LACONIA — One of the fastest-growing companies in the Lakes Region, Orion Entrance Control, Inc., has moved to a new location — just a few hundred yards from its prior home.
Orion Entrance Control, which designs and manufactures turnstiles, moved from 24 to 76A Lexington Drive, more than tripling its space to 44,000 square feet.
Orion was founded nine years ago by Steve Caroselli, a 1988 graduate of Laconia High School who had once operated a security company in central New Hampshire, then left the Granite State to work for a bigger company.
Before he left New Hampshire, though, while he was still installing mostly residential security systems, Caroselli was hired to do some work at Vutek in Meredith, which manufactures large-format printers. While working in the building, and looking over the expansive shop floor, he had a sudden thought: “Someday I’m going to have a big product I can ship anywhere in the world,” he said.
Last week, he was looking out over a production floor of about the same size, where his employees were building entrance systems — high-tech turnstiles — which had been ordered by corporate headquarters across the country. And in some cases, overseas.
The new space represents the third home for Orion in less than a decade. Caroselli started the company in 2009 in Hudson, and moved to 26A Lexington Drive in 2011. The company experienced strong growth in Laconia, and soon became cramped in the 11,000-square-foot space.
“We ran out of space about a year and a half ago. We were building in the cafeteria, building in the conference room, we had a great growth year and we’re doing it again,” said Caroselli.
Orion built its business by manufacturing high-tech and aesthetically pleasing turnstiles. The product can be as sophisticated as the customer wants them, including the use of biometic readers to take the place of access cards.
There are other companies that offer such products, but Caroselli said there are a few elements of his business that combine to make what he calls a “secret sauce” to set Orion apart.
One of the ingredients to that “sauce” is sourcing parts from local suppliers. Caroselli has developed relationships with small manufacturers in New England — many in New Hampshire — to supply the components that make up Orion’s products.
His customers tend to appreciate that Orion products are American-made. That also gives the company another advantage: flexibility. Caroselli said that customization is another of his company’s attributes, and having relationships with small, local suppliers makes it possible for Orion to deliver a product that meets customer wishes.
Orion can meet those wishes quickly, too. The industry standard is two to three months to fill orders; Orion ships in about half that time.
The company currently employs 27 people, and has six open positions. Caroselli considers staffing to be a challenge but not a problem, as he has sought to make Orion a magnet for talent.
“My philosophy on staffing is, we are always recruiting. We want to build a company that people want to work at. … I figure if we treat our workers well, they will take care of our customers and, at the end of the day, we’ll all make more money,” Caroselli said. Orion is on pace to increase revenue by 40 percent over last year.
To further drive that growth, Orion is launching a new product, DoorGuard, which can tell how many people are passing through a doorway, and how many people are in a room. The DoorGuard uses light detection and ranging technology, which is also used in cars for active safety features and self-driving. The DoorGuard, a small box mounted above a doorway, can detect, for example, if one person swipes a badge to enter a secure area and two people enter.
“I expect that will be a major growth area for us,” Caroselli said about the DoorGuard.
“It’s exciting to be growing again – we’re not going to stop,” he said. “I expect we will be three times this [size] in next two years.”