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BEFORE PROTECHNIC

Keith Judson is the founder of Protechnic, the following is a brief history of the company so far:

Keith started his working life in September 1979 as a graduate engineer at Rolls Royce and, after a 2-year graduate apprenticeship for IMechE membership Keith was employed in the Mechanical Research Department. Keith stayed at Rolls Royce for a few years, but he was then offered a sales role with a Danish metrology company, Dantec. The division that he worked for sold very expensive laser measurement systems. It was during this time that, after some damage to the demo stock equipment, Keith suggested that the company have some professional cases manufactured.

1988 – 1990

Whilst Dantec was a large company in Denmark, the UK operation was a small sales office, and Keith was given the task of finding a company to manufacture the protective cases. However, it quickly became apparent that the case manufacturers that Keith contacted were making flight cases primarily for the music industry, and it proved very difficult to get flight cases for the scientific equipment at Dantec. This was when Keith decided to leave Dantec and start a company manufacturing high-end transit cases for the scientific industry. At that time, there was a scheme called the Enterprise Allowance Scheme, a government-funded initiative for start-up companies. Keith was assigned to Hartcliffe and Withywood Ventures (HWV), who were very helpful in getting Protechnic started.

1990 – 1995

During the early 1990’s we were manufacturing flight cases for a small number of companies in the scientific instrument sector and we were starting to grow organically, the cases were to a large extent very similar to any other flight case made by other flight case manufacturers. At that time, we exhibited at an general marketing exhibition in Wembley and we were approached by a German company that had been asked to supply flight cases to a large Oil & Gas company with a facility in the UK. The company was Halliburton and within a short period it became apparent that they had a huge requirement for transit cases. It was during this time that we designed cases that were specific to their requirements and that was the start of our relationship with a large number of Oil & Gas companies based mainly in Aberdeen UK. This was also the start of our ongoing process of product development.

1995 – 2000

We have a very strong and diverse customer base, we have continued to develop our unique products and have invested in our infrastructure to ensure we continue to develop as a company. We have a good management team supported by a comprehensive MRP system (Winman) giving vital MI at every stage of the business from order entry, stock control, production planning, scheduling and analysis through to accounts to ensure our output meets or exceeds customer expectations and is commercially viable. We use the latest Solid Edge 3D CAD allowing our design team to offer solutions that are tailored to the exact requirements of our customers. We try to have as much of the key manufacturing processes ‘in house’ which allows us to offer short lead times when required.

2000 – 2010

After a lengthy search, we identified our current premises in 2006, the property was in poor condition having been empty for a number of years but, after an extensive refurbishment, we moved the company to Nailsea in 2007. It was during this time that we started to design our flagship product, the Exo Case. The financial crisis in 2008 had an impact on our progress during this time and the development of the Exo Case took much longer as a result but we were able to launch the product towards the end of that decade and we are continuing to develop the product now. The Exo Case was originally conceived as a military product to offer a case with the durability of an injection/ roto moulded case but with the configurability of a manufactured flight case. The Exo Case design has now been used in a great many sectors including Military, Oil & Gas, Aerospace, Motor Sport (F1), Medical and many more. The Exo case is a patented product, the name and logo are also UK trademarked, the Exo case design has been extensively tested to Def Stan 81-41.

2010 – 2020

Around the 2010’s we were still enjoying a very strong order entry from the Oil & Gas sector but we were aware that we were very dependent on this sector for a large proportion of our turnover and, given the cyclic nature of the sector, coupled with the recent financial crisis, we were keen to develop into a non-industrial income stream. We had launched an online shop (Casemarket) but it was early days for eCommerce and, whilst we had some success, it was proving to be very difficult to gain a consistent, ongoing, repeat income stream from this initiative. It was around this time that we were contacted by a local school enquiring about bespoke flight cases for their IT equipment, we designed a product around the Exo case that was very well received, and we realised that there must be a very large requirement for this type of product in the UK and further afield. The Education sector represented an ideal opportunity to develop a non-industrial customer base to complement the existing industrial sectors. We developed a range of products under the name of Multipad and we exhibited at the BETT Show at the Excell London in 2014, we attracted a great deal of interest in our products. The BETT Show is an international exhibition and we engaged with several companies in Europe, this has resulted in a good level of export turnover and there is a great deal of potential to develop this further. We are continuing to develop this product range and have recently launched our own design of trolley system, there is a great deal of potential in other sectors where mobile IT devices are frequently used, NHS is a prime example.

The Exo case design has proved to be very successful, we are now in the process of designing a heavy-duty case for larger applications and our R&D route map includes a waterproof version of the Exo case.

Current

We have a very strong and diverse customer base, we have continued to develop our unique products and have invested in our infrastructure to ensure we continue to develop as a company. We have a good management team supported by a comprehensive MRP system (Winman) giving vital MI at every stage of the business from order entry, stock control, production planning, scheduling and analysis through to accounts to ensure our output meets or exceeds customer expectations and is commercially viable. We use the latest Solid Edge 3D CAD allowing our design team to offer solutions that are tailored to the exact requirements of our customers. We try to have as much of the key manufacturing processes ‘in house’ which allows us to offer short lead times when required.

One of our repeated mantras is ‘don’t let your last good idea be your last good idea’ and we are constantly striving to make our products as irresistible as possible.