Crary Scholar Returns, Makes Good
Jeff Allott, Crary Scholarship recipient, built a business around his love of sports.
Adirondack native Jeff Allott has dedicated his life to doing what he likes to do. In fact, he and his partner nearly named their start up business "Things We Like To Do," but settled on General Composites (GCI), a name well known to athletes who use high-end skis, racing paddles, bikes. What Jeff and Steven Winckler did was make fancy aerospace materials affordable and available, supplying design and manufacture for virtually any market. GCI is driven by the joy of innovation: "We are at our best when a project requires multiple processes or special challenges," reports the website.
GCI recently won ISO 9001:2008 certification, a big deal in the world of medical and aerospace applications. "Our next frontier is bio-compatible implants that are x-ray transparent, radio lucent and light," said Jeff. "With composites, we can tailor an implant to meet an individual's needs and eliminate the weakening of bone around that happens with metal implants and can lead to stress fractures."
Jeff has a friendly way of describing his work to the 99 percent who'd have to go to engineering school to understand it. You'd never know he nearly flunked out of high school and spent the next seven years skiing. How did he come to be a cutting edge entrepreneur who, with his wife Susan, is raising three great kids?
"I was 24 years old and travel-savvy, but financially broke and very few schools were interested in me," he reports. Adirondack Community College accepted him only after a prolonged sales pitch. The risk they took was amply rewarded: Jeff was an A student who moved on to RPI's Mechanical Engineering Program. An adult student expected to pay his own way, Jeff worked evenings and weekends through college. Fortunately, the Crary Foundation makes scholarship grants to "non-traditional" students. Jeff received urgently needed funding that helped make ends meet.
After graduating Cum Laude, he worked for DuPont for four years. When his former RPI professor Winckler suggested they start new business together, Jeff took the leap. He brought his side of the business, manufacturing, back with him to the Adirondacks. GCI has expanded over the next 27 years to its current 50,000 square foot facility in Willsboro.
Jeff attributes his success to his education: "None of what I have accomplished would have happened without the education I received and the connection I made while in school. I rely heavily on both to this very day."
For four decades, the Crary Education Foundation has been helping high school seniors and adults realize the dream of going to college. Non-traditional student applications are available at the Crary Foundation, PO Box 396, Elizabethtown, NY 12932. Traditional scholarship applications are available through school guidance counselors. Adirondack Foundation is proud to oversee the management of the Crary endowment, so that it can continue to usher Adirondack students toward higher education.