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Danbury manufacturer unveils plan for Brookfield move

January 26, 2019

Branson Ultrasonics is moving ahead with plans to relocate its Danbury headquarters plant into Brookfield’s corner of the sprawling Berkshire Corporate Park.

Architectural firms in Stamford and Norwalk laid out their construction sequence plans this week to town officials.

Owned by St. Louis, Mo.-based Emerson Electric, Branson Ultrasonics makes precision custom welding machines for any number of components, applying a range of techniques from lasers to vibration welding that can precisely join parts through heating and friction.

Branson Ultrasonics is one of more than three dozen companies producing such equipment including Rinco Ultrasonics in Danbury and Sonics & Materials in Newtown.

With plans to employ 220 people at its new Brookfield headquarters, Branson Ultrasonics would join the semiconductor equipment maker Photronics as the largest manufacturing company within the town’s borders.

At Berkshire Corporate Park, Branson Ultrasonics is constructing a new facility designed by Stamford-based CPG Architects on 13 acres of land, with Environmental Land Solutions in Norwalk handling the landscaping design.

The headquarters will total more than 140,000 square feet of space, with Branson Ultrasonics currently sharing a half-century-old building on Eagle Road with multiple other companies including the Dere Street commercial dessert bakery, Alphagraphics and Spectral Systems.

Through the Connecticut Innovations business assistance fund, the state has approved Branson Ultrasonics for $1.4 million in sales tax exemptions for purchases supporting the move to Berkshire Corporate Park, where the industrial gases giant Praxair has its headquarters and Duracell its main research and development lab.

An Emerson spokesperson declined comment on whether Branson Ultrasonics considered other locations in Danbury, southwestern Connecticut or elsewhere, in response to a Hearst Connecticut Media query.

Emerson acquired Branson Ultrasonics in 1984 as part of a larger deal for SmithKline Beckman.

Branson Ultrasonics has been led since early 2017 by John Meek, who previously was in charge of Emerson’s ASCO fluid valve division in Florham Park, N.J.

Emerson does not break out Branson Ultrasonics results separate from its own, with the automation division that includes the unit producing a 24 percent increase in earnings for Emerson’s 2018 fiscal year that ended in September, to $1.9 billion, with revenue up 21 percent to $11.4 billion.

In October, Emerson added to its welding systems lineup with the acquisition of Ireland-based HTE Engineering Services, which makes machines that use a process called heat staking to fuse plastic parts with other materials.

Speaking to investment analysts in November, Emerson CEO David Farr said his company’s automation division has been seeing an impact from the ongoing trade dispute between China and the United States.

“Right now, if the China thing was moving toward a resolution, I would sit here and tell you today that we are going to have a strong ... year in China,” Farr said. “They can come back and maybe come after companies like Emerson. If the tension continues to ramp up between the two countries — I don’t feel that at a point in time, but I would be foolish not to be concerned about that.”

Alex.Soule@scni.com; 203-842-2545; @casoulman

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