Staying close to home
Global Technical Systems is building a $54.7 million facility in Virginia Beach
Global Technical Systems (GTS) considered locations in Mississippi, Oklahoma, Florida and Northern Virginia when it decided to build a new advanced-manufacturing plant. Ultimately, however, it stuck to its roots in Virginia Beach.
“The city has been really good to me. It’s great to work with,” says Terry Spitzer, the co-founder and co-owner of the company with his wife, Yusun. The company started in Virginia Beach in 1997 and has headquarters on the city’s Lynnhaven Parkway.
A provider of advanced-engineering solutions for defense, homeland security and related U.S. government and international customers, GTS is investing $54.7 million in its new 500,000-plus-square-foot manufacturing operation. The plant is expected to create more than 1,100 jobs in two to three years with an average annual salary of $74,000. “I think the total investment will push over $100 million before we are done,” Spitzer says.
The company will construct a manufacturing center where it will produce and distribute “flywheels” (electro-mechanical batteries) for the U.S. Department of Defense and commercial customers. The facility will be located on approximately 30 acres currently owned by the city at the site of the former Owl’s Creek Golf Course.
“We would like to break ground in April,” Spitzer says. “We have been promised a completed building 12 months after that, but that won’t include the production lines. Those will probably lag two months behind.” GTS currently has nine facilities in Oklahoma, California, Alabama, Florida and Virginia.
Spitzer, a Navy veteran, got the idea for the company after seeing a growing need for up-to-date technology in the military. “The military wasn’t keeping up with technology like the commercial world,” he says.
GTS designs, builds and produces combat, command, control, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems for the Defense Department. “We morphed from a service company into a total research, development and production [firm],” Spitzer says. “We are experts in chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosives.”
On the commercial side of the business, the company is a National Security Agency-certified integrator. It provides secure communications. “We are at the leading edge of a new program — commercial solutions for classified data,” Spitzer says. “There is a need for this, and we understand the need. We build, test, certify and produce the technology.”
The new communications program is used to send sensitive information. While any type of business can use it, it is especially helpful to the military as well as health-care and financial institutions. “No one is going to crack this. No one is going to hack this,” Spitzer says. “That I can guarantee.”
The company also produces carbon-fiber technologies for the Department of Defense and commercial industry. It can take any kind of energy, such as solar or wind, and convert the electrical power to kinetic energy. It stores the energy until it is needed. “Energy is the machine that drives the world’s economy,” Spitzer says. “We are doing something that has a worldwide touch.”
Kinetic energy is 100 percent green, he adds. “It can drop a company’s data costs for power by 40 to 50 percent,” Spitzer says.
The company will have to make its own raw materials, set up its own supply lines and create a market. “It’s the hardest thing I have done, but it’s something we are really excited about,” he says.
New employees will need to be trained on the technology. GTS will work with local and regional workforce partners to develop customized training programs. Spitzer likes to employ other veterans because they have the “attitude and mentality as well as similar training,” he says.
Being able to secure GTS’ commitment to Virginia Beach was the city’s “biggest success in 2017,” says Warren Harris, Virginia Beach’s economic development director. “GTS is changing the world. The company has been working on the prototype at its Lynnhaven headquarters facility for several years and the market response has been incredible. This confirms that our efforts to create a sustainable and diverse innovative economy are working.”
Spitzer, who grew up in the Shenandoah Valley, has lived in Virginia most of his life. “The idea of creating manufacturing jobs and going in with something cutting edge and being able to put this in Virginia was a big deal for us,” he says.