Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman made a stop at Richards on Massirio Drive in Berlin on Thursday to check out the high-tech, precision machine shop, principally providing replacement components for Sikorsky helicopters.
Wyman has a vested interest in Richards — a business that also does components for special forces weapons, although no products sold at retail — as the company has participated and been the beneficiary of the state-funded Small Business Express (EXP) funding for women-owned businesses.
Lillian Batkowicz, Dorothy Weber and Thomas and Ashley Bartkowicz are the principal owners of the shop, handed down from their father. The business was opened in 1978 in New Britain on Ellis Street and moved to Berlin in 1984.
"It's a very exciting time for us," Lillian Bartkowicz said. "To have Nancy Wyman come here to visit us just shows us that the state is interested in helping small businesses. The town has also been very helpful to us and we are looking to expand because we are very busy and we have outgrown our current location.
Richards received$130,000 in a job creation loan and $70,000 in a matching grant. With that, two new jobs were created and 12 jobs were retained, Wyman's office said.
Wyman highlighted the success of Richards and wants the business community to know that the Governor’s proposed budget contains $50 million for EXP each of the next two years.
"We applied for the grants and were awarded them and will continue to apply for more grants so that we can become an even better partner to the Town of Berlin," Lillian Bartkowicz said. "The future looks very positive and it is exciting what is going on here. Many of our workers are from Berlin or at least the local area and we will likely have to add jobs and positions as we grow and expand."
Bartkowicz said when she first began working at Richards it was a very different atmosphere.
"It was definitely a man's world when I started," she said with a large smile on her face. "Times have changed a lot. You are seeing many more girls and young women graduate with degrees in engineering and manufacturing and it is great to see."