"Located in the far reaches of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (UP), Neuvokas Corporation was founded in 2013 by Erik Kiilunen and Ken Keranen. Neuvokas runs out of the former Rensen Manufacturing facility in Keweenaw County, which the company renovated with state of the art equipment and machinery. The team at Neuvokas has now grown to five, with plans to add another 30+ employees over the next two to three years as the company scales production..."
" "Inventiveness" or "resourcefulness" constitutes a key building block for entreprenuerial ventures, and the Finnish translation, "Neuvokas," is the moniker of an advanced-materials company from the far reaches of Michigan's Upper Peninsula..." Read more.
Ahmeek, MI – January 6, 2016 – Neuvokas Corporation was selected by the Michigan Small Business Development Corporation (MI-SBDC) to represent the state at Americas Small Business Development Corporation (ASBDC) annual Capitol Hill Reception on February 1, 2016 in Washington DC. Neuvokas produces fiber based rebar from its manufacturing facility in Michigan’s upper peninsula. The Company’s rebar, manufactured at scale, can compete head-to-head with steel rebar being imported from China. “Being selected to attend this conference out of all of companies across this country is something we’re proud of,” said company Chief Executive Officer Erik Kiilunen, “it’s a testament to the value we’ve been able to create working with Michigan’s SBDC.”
About Neuvokas Corporation. Founded in 2012, Neuvokas Corporation is an Ahmeek, MI based company that manufactures and distributes FRP rebar made from basalt fiber (BFRP). Distributed under the GatorBar™ brand Neuvokas’ BFRP is stronger and seven times lighter than steel, is non-corrosive and sells for the same price as its domestically produced steel counterpart.
About the ASBDC. America’s SBDC represents America’s nationwide network of Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) – the most comprehensive small business assistance network in the United States and its territories.
About the MI-SBDC. The Michigan Small Business Development Center provides counseling, business education, information based planning and technology commercialization services to Michigan’s new business ventures, existing small businesses, growing businesses and innovators. The Michigan SBDC State Headquarters is located at the Grand Valley State University, Seidman College of Business in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Download official press release here.
Daily Mining Gazette - November 23, 2015
"AHMEEK LOCATION - Neuvokas is a Finnish word meaning resourceful, creative or innovative, and it's also the name of a manufacturing company in Ahmeek Location, which recently received an award for innovation in energy conservation..."
ABC 10 News- November 19, 2015
"AHMEEK - A manufacturing company in Ahmeek has a long road ahead of them. And that's good news because they produce a fiber reinforced polymer rebar used in the construction of roads..."
The following excerpt was taken from the Hancock City Council Meeting, as written by Mitch Lake of 920AM WMPL Radio. October 21st, 2015:
"Remember the fun you had driving through Houghton a few years ago during the reconstruction of Shelden Avenue? Well, you can relive those memories next year in Hancock when MDOT tears up Quincy Street/US41. Hancock City Manager Glenn Anderson outlined to the council last night the scope of the project which will have a pricetag of 7.2 million dollars. It will be bid on February 12. Some of the highlights of the project will be reconstruction beginning on Front Street all the way down Quincy to Krist Oil Company. Since traffic will be routed along Hancock Street, it will involve the first ever traffic light in the city. It will be temporary and will be at M203 and Quincy Street. The project will be done in four segments with each one taking six weeks to complete. All of the light posts on Quincy will be replaced and LED lighting will be installed. Coal bins along the street will be filled in and new utility conduits will be installed for telephone and electric. Plus water system upgrades. Two unique aspects will be the use of a new type of rebar called GatorBar. It is a much lighter and noncorrosive rebar that is manufactured in Ahmeek. MDOT says this is the first project in Michigan to use GatorBar. Also Anderson said that granite will be used in the 100 block for the transition area from the curb to the main sidewalk..."
The project is taking place in Hancock, Michigan, just 15 miles south of the Neuvokas Headquarters. Construction will begin in early 2016.
Ahmeek, MI – November 11, 2015 – Last night the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council, Michigan’s leading advanced energy business association honored Neuvokas Corporation with its Emerging Business of the Year award at its annual gala. At scale Neuvokas’ FRP rebar manufacturing process enjoys a 6.6:1 cost of energy advantage over its steel counterpart. The process allows Neuvokas to compete head-to-head with steel rebar being imported from China.
