Where Are They Now?: INIT
Chesapeake-Based INIT is Growing and Driving the World Forward with Smart Technology
Every day in major US and world cities, public transportation systems shuttle millions of people to and from their destinations. Much of the technology that makes it possible is produced by German-based INIT, which has maintained its North American headquarters in the Greenbrier section of Chesapeake since 1999.
INIT (short for “Innovations in Transportation”) is the leading supplier of integrated planning, dispatching, telematics and ticketing systems for buses and trains. You can see evidence of INIT’s work when an automated voice announces an upcoming stop or a fare automatically deducts from an account with the swipe a bus pass. Cities like New York City, Portland, Dubai, Stockholm, and, yes, Hampton Roads (the Tide light rail system) have INIT technology either in place or on the way.
INIT President Roland Staib stands proudly in the company's Chesapeake manufacturing facility.
In the late 1990s, when INIT was seeking a North American office location, the Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance (The Alliance) played a key role. INIT leadership wanted a city along the East Coast so the time zone was as close as possible to its home office in Germany.
A business consultant in Germany connected INIT with economic development departments in Fairfax County and Hampton Roads. INIT found Fairfax County to be a bit too expensive and congested. Conversely, they felt Hampton Roads had the right business climate and quality of life. The company worked with Chesapeake Economic Development to locate space in the city’s Greenbrier area. With two US-based staff, INIT launched its North American office.
President Roland Staib, one of those original two employees who was involved in the selection, believes The Alliance was critical in the expansion.
“Without The Alliance, we wouldn’t be in Chesapeake,” said Staib. “Their team did a great job showing us the area and making us comfortable with the decision.”
The Alliance also introduced INIT to other international businesses with a presence in Hampton Roads and connected the firm with attorneys, and commercial and residential real estate agents to become acquainted with the community.
Roland Staib and Alliance President and CEO Rick Weddle look over a piece of INIT's latest technology.
Today INIT, which has moved twice to larger quarters and grown to 70 employees (50 in the main office and 20 in manufacturing), is a proud member of the Hampton Roads business community. Indeed, the company loves its new home so much that in May, Staib announced plans to expand again in Greenbrier to a 70,000 square foot headquarters -- 20,000 square feet of office space, 30,000 square feet of warehouse space and 20,000 square feet of space dedicated to the company’s two manufacturing firms, TQA and SQM.
“I’m thrilled at INIT’s growth in Hampton Roads over the past 17 years,” said Rick Weddle, president and CEO of The Alliance. “INIT is a classic example of the kind of business we like to attract. The company settled in Hampton Roads with potential to develop a larger footprint. And that’s exactly what happened.”
INIT’s roots trace back to the college campus. Many of the company’s earliest employees, including Staib, began as interns who put in their hours between classes.
Today, Staib carries on the legacy, offering internships to a steady pipeline of students from local colleges like Old Dominion University. Ryan Mackem, who graduated in spring 2016 from ODU and had interned for INIT for 18 months, now works in the sales and proposal management division. “I would go to class on Monday and on Tuesday, I’d come to INIT where I could immediately apply the skills I learned in class,” said Mackem. “It was an invaluable education and gave me an edge in the job market.”
“One of the reasons we decided on Hampton Roads is the quality of the college graduates and skilled military workforce,” said Staib. “Ryan is a great example of the caliber of the people we look to hire.”
So the next time you board a bus or train and experience the efficiency of automated technology, there’s a good chance INIT, a German company that The Alliance and Chesapeake Economic Development teamed up to recruit to Hampton Roads, was behind it.