High-Tech Hidden Gem: Geokon: A Worldwide Success Story
The Lebanon Times has established a journalistic tradition of presenting all the positive highlights involved with living and working in this wonderful and unique community. This time we may have outdone ourselves!
It is our pleasure and honor to highlight one of the best-kept secrets in Lebanon and the Upper Valley. Tucked away on Spencer Street in a very unobtrusive location is one of the most renowned high-tech companies in the United States called Geokon, Inc. How many of you have had an occasion to pass by Geokon’s ultra modern manufacturing facility? We thought that might be the case!
“We have been flying under the radar for some time now,” exclaimed Lebanon native Chuck Chamley who serves as the company’s Director of Sales and has worked his way up the corporate ladder to now celebrate his 30th year with Geokon. “I started in September of 1988 working production, assembling gauges and electronic components, purchasing and sales. We have experienced notable growth in that time.”
That would be an understatement. Today, Geokon has emerged as the world leader in vibrating wire technology with a wide range of geotechnical instrumentation manufactured at its headquarters in Lebanon. Sales of Geokon’s high-tech products has surpassed more than $25 million per year with a worldwide market that includes Sales Agents in an astounding 74 countries!
“We have witnessed varied growth over the years and certainly the competition has increased. However, 65% of our business is done with foreign companies. In the early years, our growth rate would increase 10-20% but those numbers have slowed due to the competition. Take note that in some of these countries the patent laws are not as rigid as ours are and competitors can copy our technology and represent it as their product. Of course, the strong American dollar is also a factor.”
Chuck and the Geokon company are now eyeing the future and it appears as bright as a Lebanon sunrise. Geokon was named by the Lebanon Chamber of Commerce as the Business of The Year back in 2015 which comes as no surprise given the following news.
“We are planning an expansion here in Lebanon,” Chuck said. “Across from our present location we are planning on a new two or three story office complex that will be about 15,000 square feet and either two or three stories high. Following that, we do have plans to add additional manufacturing space.”
Chuck attributes a low turnover rate by its employees as a key element in Geokon’s remarkable success. It has quickly established a reputation as one of the finest firms to work for in the Upper Valley.
“Right at this time we have around 112 employees, 43 of them who have been here more than 15 years. Some have 20 to 30 years of service. With that said, the current labor market here in the Upper Valley is very difficult for a business to handle. I believe this area has around the third lowest unemployment rate in New England. We are always looking for assemblers, Sales Engineers, Geotechnical Engineers, Manufacturing Engineers and Graphic Designers. Our expansion will only increase that need.”
The key element to the company’s stunning success is a distinguished gentleman named Barrie Sellers who migrated from England to Lebanon and founded Geokon in 1979. In keeping with the employee longevity theme at Geokon, Mr Sellers is presently on site serving as President Emeritus in his early 80s. In addition, Jack Taylor who presently serves as Director of Operations and Finance was Geokon’s very first employee. Two other key contributors to Geokon’s continued success include Tony Simmonds, Director of Marketing, and Colin Judd, Director of Engineering.
Chuck Chamley is a Lebanon native, graduated from Lebanon High School and attended Plymouth State University. He resides in Lebanon with his wife Michelle, daughter Kaitlin, and son Jack.