From hands-on learning to air filtration
Concord-based Technology Education Concepts, Inc., has pivoted from providing schools with learning materials to selling air filtration
When Richard Amarosa founded Technology Education Concepts, Inc., back in 1987, he wanted to provide students in New Hampshire hands-on learning opportunities.
“He wanted to give students access to industrial materials, so that they had the hands-on training that’s actually being used in industry,” said Amarosa’s daughter, Justyn Constant, the senior vice president and marketing manager at Concord-based Technology Education Concepts, Inc. (TEC).
Amarosa began selling learning equipment to schools. Over the decades, the type of learning materials that TEC provides has changed: today it’s focused on technology like 3-D printers, laser engravers, and laser cutting machines. But the principal of hands-on education for students in middle schools, high schools and post-secondary schools has remained the same.
“It’s the hands-on equipment that helps students prepare for the workforce,” Constant said.
However, the pandemic threw a big wrench into TEC’s focus, when hands-on learning suddenly became dangerous.
“If the kids can’t be in the classroom using the equipment, we have to find other ways to get them resources to learn,” Constant said.
Some of TEC’s products already had digital components. Others developed them once schools across the country pivoted to remote learning. Constant said that having simulations that teach students about machinery is now a necessity, whereas before the pandemic it was considered a luxury.
In addition to schools being remote, TEC has found that teachers are just overwhelmed with digital options at the moment. It’s hard to sell teachers or schools on a new technology when they’re in survival mode for the 2020-2021 school year.
With their main market in flux, TEC turned to a small niche of their business that suddenly seemed full of promise.
“It’s actually a bit of a sidestep from what our regular business focus has been,” Constant explained.
Because laser engravers can emit fumes when certain materials are cut, TEC also sells fume extraction systems.
“From this, the air treatment systems product came to us as an opportunity to help mitigate the COVID-19 virus (and other airborne pathogens) – this product was a no brainer,” Constant said.
The company is now marketing air filters made by the supplier BSE. The filters use needlepoint bipolar ionization (NPBI) technology to clear the air. According to BSE, the system works in two ways: ions bind to particles like the virus, making them heavier and thus less likely to stay airborne and more likely to be captured by traditional HVAC filtration systems. In addition, the ions deactivate the virus by taking away its hydrogen.
Constant is enthusiastic about getting the technology into local schools. A school in Maine has purchased a system. The system is also in Constantly Pizza’s locations in Concord and Penacook — where Constant’s husband is an owner. There’s been a lot of local interest from local schools?, Constant says, but TEC is still working on educating school systems about the product and its benefits during a time when air filtration systems are popping up everywhere.
“A lot of schools haven’t looked at it yet, so we’re doing a lot of teaching,” Constant said.
While the BSE air filtration system provides a business opportunity, Constant also feels it’s a way to give back to the local community.
“Several of us have children in the local schools, so it’s our personal objective to help our schools have safe air,” she said. “We’re excited to be able to offer a product that can help fight the pandemic battle.”
This story is part of the 50 Businesses, 50 Solutions series, shared by partners in The Granite State News Collaborative, that aims to highlight how business leaders across the state, from mom and pop shops, to large corporations have adapted to meet the challenges and disruptions caused by the novel coronavirus in the hopes others may be able to replicate these ideas and innovations.For more information, visit collaborativenh.org.