Plug Power Inc.
Andy Marsh & Reid Hislop
TWST: Let's begin with a brief history, as well as an overview of Plug Power.
Mr. Marsh: Plug Power (PLUG)was formed in 1997. When I look back at the history, the first seven or eight years of this company was really focused on driving technology development. If you look back in 2001 and 2002, fuel cells were not yet a viable commercial technology. They didn't operate long enough, costs were too high, and since then, our engineers did a great deal of work developing a technology that worked. As a result, we built around that technology a rich patent portfolio of over 150 patents.
When I joined the company in April 2008, my objective was to find a viable commercial market for fuel cell technologies, very much in the same way that other technologies chase a market. Luckily, we did find a market that made sense. I probably spent the first six months of my time here at Plug Power on the road visiting a variety of different customers and with a variety of different applications. One that I found that made sense was the material-handling market, where we replace the lead-acid batteries in forklift trucks with hydrogen fuel cells. Over the past two to three years, we've been focused on customers and market development within this market, as well as developing a full product line to meet the needs of these customers.
As we sit here in early 2012, I have a premier set of customers that include Fortune 500 companies, I have a full suite of products and I have a product that is becoming more and more cost effective. So we've gone from a technology, a laboratory experiment, in 1997 to a full commercial company here in 2012. In some respects, a long path, but one that shows much promise. Last year, the fuel cell industry was probably just a little over $500 million to $600 million, but Pike Research expects this industry to be over $28 billion in 2017. Plug Power expects to be a significant player in that market.
TWST: It's a new year, how did the downturn domestically impact U.S. market interest in 2011 and have you remained unscathed?