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Bedford Company Receives Recognition for Thriving Despite Challe - abc27 WHTM

Bedford Company Receives Recognition for Thriving Despite Challenges

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Bedford, Va-  A family owned company in Bedford has been put on the map. Blue Ridge Optics made thin film coatings and laser components mainly for the Department of Defense until last year. Now, they've restructured the way they do things and broadened their marketing.

They had 90 % sales revenue coming from the Department of Defense last year. That changed with sequestration and government cut-backs, but that hasn't set this company back. They now have almost 30 % of sales coming from commercial and medical sectors.

"We don't market ourselves big in the local community so not a lot of people know we're here. I think- you know, we get our local passer-byers. We get people in here looking for an eyeglass company," said Justin Siehien, the general manager of Blue Ridge Optics.

But Blue Ridge Optics is far from an eyeglasses company. Since Walter Siehien founded the company seven years ago, it has grown from two to twenty-two employees.

It now provides the world's leading aerospace contractors with high quality, thin film coatings and laser components.

"We're doing something important here and we're actually getting somewhere and making a name for ourselves," said  Kish Thakurwani, lab manager of Blue Ridge Optics.

The company has made pieces that have gone to NASA, and some have even been on Mars.

Their main business comes from the defense industry, but with sequestration and government cutbacks, they've had to diversify-- and it worked.

Now the company is a recipient of UVA's Tayloe Murphy Resilience Award-- recognizing businesses who grow and thrive despite challenges, and it's gotten them some community recognition.

 "It's nice when there's an awareness at the local universities. At UVA and Virginia Tech that there is an optics and aerospace manufacturing company out here in Bedford," said Siehien.

Siehien also said they are always looking for good workers. Every employee at the company has been hired locally.

It's a very good environment. It's a family owned company, and it feels like a family owned company," said Thakurwani.

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