miami, and worked in aircraft engineer development in Florida.

In 1966, he came to Baltimore to work for Butler Aviation (now Signature Aviation). In 1976, he was laid off and started his own company.

"I had to have a job, and a lot of my friends had to have a job," Patrick said.

And so came Pats, which grew over two decades and then gave birth to Patrick Power Products. When Patrick sold Pats he kept the rights to some products under development. Patrick Power Products was created to develop and market those products, including the generators, the APU for military vehicles and an APU that will fit commuter planes and uses electrical power, allowing pilots to run navigation equipment during preflight without turning on the engine.

Patrick is starting an aircraft mechanic school at the Sussex County Airport in Delaware. "The aviation industry's been pretty good to me," Patrick said, "so I thought I'd put something back."

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