“We are very honored to receive this award,” said company Chief Operating Officer Ken Keranen, “its rewarding to see that all our hard work is being recognized state wide.”
About Neuvokas Corporation. Founded in 2012, Neuvokas Corporation is an Ahmeek, MI based company that manufactures and distributes FRP rebar made from basalt fiber (BFRP). Distributed under the GatorBar™ brand Neuvokas’ BFRP is seven times lighter than steel, is non-corrosive and sells for the same price as its steel counterpart.
About the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council. The Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council is the only trade association dedicated to and focused on companies doing business in Michigan’s burgeoning advanced energy economy. Michigan EIBC’s mission is to grow Michigan’s advanced energy economy by fostering opportunities for innovation and business growth and offering a unified voice in creating a business-friendly environment for the advanced energy industry in Michigan.
Ahmeek, MI – November 5, 2015 - Neuvokas Corporation was selected as one of 10 finalists at the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition (AMIC). On the strength of company founder and CEO, Erik Kiilunen presentation the day before, Neuvokas earned the right to present in the event’s final showcase. Neuvokas’ proved to be the crowd favorite and was awarded the “Peoples Choice” prize good for $10,000.
Held November 4th and 5th at the Westin Book Cadillac hotel in Detroit, MI, AMIC is an international business competition celebrating its sixth year of connecting later-stage entrepreneurial companies with national and international investors. The competition showcases 50 (from over 250 applicants) of the best and brightest businesses to the investment community in order to foster engagement and economic growth.
Founded in 2012, Neuvokas Corporation is an Ahmeek, MI based company that manufactures and distributes FRP rebar made from basalt fiber (BFRP). Distributed under the GatorBar™ brand Neuvokas’ BFRP is seven times lighter than steel, is non-corrosive and sells for the same price as its steel counterpart.
For the third year in a row, Neuvokas Corporation was selected as a semifinalist at the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition (AMIC). On November 4th, at 2:20 pm company founder and CEO, Erik Kiilunen will pitch Neuvokas to a panel of judges at the Westin Book Cadillac hotel in Detroit, MI. The winner of AMIC’s “Shark-Tank” style competition is eligible for up to $500,000 in cash and prizes. “Not only is this an opportunity to bring home some cash” says Mr. Killunen, “but it's a amazing chance to let the rest of the world know the significant things we’re doing up here in the UP.”
Held November 4th and 5th at the Westin Book Cadillac hotel in Detroit, MI, AMIC is an international business competition celebrating its sixth year of connecting later-stage entrepreneurial companies with national and international investors. The competition showcases the best and brightest businesses to the investment community in order to foster engagement and economic growth.
Founded in 2012,Neuvokas Corporation is an Ahmeek, MI based company that manufactures and distributes FRP rebar made from basalt fiber (BFRP). Distributed under the GatorBar™ brand Neuvokas’ BFRP is seven times lighter than steel, is non-corrosive and sells for the same price as its steel counterpart.
National Science Foundation
"The Michigan Department of Transporation is awarding a grant to support the creation of 31 new jobs in Keweenaw County..."
MDOT Press Release
The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) is awarding a state transportation economic development grant that will support the creation of 31 new jobs in Keweenaw County. A Transportation Economic Development Fund (TEDF) Category A grant for $136,911 will leverage $1.58 million in private investment, at a private/public ratio of better than 11-to-1.
Neuvokas Corp. is a manufacturer of a basalt fiber reinforced polymer rebar, trademarked as GatorBar, which is used in the concrete construction industry. The company needed a larger facility in order to expand its operations. Other locations were considered, including in Wisconsin, before the company purchased a vacant building in Allouez Township, adjacent to No. 6 Road.
Company representatives said that they needed year-round all-season road access to receive raw materials and ship out finished product. No. 6 Road, which connects the company's facility to US-41/M-26, is not currently an all-season route, limiting the company's ability to ship efficiently year-round. To address this issue and ensure year-round access for the facility, Keweenaw County Road Commission will resurface No. 6 road to bring it up to all-season standards, along with adding shoulder and drainage improvements. The improvements will allow Neuvokas to create 31 jobs and invest $1.58 million in new equipment.
Total estimated cost for this project is $171,139, including $136,911 in state TEDF funds and $34,228 from the Keweenaw County Road Commission.
