Westminster is home to a small business making a big impact in the field of atmospheric research. Located near 120th Avenue and Huron Street, En-Sci Environmental Science has established itself as the industry standard when it comes to making instruments that can accurately and reliably collect data up to 130,000 feet above the Earth’s surface.
“We are a scientific instrumentation manufacturer,” said En-Sci owner Jonathan Harnetiaux. “We build balloon-borne instruments that measure upper atmospheric gases, in particular, ozone.”
Scientists and researchers from around the world purchase En-Sci’s products, and the data collected by En-Sci’s instruments has contributed to important research spanning decades and continues to have real-world impacts.
En-Sci’s most popular product, the ECC Ozonesonde, is a lightweight, compact instrument for measuring atmospheric ozone that was invented by renowned scientist Walter Komhyr. The instrument is revered within the scientific community. En-Sci strictly follows many of Komhyr’s original processes for producing and calibrating the ECC ozonesondes.
“When you’re in Antarctica and you’ve got to do two launches a day and you can’t see your hands in front of you, you can dropkick this thing and it’ll still work. It’s that reliable,” Harnetiaux said. “It threads the needle of accurate, cost effective, and repeatable. That’s the holy grail for the science community.”
Another interesting example of the company’s products being put to use followed the 2022 volcanic eruption in Tonga, a small island near Fiji.
“We had to scramble to get folks to Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean because there was an eruption,” he said. “Three days later we had scientists measuring the upper atmospheric conditions with our instruments to prove that volcanoes actually do throw up huge amounts of water into the atmosphere. Our instruments recorded that.”
Westminster is no stranger to the scientific community, and Harnetiaux said proximity to clients and colleagues was a key factor in his decision to move the business to Westminster when he purchased En-Sci in 2016.
“There is an advantage to being here that I’ve noticed over the years,” he said. “We’ve all found directly that a lot of scientists fly into DIA. They’re going to NOAA or the NIST complex up in Boulder. They come to Boulder to present, so being here we’ve had scientists coming by just to stop in and say ‘hi’, or to see how the instruments are made. Our door has always been open to our direct customers.”
Along with proximity, Harnetiaux said moving the business to Westminster immediately saved a significant amount of money that was previously spent on a more expensive location about 10 miles away in Boulder. The cost savings has allowed Harnetiaux to reinvest in the business, including research and development, as well as investing in his small but mighty team of five employees.
En-Sci was recently awarded a Job Training Incentive Grant by the City of Westminster, which was used to hire and train a new employee from the local talent pool.
“We are ecstatic about receiving the JTIG training funds,” Harnetiaux said. “100 percent of these funds went directly to training one of our new full-time employees. The process of applying and working with Westminster was exceptionally easy, and the grant enabled En-Sci to put more resources towards developing new products.”
En-Sci’s future in Westminster is bright, with some exciting prospects on the horizon. Harnetiaux’s team is looking into expanding from the “vertical” market of balloon-based instruments to the “horizontal” market of UAV and drone-mounted research tools.
Along the way, Harnetiaux said he looks forward to doing business in Westminster and benefiting the economy by sourcing products locally whenever possible and supporting the local restaurant industry by going out to lunch regularly with his team of self-described “foodies.”
To learn more about Westminster’s resources for small business, visit our economic development page at www.westminstereconomicdevelopment.org