By Patrick McCallister
For Hometown News
New and expanding companies need engineering departments, but it's a pricey proposition that's out of reach for many. Dr. Magdy Attia figured smaller companies would like to have engineers they could use on demand.
"You can use us for two weeks or several years," he said. "When you don't need us anymore, you put us back on the shelf."
Mr. Attia owns AbM Engineering, one of about a dozen upstarts at the University of Central Florida's Business Incubator at the Daytona Beach International Airport, 601 Innovation Way.
"We are a full-service engineering firm," he said. "Our mission really is to become the engineering division of small- and medium-size businesses."
In addition to him, the company has three engineers and numerous freelance consultants at the ready. It all started about eight years ago when Mr. Attia tired of a job he was at.
"When I resigned in 2003, I started the company," he said. "It was a one-man show for a few years, then I wanted to grow it."
That put him on a course heading toward the business incubator, which celebrated its first anniversary in July. In 2010 the Volusia County Council approved $1.4 million to renovated a 10,000-square-foot facility to house it. Additionally, the county gave the university $750,000 to run it for three years.
"The business incubator is a place to start a company," Doris "Connie" Bernal, site manager said. "The entrants have a lot of resources to work with here. They have professionals who help them with a number of areas."
For example, Mr. Attia said while he knew a lot about making things fit together and work in perfect harmony, there was more to learn.
"I'm very skilled at my job, but what I didn't know was how to run a business," he said. "It's not enough to have an idea. You need to have marketing and legal. You need a lot of stuff they don't teach you at engineering school."
Mr. Attia said his company has reached from DeLand to China, thanks in large part to the Internet.
"They have an idea and funding and vision," he said. "They just need engineers to take it from an idea to a product. We take you from the idea phase to the manufacturing phase."
His business also adds value to Volusia's bottom line.
"My vision, maybe 10 years, about 20 to 25 (employees)," he said. "Super engineers, a one-man army, and keep them pretty busy."
Also, he said he's working with area schools, such as Daytona State College, to give interns real-world experience. AbM Engineering also will eventually need support staff.
"I see us maybe doing $10 to $12 million gross revenue a year," Mr. Attia said.
AbM Engineering will celebrate its first year at the business incubator in November.