In early 1990, three management consultants spotted a niche upgrading cables for existing customers over a narrowband network. Using their engineering backgrounds, £10,000 in savings, and some credit cards, they purchased test equipment and built prototypes. They sold customised £3 to £4 cable TV accessories, in roughly £50,000 allotments to cable companies. As the cable market grew, Technetix was positioned to capitalise on the arrival of private cable providers selling fee-based services. However, the recession in the early ‘90s dampened cable companies’ enthusiasm for expansion. Despite a recessionary environment, Technetix managed sales of £325,000 its first year. More significantly, the company refocused its attention on the satellite television industry, creating satellite installation accessories. The move into this market generated over half of its sales for the next few years. A year later, Paul Broadhurst and Richard Chamberlain bought out the third partner “for next to nothing.” Managing director Broadhurst says the company competes by manufacturing easy-to-assemble products that can be cost-effectively produced in the UK. Manufacturing here, he believes, gives the company an advantage, as it can maintain close contact with customers during the product development stage, unlike its overseas competitors, and can handle last minute order changes. Engineers, rather than salespeople, are the main client contacts. “Customers are shocked when they meet the engineer who actually designs a product and then receive a prototype four to six weeks later,” adds Broadhurst. 150 people work at its 25,000 sq. ft. plant in Royston. Investment in highly-automated manufacturing systems and ISO9000 accreditation have halved the company’s labour costs. Technetix claims to have its cable TV equipment in 10% of UK residences and is also expanding into China. Sales have increased from £756,000 in 1994 to over £10m in 1997. Major customers include BT, Telewest and Cable & Wireless.
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