March 2008 | Abeo, CT join Earl Industries

By Michael Schwartz, Inside Business

Earl Industries has recently gathered two small technology companies under its umbrella.

Abeo Corp. and CT Solutions have joined together to become an Earl subsidiary known as Abeo Technical Solutions LLC. The new subsidiary will operate within the Earl Technology Group arm that, since the summer, has expanded its reach by bringing a handful of technology companies into its portfolio.

Portsmouth-based Earl, best-known for its work in ship repair for the Navy and metal manufacturing, began growing ETG when it formed ventures with locally based EchoStorm and CorMine.

The deal with Abeo and CT went down Feb. 11, but has not been formally announced by any of the firms involved. Bill Woods, Abeo spokesman, said the specifics are still being worked out.

?This is still all coming together,? he said.

Details of the financial side of the deal are a bit gray. It is unclear whether Abeo and CT were acquired by Earl. But Woods did say that Earl has an ?equity stake? in Abeo Technical Services.

Jerry Miller, Earl?s president, did not return a call by press time.

The leadership team of ATS includes CEO Bill Adams, former head of CT Solutions, and Abeo?s former leader Mic Borcherding, who will serve as president of the new combined entity.

The main office of ATS will be in Mt. Laurel, N.J., where CT resides.

The venture will combine the wireless capabilities of Herndon-based Abeo with the digital video analytic capabilities of CT Solutions to create new products it hopes will enhance the security of critical infrastructure.

Adding the larger Earl into the mix gives the two small firms the capital needed to develop and expand and the clout of the Earl name when going after contracts.

The draw for Earl, Woods said, is that the new company ?meshed nicely with what they were trying to achieve within their portfolio of the technology group.?

ETG began its growth with acquisitions of a stake in CorMine Intelligent Data, an offshoot of CorMine, now known as Perfect Commerce. Last summer, Earl also formed a venture with EchoStorm known as EchoStorm Worldwide.

ATS will focus on infrastructure security solutions using high-tech video analytics and RFID tracking for critical infrastructure such as airports, oil refineries, military bases and shipyards.

?The goal is to reduce false alarms and put more intelligence on the ground,? Woods said of securing critical instillations. ?Somebody can only watch so many monitors at one time.?

The combination of the three companies did not occur out of the blue.

?It was a natural evolution of having worked together,? Woods said.

Abeo, Earl and CTS worked together in what Woods said was originally more of a consortium through which each company had capabilities that the others needed for project.

?Now we will have all the in-house intellectual property we need to create this platform,? Woods said.

Critical infrastructure security is ?going to become more important as time goes on,? Woods said.

Abeo has an office in Williamsburg that originally was a client of the James City County Technology Incubator. Woods didn?t know how the deal would affect the local office.

But he did say he hoped the new venture would help grow the firm?s local presence.

Copyright 2004, Earl Industries, LLC