Brothers Michael and Geoff Howe, owners of Howe and Howe Technologies announced they have agreed to sell their business to Textron Systems. Michael Howe said the company intends to expand in Waterboro. The brothers are shown here atop their Bulldog fire truck  during an open house at their Waterboro headquarters in October 2017. TAMMY WELLS/Journal Tribune

WATERBORO — Howe and Howe Technologies of Waterboro, the company that designed and developed the Ripsaw unmanned tracked vehicle and an array of others in its 14-year history is being sold to Rhode Island-based Textron Systems, considered a world leader in unmanned air, surface and land products.

Textron Systems, part of of Textron Inc., has entered into a letter of intent to purchase the Waterboro company started by Michael and Geoff Howe in 2004.

Howe and Howe Technologies President Michael Howe said the news is good.

Howe and Howe Technologies. which developed the Ripsaw unmanned tank, shown here, has entered into a sales agreement with Textron Systems. and plans to expand . COURTESY PHOTO

“This is great news for Maine and for Waterboro,” said Howe in a telephone interview Thursday afternoon. ”We’re keeping the facility here, expanding, and the focus will be on research and development for robotic platforms for the U.S. military.”

Howe and Howe Technologies currently employs 50 people at their facility on Route 202. The company is known for a myriad of unmanned tracked vehicles, innovative Bulldog fire trucks, Thermite firefighting robots, and a unit used in police standoffs, called the Swatbot, which can be operated remotely or used to shield law enforcement personnel during a standoff.

“Textron is buying and going to be infusing money and assets into our current facility to advance our innovation capabilities and push us even further into the future with military contracts,” said Howe.

Textron Inc., the parent company of Textron Systems, is known around the world for its brands such as Bell, Cessna, Beechcraft, Hawker, Jacobsen, Kautex, Lycoming, E-Z-GO, Textron Off Road, Arctic Cat, Textron Systems, and TRU Simulation + Training.

The Howe brothers, who hail from North Berwick, began tinkering at an early age. Geoff attended the University of Maine for two years before deciding college wasn’t for him and began working in a water treatment plant. Michael went on to Bowdoin College and worked as a financial adviser by day. The brothers developed the first Ripsaw, along with other vehicles, at night.

In 2006, the two opened a shop in an Eliot business park, and announced a move to Waterboro in 2009.

Along the way, they’ve developed new, extreme machines, appeared in a couple of movies and starred in a Discovery Channel series called ‘Black Ops Brothers.’

While Michael is company president, his brother Geoff is CEO. They’re to retain their current positions after the sale, which is expected to close in November or late December.

“Our focus will be on research and development for future unmanned, land-based robotics systems,” said Howe.

Textron Systems President and CEO Lisa Atherton said Howe and Howe’s advanced robotic ground vehicle solutions and applications are a natural fit.

“Textron Systems has delivered unmanned platforms, control systems and a full range of operations and support services for more than one million operational hours,” she said in a news release announcing the planned purchase of Howe and Howe Technologies. She said Textron’s Commando land vehicles are utilized around the world.

“Howe and Howe are the original disruptors in the advanced robotic vehicle space, bringing customers the capability they need in a small, fast and mobile footprint to support their critical missions,” said Atherton. “We are clear on the U.S. military’s vision and their future technology needs for autonomy, robotics and unmanned systems. This planned acquisition demonstrates our commitment to our U.S. military customers and an understanding of their critical work. Not just anyone can build these vehicles. “

Waterboro Town Administrator Gary Lamb said he’s thrilled the company is intends to stay and expand in Waterboro.

“It’s great for economic development and for jobs which we sorely need,” Lamb said.

“Textron is a good fit,” said Michael Howe. “They really wanted us and they really wanted the technology and they’re willing to help us grow our business and that is what Geoff and I care about.”

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 780-9016 or [email protected]

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