group logo

Industrial Robotics Startup Opens in Roseburg

7:31 PM · Oct 15, 2022

The robotics industry is not just for the ultra-urban or highly-industrialized cities, it is happening here in Roseburg at 7robotics. 7robotics is an “integrator” company that buys robots and makes them work for specific applications at companies around the world, primarily in North America. It was officially founded in 2019 and Business Director, Joey Koenig moved to Roseburg to join the team. The business moved into an old machine shop in May and celebrated their work at an open house in September. “I left a job in Texas because I felt this idea was pretty compelling,” Koenig said. “We definitely have a good team. Some of the engineers came from Con-Vey and we’ve hired some new ones, and they all work here. Our role, what we are classified as, is a robotics integrator. Integrator means we make the robots work within a larger system. We’ll build it and do all the safety around it. The robot is the main part, but it’s a system and we make it all work together.” At the open house, all of the 7robotics employees, all seven of them, wore bright orange Hawaiian shirts, the same orange as the big number seven on the front of the building. The shirts make them recognizable while also reflecting the fun work environment they have created. The company was a vision of sister company, Con-Vey, Chief Executive Officer, Dave Larecy. Con-Vey creates machines primarily for wood product companies all over the world and did some robotics, but Larecy believed there was enough need for robotics to create a separate company. “We’ve been planning on doing this for a number of years. We’ve done robotics within Con-Vey but I was always planning on taking it as a separate entity. Our plan is actually to grow this as its own business, separate from Con-Vey. Secondary wood industry is what we do a lot of, but the idea was to get outside of the wood industry and do other things, so we’re doing things in agricultural, packaging, food and beverage, you name it. So that’s the whole idea of the 7 was to get away from Con-Vey’s umbrella a little bit, and have their own identity and grow that.” To justify branching off, Larecy needed to know they had the expertise, and that’s where Roseburg native Zach Alliman came in. Alliman was born in Roseburg, is raising his family here, worked at Con-Vey for over a decade, and has 11 years of experience in robotics. “In order to make 7 successful, we had to have the team and the idea and the vision,” Alliman said. “You really have to have the technical knowledge to make it, so that was part of what I offered to the team, is, how do you solve these problems, how do you provide a solution to a customer maybe where the technology is just breaking through and is not really a technology yet. Those are the types of things I enjoy doing.” The robots 7robotics is building are not house maids like in The Jetsons or C3PO from Star Wars. “Our applications are a little bit more industrial, down to earth, kind of like what Roseburg is used to - the mill environment or machining environments, things like that,” Alliman said. “That’s what we do, that’s what we’re helping solve, those little projects close to home. We like to do applications where it’s a safety hazard or it can’t be tackled by a person. We do a lot of heavy lifting, these robots. You can’t handle a 300 pound piece of machinery with a person. It’s just too heavy. A robot can solve those things and do that task.” The seven employees at 7robotics are from Roseburg, all over Oregon, and all over the United States, showing Roseburg can raise as well as entice engineers and programmers to support the business. “I’m not from here, but most of the other guys are and came up through Roseburg,” Koenig said. “We think there’s a ton of great people, hardworking people in Roseburg. We eventually want this to be a cool place to work for the great people that are already here in Roseburg. We’re looking for talented people and we’re pretty excited.” Larecy said the branding team saw the symbolism of seven in multiple religions, of perfection and completion. The robots bring a perfection to workplaces that otherwise could not be attained, something engineer Nathan Kusler makes possible when he designs a system. “A lot of the stuff we’ve been doing is pretty similar - moving wood products; plywood, veneer,” Kusler said. “I’m working on another project that we just got where I’m screwing a wood assembly together. The tolerance for that assembly is 1/32 of an inch. These robots are capable of a lot of stuff.” Kusler is both a veteran and a new hire in the timeline of startups. He’s been at 7robotics for about five months, coming directly from getting his mechanical engineering degree at Oregon State University. “The main thing I wanted to do is design, and right now, I am,” Kusler said. “It’s pretty fun. I’m learning a lot. I’ve always been into building stuff. A lot of design work. I guess that’s the main thing because you could be working on end-of-arm tooling or it could be something else.” The robotics industry appears to be at the early stages of significant growth, and now Roseburg is home to a company working to meet the coming demand.