Chateau developer brings high-tech background to the Ozarks

Brian Brown, Reporter
It’s easy to focus on the technology behind the fourth largest residence in the U.S., especially when that project is a fortress-like structure being designed to withstand an EF-5 tornado.

One possible failing of the article, “Pensmore showcases new construction technology,” the lead story in the Oct. 3 Springfield Business Journal print edition, is that there wasn’t room to give much background information on the developer. So, I thought I’d use this space to help us get to know our soon-to-be new neighbor.

Long before Steven Huff began building the 72,000-square-foot Chateau Pensmore east of U.S. Highway 65 in south Christian County, he founded a company in the ’80s called Sensor Systems, which developed software for defense and medical markets.

Steven Huff

“In the ’90s, (the Department of Defense) was looking for ways to lower the costs of analyzing the imagery from spy satellites, and we were able to develop software that would run on commercial hardware. So we were able to drive down the costs of doing the analysis,” Huff said.

Sensor Systems also developed data fusion software for the medical community that allowed different kinds of imagery from medical scanners to be fused together into one viewable document.

Huff ultimately merged his company into Overwatch Systems LTD, which brought together technology companies that had intelligence-based software for data sharing.

“The idea was we would integrate different sources of intelligence under one umbrella,” Huff said. “Sensor was a keystone, if you will, one of the two key pieces in Overwatch Systems, and we acquired other generally smaller companies and integrated them together.”

Shortly after the creation of Overwatch, Huff said he began working as a consultant for the company that was bought out by Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) for $325 million in 2006.

Before he started Sensor, Huff said he worked in Army intelligence and was a CIA officer.

Huff has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in physics from Cal Tech, where he was primarily focused in astrophysics through his master’s work. His new home and showcase for TF Forming Systems’ vertical concrete forming system will feature an astronomy tower where he can get a clean look at the stars. Huff said the light interference from his northern Virginia home makes it difficult to see much of the night sky, a problem he won’t have from his Ozarks’ hilltop chateau.

Mr. Huff, welcome to the neighborhood.

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