After Techna International celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2020, The Leaders Council looks back at the electrical and mechanical product supplier’s years in business with a brief history going back to its establishment in 1945.
For its 75+ years in operation, Techna has become synonymous with high quality, value for money products and exceptional customer service. With an ever-increasing portfolio of world-class products, the company is positioned to serve a host of markets and industries both in the UK and across the world.
So how did it all start? Firstly, Techna’s roots go back several years before its 1945 foundation, to the mid-1930s. At the time, Ervin Mestitz - who would go on to become the founder of the business - was a young electrical engineer working at Skoda in Czechoslovakia.
The Mestitz family’s history in business can be traced as far back as the late 1800s, with the manufacture of the first Czech vacuum cleaner, the “ATOM”. Yet, Ervin’s maiden solo venture into business came in the city of Plzeň [Pilsen], where he started his own electrical manufacturing company.
Unfortunately, the Second World War soon struck Europe, forcing Ervin out of Czechslovakia to seek out pastures new, and so he emigrated to the UK.
As the war years raged on, Ervin found work in a Ministry of Defence factory, before going on to establish a new business, Techna, when the war ended in 1945.
By the year 1962, Ervin’s Techna business had grown and was passed down to his son, Richard Mestitz. The years that followed saw the business establish itself as the UK market leader in thermal circuit protection and achieved much success with the introduction of capital machinery for the wire, cable and rope industries. As its reputation for excellence grew, Techna consolidated further by becoming one of the first UK manufacturers of high-grade metal-film resistors and thick-and-thin-film hybrid technology.
Techna’s age of expansion began in the middle of the 1990s, when third-generation family member, John Mestitz, took over as director in 1998. The first major change John brought about was a complete computerisation of the business, moving away from its more dated methods of using card index file systems to record and store data.
Elsewhere, John has been instrumental in manufacturing Techna’s own range of low voltage electrical components, including MCB’s, RCB’s, RCBO’s, Contactors, Thermal Breakers, Push Buttons and LED Indicators, which pushed Techna into the export market via its companies in the US, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and mainland China.
In more recent years, John has kept Techna heavily involved with Innovate R&D projects, which have enabled the business to take major steps forward in its technological capability. Involvement in such projects has yielded a move to new Distribution and Sales facilities, allowing Techna to embark on ambitious plans to widen its product and services range, and increase its R&D capacity which has helped keep the company ahead of the market.
In 2015, the company was awarded a UCL Enterprise Award for being the institution’s most successful Knowledge Transfer Partnership of that year, as part of a scheme run by Innovate. This success allowed Techna to access a smart grant provided by Innovate later that same year.
But what of the here and now? Despite all of the firm’s achievements over the years, the key for John Mestitz is to ensure that Techna does not become one of time’s many victims and sees its rich history confined to the past.
Indeed, John’s hunger for the business to continue to grow and succeed has remained unhindered even in spite of the Covid-19 pandemic. Over a challenging 2020, Techna set about building its first e-commerce website entirely from scratch, which is now fully operational and stocks over 900 different products and was able to end its financial year in September 2020 with four per cent growth.
Speaking to The Leaders Council, Mestitz said: “We can look back fondly on our 75 years in industry, but we cannot rest on our laurels and we must press on and plan for the future.
“Despite Covid-19 restrictions being likely to remain in place for a good portion of 2021, we remain optimistic and continue to look at expansion. This will hopefully involve an extension of our existing product range over the next year, in collaboration with our partners in the US. We also hope to expand our R&D facilities and other general facilities further to ensure that limited physical capacity impedes us as little as possible.”
With an established history behind it and the foundations in place for a bright future, Techna is well placed to continue to offer its clients support in an enormous variety of applications and remain at the forefront of British industry for years to come.