San Diego Business Journal

Oceanside Firm Is Finding Success in Its Space

SCIENCE: Company’s Telescopes Are in Demand By Schools, Stargazers By Mike Allen Monday, January 14, 2013
The Cranbrook Institute of Science near Detroit upgraded its 1929 observatory with a purchase of three telescopes from Oceanside Photo & Telescope.

The Cranbrook Institute of Science near Detroit upgraded its 1929 observatory with a purchase of three telescopes from Oceanside Photo & Telescope.

While OPT should win more contracts from the many observatories in need of upgrades, company officials said they’re jazzed over the prospect of more high schools and grammar schools buying astronomy equipment to show students a glimpse of the heavens.

“Clearly, young people who use telescopes get stimulated by science, and naturally start asking questions,” he said. “It’s similar to what happened during the Apollo space program.”

Besides the educational market, OPT sells telescopes, cameras and mounting equipment to all the largest aerospace companies, including Boeing, Lockheed-Martin Corp., Northrop Grumman, and Raytheon Co.. It also sells to NASA , and to the European Space Agency, Emerson said.

Last year, OPT did about $17.9 million in sales, up from $17 million in 2011. That type of growth landed the business on the Inc. 5000 list for the past three years.

The Sales Force: Astronomy

More than a fair amount of OPT’s business comes from amateur stargazers who will spend anywhere from a few hundred to thousands of dollars on all manner of telescopes.

Some take their hobby to levels well beyond the high powered scope on the patio, to building mini-observatories in their backyards, says Emerson.

“A nice backyard observatory can run from about $5,000 to above $10,000, Emerson said.

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