Schonstedt Instrument Company
Located in Kearneysville, Schonstedt Instrument Company is an employee-owned (ESOP) company that develops and manufactures magnetic sensor technology and equipment for surveyors, utilities, and construction companies around the world. Schonstedt is an industry innovator and trendsetter that distributes its products through 300 dealers in the United States and exports to more than 80 countries. The company has been recognized multiple times with the West Virginia Governor’s Commendation for International Market Entry Award and has partnered with the United Nations Mine Action Service to provide free magnetic locators to UN-supported humanitarian demining efforts in war-ravished countries.
Schonstedt was founded in 1953 by Erick O. Schonstedt and initially manufactured magnetometers for the aerospace industry. Schonstedt Instrument Company was originally located in Reston, Virginia, where the company was willed to Augustana College in Illinois upon the death of Eric Schonstedt, the founder. In 1997, investors purchased and relocated the company to Jefferson County in a 25,000 sq ft facility, and that’s where Schonstedt Instrument Company’s success story in Jefferson County starts.
Over the course of 15 years, Schonstedt has grown 35 percent in sales revenue. Much of that growth has been facilitated by the pro-business spirit and strategic location of Jefferson County.
“Jefferson County maintains a very supportive environment for small businesses, and I know they work hard to do so,” says Mark Pugh, President of the Schonstedt Instrument Company. “The smooth operation of a large, flexible business park like Burr Business Park is critical to our business, but it doesn’t just happen. The JCDA does a lot behind the scenes that makes our business run efficiently.”
The Schonstedt team also notes that the cost of doing business and tax structure are very good. There is excellent banking in Jefferson County, which is essential for an ESOP that needs easy access to banks for lending, payroll, and debt structuring.
Schonstedt appreciates Jefferson County’s prime location for shipping and transit. The company ships to some 30 to 40 countries and works with over 400 regional, national, and international suppliers, from the Far East to North Carolina to Winchester, Virginia. Being located in Jefferson County makes it easy to coordinate those shipments.
“It’s very important that our regional suppliers can get to us within a day, and we’re positioned for that here in Jefferson County,” says Bob Ebberson, Director of Business Development for Schonstedt Instrument Company. “Jefferson County is well positioned along the Mid-Atlantic north and western corridor for access to suppliers and ready access to important transportation routes. And it’s easy for customers to get to us, too.”
This access to a talented workforce helped Schonstedt Instrument Company see a new side of West Virginia.
“The proximity to Washington, DC, and the quality of the schools in Jefferson County helps to attract employees,” says Ebberson. “The quality of the employee is particularly important because of the company’s ESOP status. But we’ve always been able to find people with good work habits, integrity and the technical expertise we need.”
“For the past 20 years we’ve come to see a side of West Virginia that others sometimes miss,” says Pugh. “West Virginia is more than just a coal and steel state. Jefferson County and, more specifically, the Burr Business Park makes a very strong home base for small and advanced manufacturing.”