BRUNSWICK, Maine — The growth of the R.M. Beaumont Corp. into a niche market was all sort of an accident, according to its 29-year-old founder, Ryan Beaumont.
As a student at Cape Elizabeth High School, where Beaumont graduated in 2000, his first foray into the engineering world was through a self-trained hobby of using the components from obsolete computers to build more powerful ones. Along the way, he learned the basics of writing computer software.
A positive experience in high school physics and drafting classes led Beaumont to study engineering at the University of Maine, which led him to securing a master’s degree in mechanical engineering. Even before he had his degree in hand, Beaumont was working as a consultant on several projects.
Just four years out of school, Beaumont is the owner and founder of R.M. Beaumont Corp. in Brunswick. Despite never spending a dime on advertising, the firm’s workload is such that Beaumont has taken on three new employees in the past several months. He attributes his early success to two factors: his firm’s unique dual capabilities in computer programming and mechanical engineering, and being small enough to respond to clients’ needs quickly.
“All of our growth so far has been because of word-of-mouth,” said Beaumont in his company’s stately new digs in Fort Andross, a gigantic former textile manufacturing center on the Androscoggin River that is now home to dozens of small businesses. “We’ve been pretty lucky.”
Not only has work continued to come Beaumont’s way without him necessarily asking for it, but a lot of it has been on the cutting edge of green energy technology in the state. His firm has been involved in testing and development of the offshore wind turbines under development by a consortium of businesses and an experimental tidal energy project in Eastport, which is being led by Portland-based Ocean Renewable Power Co. Beaumont also has subcontracted for the paper industry in Maine and beyond, as well as a slew of other projects in various sectors.
In some cases, Beaumont is called on to research and develop structural and mechanical elements on other companies’ vast projects. In the past year or so, though, he and his three employees have spent a lot of time doing a variety of durability tests on green energy components, including a scale-model ocean-based wind turbine at a facility in the Netherlands and Ocean Renewable Power Co.’s tidal generator. In some cases — such as with the tidal generator — Beaumont and his employees have written one-of-a-kind software that helps coordinate the components of a larger mechanical system.
As it turns out, there’s a need for those kinds of specialized services. That’s good news for Beaumont who, like a lot of other college graduates, was tempted to move away to someplace such as the Gulf of Mexico, where he could have landed a job with a handsome salary in the petroleum industry.
“I was tempted to go somewhere else and say maybe I’ll retire back to Maine someday,” he said. “But my wife and I have decided that we won’t find the same quality of life anywhere else that we have in Maine.”
Beaumont’s wife, Kate, whom he met in college, is a structural engineer working at Bath Iron Works.
Maine economic development officials have long fretted over what is known as the “brain drain,” which is when promising Maine students move out of state for jobs. In recent years, as the state has maneuvered toward creating on- and offshore wind farms and other forms of green energy, the chorus for more engineers in the state has become constant.
Beaumont said that means on one hand there are few engineering jobs available in Maine, but on the other hand it means there is work available for people with the skills to perform it.
“Engineering in Maine is a very small community,” he said. “I’m trying to find a way to stay in Maine and do that here.”
Beaumont, whose business grew more than 100 percent between 2010 and 2011, said he is exploring and bidding on some new contracts, which will further diversify his clientele. If he lands that work, he said he expects to hire more employees in 2012.
“There’s another whole room behind this door,” he said, referring to an entrance to another suite beside his Fort Andross office. “Right now it’s empty, but we’d like to change that.”