The world of technology and innovation is about turning product ideas into product realities. For the companies and clients that engage in such endeavors, the ideas for these products remain in the “idea stage” until the right team can help bring those concepts to life. Once this happens, the dream comes to fruition, and sometimes the final product exceeds what the creators had in mind. For Jason Petro and his company, Up-Rev, this transformational process is the motivating factor in the daily work of an engineer.
Up-Rev is an engineering company that features a staff experienced in multiple marketplaces, including defense, medical devices, wireless communications, automotive, marine and IoT wearables. Its mission statement is “To enable our customers to see their ideas come to life and impact the world.”
For Up-Rev’s president and CEO, Jason Petro, the company is the result of a lifelong engineering passion. Growing up in Brevard County, Petro comes from a family of engineers. His grandfather was deputy director of Launch Operations at Kennedy Space Center during the Mercury and Apollo programs, and his father was a senior engineer during the Space Shuttle program and is still actively involved in the space program in Huntsville, Ala. His aunt, Janet, is the deputy director of KSC, an accomplished engineer and one of the first women to graduate West Point.
Building the Right Environment
A few years after graduating from the University of Florida with a bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering and Electrical Engineering, Petro started at Soneticom, a product development company. He was with the company for 12 years, working his way up and becoming a shareholder. After the company was sold to a large defense contractor, he used the money to open Up-Rev in 2011. Petro was also able to bring in people he worked with at Soneticom who left after the sale, providing the family atmosphere he looked for, which now includes 15 employees and growing. Based on his work experience, Petro was able to determine what kind of work environment best suited him.
“I worked at larger companies before, and I didn’t last very long because I felt like another number,” he said. “When I went to Soneticom, it had a good family feel; I got to know everyone and it made work fun. So one of my big goals was to be successful in what we do, but also surround myself with people I want to be with.”
While Petro is running his own company now, he credits the owners at his previous company as being mentors who provided key advice, such as managing situations with both people and projects. Their support was vital to Petro in his entrepreneurial journey.
“I always wanted to be an engineer and start my own business, so I was lucky for the experience I had at my previous job; I was always transparent with the owners,” he said. “They were super supportive, and I can’t thank them enough.”
“Ideas are only good if you do something with them.” – Jason Petro
“Everyone who’s ever taken a shower has an idea. It’s the person who gets out of the shower, dries off and does something about it who makes a difference.” – Nolan Bushnell
In the engineering field, trial and error is common, as was the case in Petro’s engineering and business experience. Prior to starting Up-Rev, he participated in martial arts and created a heavy bag wrap, a vinyl piece that went around the bag and had targets that lit up. While he sold a few hundred of the product, he did not reach his sales goals because he was not sure how to reach out in that market and get the product information to potential customers. Through that experience, Petro learned to use his engineering skills and networking abilities with other companies to create more effective marketing plans. Today, that understanding allows Up-Rev to make successful products for clients through a variety of markets.
Work and Rewards
Throughout Petro’s history with Up-Rev, one of the biggest rewards has been the work done with GlobeChek, a Vero Beach eye care company providing mobile eye screening exams.
Up-Rev created a spherical kiosk for the company that allows people to get an eye test at the kiosk and have their data sent to a reading center, where they are referred to a doctor in the area.
The positive reactions to the products created are the most fulfilling aspect of what Petro does. When clients enter Up-Rev, they may have a certain idea of what the product may look like, but as was the case with the doctors at GlobeChek, the reactions to the physical product are often memorable for everyone involved.
“When they walked though the front door, I had a cover over the concept product. When we took the cover off, the looks on their faces were priceless,” he said. “This represented 10 months of work for us, so having the team in there and seeing the reactions of the clients was the most rewarding part of the job.”
In the future, Up-Rev has plans to expand its brand statewide and nationally and would also like to work with Kennedy Space Center in the commercialization of its facility and spaceport. The company also looks to maintain its engineering market versatility, something, along with word of mouth, that helped the company grow to where it is today. For Petro, no matter the sector, he is driven by a desire to help companies achieve — and exceed — their goals through engineering products that go from vision to life-changing works.
“Our team is super passionate about it,” he said. “Ideas are only good if you do something with them. It could be great, but until you do something with it, how is anybody going to know about it? We want to follow through with our mission statement of bringing things to life.”