Science from space Featured

8:00pm EDT June 25, 2010
Finalist
Energy

After a failed mission to Mars in 1999, what was a group of scientists to do with its invention — a technology that monitored moisture and other conditions in extreme environments?

Enter George Balogh. He’d worked in corporate finance in large corporations, and never considered himself an entrepreneur. But when he saw an opportunity to carve out a new path, he took it. And he translated the group’s technology into a sustainable business plan, ultimately adapting SpectraSensors Inc. for the oil and gas industry.

His objective wasn’t financial gain. Instead, Balogh, CEO, was interested in the technological advancement of hydrocarbon transportation and processing, as well as seeing the unique technology applied in other industries.

But his efforts brought challenges. Once he convinced the original inventors to abandon their broadband effort for the telecommunications boom in the late 1990s and refocus on trace gas monitoring, he worked with an incubator in Los Angeles to develop a pitch for potential customers. Balogh worked without a salary for six months while they shopped the idea around.

When AMETEK acquired one of the company’s customers, it also offered to acquire SpectraSensors. Balogh refused because he believed in its product. AMETEK tried to shut it down when it refused the takeover offer.

When that issue settled, Balogh met another challenge. The company was rooted in California, but he knew that to be in the gas and oil industry, it needed a presence in Houston. So he left his technical team in California and moved to Texas, where he hired a sales team. Now, the two parts of the company collaborate regularly via teleconference.

How to reach: SpectraSensors Inc., (713) 300-2700 or www.spectrasensors.com