- Q & A
Ms. Miller: Franek Technologies is a company that specializes in providing complete Laboratory Power Protection Systems / Uninterruptible Power Supplies (LPS/UPS) for analytical, diagnostics, forensic, life science, pharmaceutical, and biotechnology instrumentation systems applications. We support laboratory instruments that are very sensitive to high-tech type instruments. For example, we have a lot of crime labs that are doing some kind of DNA testing and they have a small sample from a crime scene, and they need to ensure that the power that is running this machine is uninterrupted and that there is no interference because the machine is so sensitive with the type of information it is extracting from. A Franek UPS produces a pure sign wave and maintains a constant power supply even in a brownout or blackout to insure the instrument is never without power. It’s almost like having a water filter on your water tap and it filters out all the bad particles. We filter out noise from harmonics so that the machine is running in a pristine type of environment. The laboratory equipment can run anywhere from $50 to $500 thousand, so not only is the equipment very expensive but the test run is very critical to what they are trying to achieve and a Franek UPS helps protect the instrument from any power-related damage.
Ms. Miller: The beauty of our units is that they can be customized to fit any instrument in any laboratory environment. Our Uninterruptible Power Supply unit is customized to every individual lab’s needs and arrives complete with the correct power, voltages, and receptacles making installation simple. Plugin the instrument and any accessories, plug in the UPS and turn it on and you are finished. We support universities, labs, hospitals, so some people have a central UPS (uninterruptible power supply or uninterruptible power source), and it is huge so you cannot move it, whereas ours are more portable so that they can move in the location as needed. If they get a new instrument and they call us, we can repurpose our units and help them change it over to another instrument in the lab, so we will look at the power requirements and we will help them as well. Typically our units last for five to ten years. We have even had phone calls from some of our customers where they were still using it after fifteen or twenty years.
Ms. Miller: The main problem that happens with the UPS is the batteries need to be replaced, just like a car battery. There are still led acid batteries, so we recommend that you change them every three to five years. We have a serial number and we know where each one of our UPS’s is, who we sold it to, the date, where it went, and the application it was used for. We are proactive and every three years we will remind our customers to change their batteries. Our customers trust us and our products and they know it is going to work. Our units have a feature where you can do a battery test on it and it will let them know the life of the battery also.
Q: How can you provide that high degree of stability with Power Protections for Labs?
Ms. Miller: Because a UPS is a string of batteries inside of it, and a UPS has not changed, although technology has changed over the years. A UPS twenty years ago is the same as it is today because electricity does not change. AC/DC power does not change, so an electrician would understand it, or anybody involved with electricity would understand how currents run. It has not changed in years. We give support in New York, and those buildings are so old, and the infrastructure of the power grids. You just get a plug and plug it in. You can take your blow dryer and plug it into your house, or take your blow dryer and plug it into your neighbor’s house. If you travel to Europe, all you need is an adapter and you will plug in the adapter to your blow dryer. That is the same simplicity as a UPS, it has not changed. People trust it because it is a simple piece of equipment. It is a series of six to eight batteries in there. As long as you have the right plug, it is that simple.
Q: Do most of the people should have a back-up for this type of equipment have it? Is it somewhat standard in certain industries? Is there recognition of how simple Power Protections?
Ms. Miller: Yes, they do because they have unfortunately learned the hard way by going without one at some point in time. They have experienced first hand how power surges or blackouts can damage and destroy their instrument that costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. We work closely with the instrument manufacturers. The manufacturers who are selling their equipment will not sell a UPS. However, once they make that sale, then they will tell the customer that they highly recommend that they purchase a UPS. The reason they do not sell a UPS with their instrument is that it is not the market they are in.
Q: What is your global reach for Franek Power Protection Systems?
Ms. Miller: Right now we are in the US and Canadian market. We have sold to Europe and other countries before. About six years ago we thought we were going to grow in that market, but there is so much here in the US that we have not tapped into yet. We dialed it back because in Europe they have a 60-hertz type of system power grid and we do not sell or service enough to do marketing to that industry. If someone calls us and asks if we can provide this service for them our engineers can make it happen.
Q: You mentioned Power Protections for crime labs; would that be government agencies?
Ms. Miller: Yes. We do a lot of work with both federal and state agencies.
Q: What have you learned about working with the government or is it a pretty simple transaction?
Ms. Miller: It is. Sometimes there is more paperwork involved and a lot more red tape but because we are a small company, we can focus on what exactly they need to be done to make a purchase. We have to have a SAM (System for Award Management) registration, which is a central contracting TC&R. We are approved to sell to the government. We are ISO certified and they take all that into consideration.
Many times we have to go out to bid. We will ask for a quote but if it is over a certain amount, we know they are going to put it out to bid so everybody has an opportunity. Sometimes we win and sometimes we lose. It is just the nature of the business. I get why the government is doing that, they are just trying to be fair and make sure there is not a monopoly and someone takes advantage of price gouges. I find it easy though, it does not bother me when I know there is the paperwork we have to do. We have a great team and we know how to handle it. They work closely with us because they want the protections themselves and they like working with us because we give them the support after the sale which a lot of bigger manufacturers are unable to provide.
Q: What is the competitive landscape in the Power Protections Systems?
Ms. Miller: It is very competitive. There are probably about 4 different companies that I can say are direct competition with us. Occasionally they can probably price their UPS’ out with a better deal than we can. The difference between them and us is they may not be able to support on a one-to-one personal relationship like we do with the labs here because our engineers have experience with the analytical research and diagnostic types of labs. Herewith us, all we do is work strictly with the lab. We do not just sell a product; we provide a service and a solution for the lab market.
Ms. Miller: I am the one who started that and a lot of times we see that women are not exposed or encouraged to participate in the STEM industry. Franek Technologies is a women-owned business. I believe that women need to help each other grow and I believe we have the power to be anything we want. I am a mom, and a grandmother, and a businesswoman. If that is what we choose to do I think it helps young women to know that they have people behind them supporting and encouraging them along the way. That was more on a personal level that I wanted to reach out and give back to young women who want to pursue a field in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. I say women, but it is not only women if young men came to me and asked if they could apply for the scholarship, but I would also support that because as long as I saw that they were giving respect and empowering women in the field as well, I want to encourage that. To apply for our scholarship they just have to write an essay about being a woman pursuing their degree in STEM and or supporting women in STEM.
Q: What is next for Franek Technologies Products and Services?
Ms. Miller: What I would love to do is bring along another product line. I think we are ready for that and my goal is to do a mobile cart UPS. I have seen attempts of them in the hospitals. When my grandson was born, I was in the hospital and I saw the nurse wheel in this cart. They had rigged up a computer and a UPS and they used Bungie cords to tie it together. I could not believe it. However, if I can provide a mobile cart solution for a lab or hospital setting that needs this on the go I will. We give support to our military, and they have many labs that have to be set up in the desert, and they use our UPS’s. That is just another natural product solution to give to help the laboratories to be a little bit more mobile.
Q: Why is now the time For Labs to Protect the Labs instrument from Power Failures?
Mr. Miller: I think the market is ready for it. I see a lot of growth and I believe it is going to help. It is another way for Franek Technologies to be able to provide and grow.
Q: Why choose Franek Technologies Power Protection Systems?
Ms. Miller: They are going to get real people that have worked with real issues in labs. We have seen it first hand and we know how to deal with their problems and how to create solutions that they do not have to think about for years to come. You get real people on the phone and you get real answers. It has been tried and true and certified. We have customers that are very happy with the product and solution we provide.
Interview conducted by: