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Bay Times and Record Observer: Franchot highlights business diversity

STEVENSVILLE — State Comptroller Peter Franchot visited a pair of Eastern Shore businesses Thursday, Aug. 1, to underscore the need for a diverse business portfolio across Maryland.

During his first stop at TechOps Specialty Vehicles in Stevensville, Franchot toured the plant as employees retrofitted vehicles with operation-specific technology like computer command centers, high definition televisions and the latest in radio communications technology.

He continued his visit at the Sudlersville Community Laundromat to see the efforts of the Sudlersville Volunteer Fire Department in establishing a location complete with laundry services and wireless internet care of Atlantic Broadband for area students.

“These are innovative manufacturing companies, and the sky is the limit on their growth,” said Franchot. “It’s tax revenue for the state, and it’s the genius of the private sector to adjust to whatever local needs are. I think federal, state and local officials would be well-served to help companies like these grow more.”

For companies like TechOps Specialty Vehicles, that innovation includes consulting with clients from across the region in law enforcement and other first responders to develop tools for specific vehicles.

Franchot noted he was impressed by the ability of the company to fill the positions for skilled workers and their role in serving a growing number of clients.

“We’re here and wide open for business and ready to build vehicles for the men and women who protect this country, state and county,” said William Krampf, director of business development for TechOps. “We do a great job with specialty vehicles from up-fits to complete builds. We’re so excited that we’re getting looks from out elected officials because this work matters. Our employees are craftsmen and professionals and specialists in their fields that keep up with their industry.”

Krampf said that working with the end-user means having them in the workshop and having an open dialogue to ensure a satisfactory end product.

The Sudlersville Community Laundromat established at the former Sudlersville Middle School. It was set up in response to some teachers washing their students’ clothes since their families lacked the resources to do so.

The facility also has a room for students to use the wireless internet for school work while their parents wash clothes.

“It feels good that all the hard work is paying off and we’re providing the services we wanted to provide,” said Bill Faust, president of the Sudlersville Volunteer Fire Company. “That’s what we want this building to be about and being a volunteer, we do everything we can. Right now we’re a laundromat, but we want to keep growing.”

Faust touted the internet as a key resource as more schools moved to the use of tablets in lieu of books.

Bernard Hazelwood, general manager for Atlantic Broadband in the Maryland and Delaware Region, said the process to make internet a reality in the northern part of the county comes with challenges like infrastructure demands and population density considerations.

“We get the request for service and then we have to do the survey and engineering and work out a cost for the actual build itself. Then we present it to our board to see if we’re going to pursue it. Once we build a network, we’re constantly looking at the latest technology to see any needed upgrades,” said Hazelwood.

Currently, Queen Anne’s County is undergoing an upgrade in some areas to accommodate greater usage and higher upload and download speeds.

The laundromat also will house books for the Maryland Literacy Council, a part of the Little Free Library program, that will stay stocked with free books to be kept or borrowed and returned.

The Sudlersville Community Laundromat is open daily from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. and is located at 201 North Church St.

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