Five-year-old, Happy Valley-based Warlowe is owned by Chris Wharton and Zack Lowe, two electrical engineers who met on the job and saw a need in the local market for individualized electrical engineering expertise. 

“Many companies don’t have the budget to have a full engineering team on staff,” Wharton said. “We wanted to fill in those gaps.” 

They started Warlowe as a side hustle. Lowe stayed on at his full-time job and worked at Warlowe on evenings and weekends and Wharton divided his time between the new startup and flipping houses. Over the next few years, the business grew into a full-time venture. Along the way, it added new employees PCB designer Dan LeCouvre and office administrator Heather Lowe to their team. 

Their secret sauce? “It’s no big secret,” Wharton said. “Our firm is very heavy on review before the design goes out for fabrication. We try to get it right the first time by spending more time upfront.” Warlowe’s rigorous analysis means that “designs require very few changes before they move into production,” he noted.

Warlowe works with companies in varied fields: aerospace, remote sensing, solar power, medical equipment, automotive and manufacturing automation, to name a few. They take concepts that innovate or accelerate clients’ businesses, and turn those concepts into reality, on a budget. 

Take Homeland Manufacturing, for instance. The Bellefonte-based company is Warlowe’s manufacturing partner, turning designs into manufactured solutions. And Warlowe helps Homeland accelerate throughput. 

Homeland produces thousands of units at a time. In many cases, these units need to be validated before they’re shipped. Many projects use Warlowe automation hardware + software to rapidly test and verify units, providing a simple pass/fail. “Our solutions are able to test their products much faster than a human could iterate,” Wharton said. “The bottleneck is usually verification testing. We help to alleviate that and ensure boards are shipped in proper working order.”

Warlowe is turning factories into smart factories one rigorously-tested design at a time, and the duo says there’s no better moment than now, as the global pandemic continues to highlight the need for manufacturers to sense—and even predict—disruptions, and to make decisions in real-time. “Smart industry is where this is all going,” Wharton said. “And the benefits are enormous. You’re getting smart diagnostics, databases [and] throughput.”

When it comes to Industry 4.0, Wharton’s advice is to start small. And, considering his successful pivot of taking his side hustle to a full-time gig, his advice is worth a listen. “You don’t have to do everything at once. You don’t have to automate every single thing in one fell swoop. Start at your pain points and fix them first. Improve over time and you’ll get there.”

In the meantime, Warlowe is taking that advice itself, growing at a sustained and controlled rate, obsessing over the details and helping businesses make the step from industry to Industry 4.0.