From makers of sophisticated electronics to a type of skateboard that comes from recycled wood, some rather innovative companies are finding that Fayetteville, AR is a good place to do business.
Consider, for instance, Arkansas Power Electronics International (APEI), Lavish Longboards and Acumen Brands. These relatively new startups may have nothing in common with each other in what they actually do, but they share similarities in how they each stand apart from traditional businesses. They can also point to their locations in Fayetteville and northern Arkansas as one of the reasons for their success.
That may be especially true for APEI Inc., which has a direct connection to the University of Arkansas. The company was founded in 1997 by a professor in the school’s Department of Electrical Engineering, Dr. Kraig Olejniczak. One of his former students there, Alex Lostetter, is now the company’s CEO.
“We value the university,” says Sharmila Mounce, director of business operations for APEI. “About 80 percent of our employees are university graduates. We’ve been able to bring some of the alumni back (from careers in other parts of the country).
“This is a wonderful place to live, and having a technology company such as ours is very attractive to people from this area who want to come back home.”
APEI, which has 38 employees and operating space of more than 30,000 square feet, develops, manufactures, and markets high-performance power electronics systems, motor drives and power packaging.
“The easiest way to describe (the technology) is, consider your laptop and the box between the wall outlet and your laptop,” Mounce explains. “That’s the power supply that takes the power coming out of the wall and converts it into something the laptop electronics are able to use. That’s similar to what we do, but we do more high-end applications and focus on military, aerospace and so forth.”
Skateboards from Recycled Wood
For an example of innovation on another scale, look no further than Nick Jones and the company he founded, Lavish Longboards. Longboards are known to give a smoother ride and enable more tricks than skateboards.
“Fayetteville is a great place to start a small business,” says Jones, who came to Arkansas from California, where he and some friends had designed the first longboards. “After launching our business here, we tested the online market. That’s when things got real.”
Jones’ longboards are made from 100 percent recycled wood from the Ozarks.
“The coolest thing about our design is that we can use almost any type of wood,” Jones says. “Sometimes one board will have up to 12 different types of wood.”
Find out more on top companies in Fayetteville, AR.