Local companies relocating to bigger spaces in Goleta

Seek Thermal was getting too big for its britches at its former headquarters just off Calle Real in Goleta, so the company recently sized up to 10,000-plus square feet of space at 111 Castilian Drive.
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The company, which makes thermal imaging devices for the consumer market, is effectively doubling its footprint in its move from the Los Carneros Business Park.

The company will share the same building with UC Santa Barbara energy-efficiency spinout Transform and joins the area’s growing tech corridor.

Seek Thermal’s iPhone camera attachment pits the firm in a heated battle, no pun intended, with competitor FLIR Systems to be the leader in the market for such devices.

Seek Thermal’s camera is going head-to-head against the Flir One, a product also conceived and designed in Goleta that wraps around a phone like a case. Flir released its $349 camera in July and it is now sold in Apple stores and online.

Bill Parrish and Tim Fitzgibbons founded what is now Seek Thermal in 2012 with plans to commercialize the technology advances made at Raytheon Vision Systems, coupled with the chip manufacturing prowess of Freescale Semiconductor, the large chipmaking firm spun out of Motorola.

The pair has been involved in some of the most prominent infrared sensor companies in Goleta over several decades, including Indigo Systems, which was sold to Flir in 2004 for $185 million.
There was a legal battle between the pair and Flir as they worked to start their new business. Parrish and Fitzgibbons were eventually awarded a $39 million settlement against Flir.

Robert Acker, CEO and president of Seek Thermal, previously told the Business Times that smartphones have unlocked the huge potential of thermal sensors.

The company’s new office and R&D facility was previously occupied by Isolite Systems. Five years earlier, the building’s owner gutted and remodeled the property.

“The space was quickly leased due to its unique combination of office and production space,” said Greg Bartholomew, broker at Hayes Commercial Group, who represented Seek Thermal in the deal.

The new facility will house Seek Thermal’s expanding product development, marketing, administrative and manufacturing functions.

“Most of the recent office leasing activity in Goleta has been the result of re-sizing and relocation by local companies, rather than new companies entering the market,” Bartholomew said. “This move by Seek Thermal fits that trend.”