The city of Oak Ridge, TN, established in 1942 as a production site for the Manhattan Project—the massive American, British, and Canadian operation that developed the atomic bomb—most assuredly retains its technological prowess. With its Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Y-12 National Security Complex, the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) plays a crucial role in the city's economy and culture. DoE veterans such as George Solomon contribute greatly as well.
In 1986, Solomon left his DoE position to launch his own company in the basement of his Oak Ridge home with a business partner.
“We purchased used government equipment from a closed DoE plant, which included machine tools, instrumentation, flanges, fittings, etc.,” explains Solomon, president of Vacuum Technology Inc. (VTI). “And, we began building these little gas bottles known as calibrated leaks—devices that emit tiny flow rates of gas. A calibrated leak calibrates a helium leak detector, used in industry to find leaks in products.”
VTI grew slowly but steadily and soon moved to a 4000-sq.-ft. facility as its product line expanded.
“The calibrated leaks led us into the leak-testing business,” reflects Solomon. “We also started to build the system that performed actual leak detection, utilizing our calibrated leak product line. To do this, we slowly added machine capability—milling machines, turning centers, waterjet cutters, etc.”
By 2020, VTI had evolved to occupy a new 100,000-sq.-ft. facility with 70 employees, and now is recognized as a world-leading provider of calibrated leaks, vacuum hardware and custom vacuum systems and services. It services HVAC, automotive-component, U.S. government, battery, medical and other customers.