Balancing family life while owning and operating a small business can be challenging; doing them simultaneously requires a special commitment and dedication. That is why the Small Business Administration (SBA) has special recognition each year honoring successful family owned small businesses throughout New England. The Jeffrey Butland Family Owned Business of the Year award, named after a past SBA Regional Administrator who implemented the award, recognizes a small business with at least a 15-year track record that has passed ownership from one generation to another. Greta Johansson, SBA District Director, comments, “This award is special to the SBA team in New England; we are pleased to recognize Micro-Precision in this category as they exemplify the true essence that Jeff Butland had in mind when he initiated this award.”
Micro Precision Technologies (MPT) was founded in 1987 as a contract manufacturer of micro-circuits, thick-film ceramic substrates and hybrid components for environmentally rugged conditions for the military, industrial and commercial applications. The original owners, Dr. Etang and Chris Chen, ran MPT for thirty years on hard work, hope, and determination. As they approached retirement age, they encouraged their daughter, Sabina Chen, to join their team as the Director of Business Development. Sabina held this position from 2012 to 2017, until she purchased the company from her parents with her husband, Blake Clark.
“My parents were immigrants from Taiwan and this company was their American Dream. They toiled and fretted, working weekends and nights, for 30 years,” said Sabina Chen. “My father liked to call MPT a Mom & Pop shop for micro-circuit manufacturing. They took great pride in the quality of MPT’s work. It was important for them to see it continue.”
Micro-Precision Technologies is one of the few companies its size to be qualified by the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency to manufacturer hybrid micro-circuits to the MIL-PRF 38534 standard. MPT is also certified ISO 9001:2015 and ITAR compliant.
Prior to purchasing MPT from her parents, Sabina participated in the SBA’s Emerging Leaders Program. During the seven months she participated in this program, Sabina worked on developing a three-year strategic growth plan for her business while also forming a network of her peers and learning about available business resources. It was during this class that she learned about the NH Small Business Development Center and met business advisor, Amy Rodman. Amy assisted Sabina in structuring the buyout, which consisted of both the going concern and real estate in which MPT operates. Amy also connected Sabina to Enterprise Bank in Salem, which has provided generous support to MPT and other locally-owned small businesses in the Merrimack Valley. Bill Collins, Enterprise Bank, nominated MPT for this award and stated, “Sabina made the ownership transition appear seamless; during its first year of new ownership, the company is having one of its best years ever.”
In 2018, Micro-Precision Technologies posted sales of $2.6 million, the highest annual sales in its history. In addition to long-standing markets of defense and legacy components, MPT has also expanded into solar, LED, and green energy arenas. The company currently employs 13 people. Sabina credits a talented and capable staff at MPT for growing the business and continuing her family’s legacy. “I am grateful for our staff for what is truly a team effort. Some of our employees have been with MPT for many years and they’re like family.”
MPT gives back through annual charitable donations that are employee-advised. Through this program, MPT has supported organizations such as the Nashua Soup Kitchen, New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, Special Olympics, Disabled American Veterans Charitable Service Trust, Clean Energy NH, New Hampshire Public Radio and Friends of the Library in Pelham.
Residents of Pelham, Sabina and her husband, Blake Clark, have two children, Milo (age 9) and Jubilee (age 4). They are active in supporting Pelham Public Schools, Pelham Community Theater and Pelham Parks & Recreation. Sabina serves as chair of the town Democratic Committee. Blake serves on the town Planning Board.
Sabina’s father, Dr. Etang Chen, passed away in February 2018. “I’m sad my father is not here to see us win this award, though I know he’d be proud of what we’ve accomplished at MPT,” said Sabina. “Small businesses and immigrant grit are the lifeblood of America. We are honored to be recognized with this award.”