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Craig Hartzell

Business veteran salutes state’s work ethic 


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Azimuth Inc. designs and builds specialty computer and communications systems, much of it for defense applications in the United States and abroad. Azimuth’s work has to be able to survive shocks, vibrations and other severe conditions.

“We’re very good at what I call real engineering work,” said Craig Hartzell, CEO of Azimuth. “I mean the hard stuff: engineering to the component level, custom circuit cards, custom software. We recruit top quality people because the type of work we do is attractive to good engineers who want to actually build something, whether it is hardware, software or a combination.”

Azimuth has been headquartered in Morgantown since it opened in 1989. Today, the firm has offices in Westover, White Hall and Fairmont. Azimuth also operates a facility in Gallagher for the West Virginia National Guard.

“West Virginia is a great place to own and operate a small business,” Hartzell said. “The real advantage here is the work ethic and the level of talent that we’ve recruited. In our line of work — in engineering — it always comes down to quality of people. A building’s a building — but the people in the building; that’s our strength.”

Azimuth finds advantages to being a small business in West Virginia. Its size lets the company move fast and make quick decisions.

Universities, agencies and governmental leaders are approachable and supportive of small businesses in West Virginia, he said.

“We’ve had support from every governor, without exception, since we founded the company,” he said. “When the governor of the state is in your small business, when the governor of the state you’re operating in knows you, knows your business, knows you personally, knows people in your company, it’s very positive. Knowing that you have governors and elected officials that will support business in the state is a bit of a comfort level for me as a business owner. It’s comforting to know that you have state government that’s behind you if needed.”

The Governor’s Guaranteed WorkForce program has helped Azimuth stay competitive.

“We converted to 3-D CAD many years ago, ahead of the wave,” Hartzell said. “We requested assistance with the cost of software and the training. That was one instance where it allowed us to make the decision to go to the higher end design approach — ahead of many of our competitors.”

West Virginia allows companies such as Azimuth to start up, survive, grow and become strong, he said. “Like a lot of West Virginia companies, we perform. Over time, that reputation for performance pays off.”

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