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Staff photo by JAY FRIESSBill Battaglia, president and majority owner of GTMR Inc., sits in his office in Leonardtown. GTMR is one of the few defense contractors doing business in the town.
To have close proximity to their Navy clients, most contractors in St. Mary's County locate their offices in the usual spots — Lexington Park, California, Hollywood and, when absolutely necessary, St. Inigoes.
But for GTMR Inc., Leonardtown is the ideal, if atypical, location of choice.
For the last year and a half, GTMR president and majority owner Bill Battaglia has been based in the county seat, positioning both his offices and his business roughly halfway between Patuxent River Naval Air Station and the Dahlgren Naval Support Facility in Virginia.
"Timewise, this is a good split," Battaglia said, noting that, with St. Mary's County traffic, it takes him a half hour to get to either base. And he says Leonardtown has a more relaxed atmosphere.
"I like Leonardtown," Battaglia said. "It's a great place to do business. … There's plenty of good places to eat and take clients. It's nice and it's different."
Leonardtown Administrator Laschelle McKay said she has heard of other contractors expressing interest in the town's office space, but nothing solid has yet emerged. "I think they are probably one of the first ones to come here," McKay said of GTMR. She said she believes that, given the town's amenities and proximity to Dahlgren, others will follow.
"It's just getting more and more convenient," McKay said. "I think it will be more and more prevalent as time goes on."
The Battaglia family has had business roots in Leonardtown since 1999, when Battaglia's daughter, Maria Perrygo, opened the Do Dah Deli on the square. Until this year when the deli closed, Battaglia worked only a few hundred feet from its last location in the Breton Marketplace.
Whereas his daughter made sandwiches, Battaglia makes antennas and other sensors. With clients like the Navy's unmanned aerial vehicle programs, the National Security Administration and the Department of Homeland security, Battaglia is hesitant to describe exactly what his company does, since a lot of it is top secret.
"We're in the surveillance business," Battaglia said, adding that GTMR both designs and manufactures sensors. "There aren't a whole lot of companies that do both. … We're a niche company. Our main thrust is technical."
Battaglia showed off a few of the antennas and sensors his company has redesigned to fit on in the small cargo holds of UAVs.
"The general public sometimes doesn't have an appreciation for the difficulty of some of these engineering problems the government has to solve," Battaglia said.
Battaglia said he is looking to expand his operation, and he believes the current contracting atmosphere favors small companies like his own. He said his company currently employs 32 people in 11 states and is on track to take in $7 million in 2011. It currently partners with larger companies like Sabre, AT&T, Compass, Quanta and Chenega Federal Systems, he said.
"We're looking to grow," Battaglia said. "We think small business is in a unique opportunity now."
The company currently makes charitable donations to a variety of local groups, including the Calvert Marine Museum, Greenwell State Park and the Charlotte Hall Veterans Home, but Battaglia would like his business to eventually function as a manufacturing work opportunity for injured veterans.
"The long-range goal of this company is to expand and provide jobs for veterans who were not as fortunate," Battaglia said. He noted that the men who train for infantry and get injured in battle don't have an easy way to transition into the workforce. "They're always the guys after every war that get forgotten."