“The overwhelming achievement of MicroSun is a job creation success story for Illinois, which sadly have been far too infrequent in recent years,” Dillard said in an office press release.
The new 100,000-square-foot headquarters are located at 1200 Internationale Parkway. The company relocated from its Ohio Street industrial location in Lisle.
“MicroSun is a true Illinois start-up story,” said founder Alan ElShafei at the ceremony on Thursday, Aug. 18. “It’s a true entrepreneur’s dream.”
ElShafei was born in Lebanon, one of 10 children. His family lived in a two-bedroom condo. He came to the United States when he was 18 to study electrical engineering at the University of Illinois in Chicago. His older brother, a doctor, paid for his education.
He became a U.S. citizen in 1988. He worked for two tech companies before founding MicroSun in 2003. He was the only employee. His son, Ramsey, was its first investor, giving his $300 in life savings.
The company is now worth $38 million and employs 300 people around the world.
“I am blessed and I appreciate being here in the United States of America,” ElShafei said Thursday. “It’s the land of opportunity. It’s where I made my dream happen.”
MicroSun Technologies designs complex rechargeable batteries, chargers and accessories. They produce products for the military, medical, and commercial fields.
The battery that powers the heart pump of former Vice President Dick Cheney and a DNA device that helped discover Osama Bin Laden are two examples of the company’s products.
MicroSun encompasses two companies: MicroSun Technologies and MicroSun Electronics. MicroSun operates a manufacturing facility in southern Malaysia. MicroSun Electronics also has offices in Boulder City, Nev.
The new Woodridge facility gives the company room to expand. About 150 employees work at the corporate headquarters. MicroSun plans to double that.
“We’re a fast-growing company,” said Chuck Pokonosky, vice president of sales and marketing. “We will create more jobs to fill the facility.”
Pokonosky said MicroSun has continued to experience double-digit growth: 22 percent in 2010 and 38 percent in 2011.
ElShafei credited success during a time of economic recession to keeping faith.
“You have to have faith in yourself and your team,” he said. “Don’t let a global economic crisis stop you from accomplishing your goals.”
MicroSun redesigned the interior of the space, which previously was wall-to-wall offices and used by Argonne National Laboratory. There are now static-free labs, a workout room, common spaces for employees and larger meeting spaces.
“The opening of this facility represents a significant milestone in providing a better work environment for our associates,” ElShafei said.
MicroSun headquarters previously were located in Lisle. ElShafei said in a press release that partnerships with the state and Woodridge were “the deciding factor in choosing to stay in Illinois.”
Sen. Dillard, who spoke at Thursday’s ceremony, praised ElShafei for expanding in Illinois and employing its residents. Both Dillard and ElShafei touted Illinois’ advantages for tech companies, from close proximity to excellent engineers at the University of Illinois, Argonne National Laboratory and Fermilab, as well as hospitals and O’Hare International Airport.
ElShafei called on Illinois officials to “encourage and support companies to become like MicroSun.”
“Our community is filled with great power to make it here in the United States,” ElShafei said. “Let’s turn Illinois into the state of opportunities; the Silicon Valley of power innovations.”
Dillard said government needed to get out of companies’ way, specifically in allowing engineers and scientists to use the chemicals they wanted to.
“Illinois is a big chemical manufacturer,” Dillard said. “People get frightened by chemicals. We need to have a sound science policy to let entrepreneurs and scientists use whatever chemicals they need in manufacturing products.”
He also touched on the need for a longer school day and year for Illinois students and the need for another state math and science academy in southern Illinois.
In you’re wondering about the name, ElShafei said the idea came when brainstorming with his family. They were thinking of some word that encompassed energy. His son thought of “Sun.” ElShafei added, “Micro.”