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Baton Rouge to be operations home for Maine engineering technology firm

A Maine company that has developed an automated process for testing the composition of aggregates—the particulate material used in heavy construction—is relocating its operations, sales and training divisions to Baton Rouge.

Advanced Concepts and Engineering is leasing nearly 6,000 square feet on Fieldstone Drive near Industriplex Boulevard and investing some $500,000 in its new facility, which will employ more than two dozen workers and be used as the company’s international base of operations.

Company founder and CEO Joel Costonis, who will keep his corporate headquarters in Maine because he’s received economic incentives in that state, decided to move the bulk of his operations to Baton Rouge since his product—an automated, mobile testing lab about the size of a standard washing machine—has been well received by construction and engineering firms in the Capital Region.

“There are a lot of synergies between what we do and the geo engineering firms down here,” Costonis says. “There are a lot of opportunities here. We also believe it’s a good location for a national training center.”

Advanced Concepts and Engineering’s signature product is called the ACE Auto-Grade Laboratory, which seeks to streamline and improve the accuracy of aggregates testing. Aggregates—sand, gravel, crushed stone—are key components used to strengthen composite materials like concrete and asphalt used in the construction of buildings and structures. As such, they are rigorously tested and regulated.

Until Costonis’ mobile lab came along, however, such testing was done manually, which is time-consuming, expensive and prone to human error.

“If you’re following a set of testing procedures and I’m following the same set of procedures, what are the chances we’re both going to follow them the exact same way?” says Costonis, who has ties to Baton Rouge through his uncle, LSU Law Center Chancellor Emeritus John Costonis. “This machine does it automatically, which is quicker, cheaper, easier and more accurate so companies are really embracing it.”

In just a little more than one year since going commercial with the patented testing lab, Costonis’ company has inked deals with such clients as Martin Marietta, CRH, the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, and Vulcan Materials Co., the nation’s largest producer of construction aggregate. Costonis says he also has deals in the works with international entities.

“There’s no process that does this kind of testing faster or more accurately,” he says. “And it’s easy enough to use that my 12-year-old son can run the equipment.”

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