Enacted in 1987 and reauthorized in 1993, the TEDF helps finance highway, road and street projects that encourage private investment in Michigan resulting in job creation or retention. TEDF "Category A" or "Targeted Industries Program" grants provide state funding for transportation improvements that will help accommodate increased traffic and provide commercial routes that are safer and more efficient for new and expanding companies. Eligible road agencies include MDOT, county road commissions, cities and villages. More information about the program is available online at www.michigan.gov/tedf.
MISBDC Success Story
Early-stage manufacturer Neuvokas Corporation, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (UP), has secured over $2.8 million in funding to develop a new technology. This new technology is capable of producing Fiber Reinforced Polymer (FRP) rebar used in the construction industry. The funding will also support job creation and on-the-job training for new employees over the course of the next two years.
Neuvokas makes FRP rebar under the trademarked name – GatorBar™. This product is made through a novel manufacturing process of combining fiber with a matrix resin. The method used to produce GatorBar provides a more efficient way to manufacture a, rust-free rebar product with an extended service life of up to 20 times the current standard (steel) with cost savings on labor and freight. GatorBar also enables a 30% reduction in concrete usage and less CO2 emissions. The product is at or near price parity with black steel – a task that has eluded FRP manufactures for over 30 years.
“My experience in manufacturing and process development allowed me to recognize an opportunity to make an existing product more efficiently,” said Erik Kiilunen, CEO of Neuvokas Corporation. “Using the improved controls and raw materials available today we’ve increased process speed for FRP rebar 3x already and have a 15x increase projected within 6 months.”
Initially the company raised $1.2M private equity. It was followed by $45K in services from the Small Business Development Center’s (SBDC) Business Accelerator Fund (BAF) through the MTEC Smart Zone. The BAF services helped the company meet important investor milestones. Then the National Science Foundation (NSF) provided a $150K Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant, which was matched by a $25K Emerging Technologies Fund (ETF) grant from the SBDC. (The SBDC’s BAF and ETF are managed in partnership with the MEDC.) A $30K NSF SBIR Phase IB grant was also received. The University of Michigan’s (U-M) Institute for Research on Labor, Employment, and the Economy (IRLEE) program provided a $25K grant. The Michigan Corporate Relations Network (MCRN) provided a $40K grant. A Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) of $275K was received through the Township of Allouez (Keweenaw County) and the Michigan Strategic Fund. The U.S. Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) provided $40K in grants and a $350K unsecured note. In addition to these funds, the company recently closed on a $1M Series “A” extension bringing the total raised over $2.8M.
Located in the far reaches of Michigan’s UP, Neuvokas Corporation was founded in 2013 by Erik Kiilunen and Ken Keranen. Neuvokas runs out of the former Rensen Manufacturing facility in Keweenaw County, which the company renovated with state of the art equipment and machinery. The team at Neuvokas has now grown to 5 with plans to add another 30+ employees over the next two to three years as the company scales production.
“I can’t take all the credit for our success,” shared Kiilunen. “I’m blessed to have a strong team behind me that includes my wife and family, our employees, outstanding investor partners, and numerous supporters from groups like the SBDC, Cleantech Open, and NextEnergy.
Kiilunen shared their early success was fueled by what he and Keranen learned in the five-month Accelerator program from the Cleantech Open, which also earned Neuvokas a Sustainability Award at the 2014 Midwest Cleantech Open. He also recognized Dan Radomski from Next Energy for helping the company secure the EERE funding and Arcadio (Kayo) Ramirez from the Michigan Small Business Development Center (SBDC) for helping them secure some of the funding as well and providing assistance in building a business model suited best for Neuvokas.
In working with the Michigan SBDC, Kiilunen received no-cost counseling and hands-on support from a handful of Business Consultants across the Michigan SBDC network. The assistance included support with developing a strategic business plan, building a business/financial model, making critical introductions to potential investors, assistance in writing SBIR/STTR proposals, and preparing an investment roadmap.
Neuvokas Corporation is the manufacturer of GatorBar™, a Fiber Reinforced Polymer (FRP) rebar used primarily in the construction industry. Headquartered in Ahmeek, MI, the company brings advanced engineering and materials science to manufacture industry-leading solutions for construction. For more details, visit www.neuvokascorp.com.