Riding the wave of technology that didn’t exist a decade ago, a startup company once crammed into a business incubator on the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology campus formally christened a new 18,000-square-foot office and manufacturing plant with a ribbon-cutting and open house Tuesday.
The company, B9 Creations, manufacturers and markets 3-Dimensional printers for use in medical, dental and manufacturing applications including, CEO Shon Anderson said, the world’s only 3D printer that meets medical device standards.
Former Ellsworth Air Force Base B-1B bomber pilot Mike Joyce started the company in 2011, when 3D computer printing technology was little more than a concept.
In 2014, Joyce and Chief Operating Officer Scott Reisenauer leased fewer than 2,000 square feet of space at what was then the Black Hills Business Development Center, an incubator for tech-related companies spawned through the School of Mines, Black Hills State University and Western Dakota Technical Institute.
From there, B9 Creations continued to grow, eventually adding more space at the Business Development Center, now called the Ascent Innovation Center, before moving into its new space on Plant Street off of Deadwood Ave.
The company joins VRC Metal Systems, another Business Development Center startup venture that has expanded after development through the Ascent Innovation Center.
VRC recently moved to renovated facilities near Ellsworth Air Force Base, where its cold-spray metal technology is used on aircraft components.
Anderson thanked city and state leaders, economic development and education officials, customers and employees during the ribbon-cutting ceremony on an unseasonably warm January morning.
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“All of you have had a hand to play in what has been a textbook startup at the Ascent Innovations campus at the School of Mines to where we are today,” he said.
B9 Creations now employs 30 sales, marketing, accounting and manufacturing employees as well as engineers at the Plant Street location, formerly office space owned by Black Hills Energy before its consolidation to its new corporate headquarters at Horizon Point in south Rapid City.
The move came about, Anderson said, with the cooperation of Black Hills Works and the Black Hills Works Foundation, which uses the second floor of the building.
Anderson said B9 Creations serves customers in 66 countries and has become FedEx’s largest international exporter from the West River, earning the company the Small Business Administration’s 2018 Regional Exporter of the Year for South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Colorado, Wyoming and Utah.
“And we managed to do that without a loading dock,” Anderson joked. “Imagine that, 66 countries around the world and no loading dock.”
Ascent Innovation Center Executive Director Terri Haverly said Joyce originally leased an 1,875-square-foot space at the center in April of 2014.
By November of that year, he had moved the company to a 3,100-square-foot space, then needed to add the original 1,875 space “before the ink was even dry” on the new lease, she said.
“Today, I want to say thank you to Mike Joyce for the paperwork nightmare that you’ve created, but we got it all done and look at what is going on now,” Haverly said.