Instrumentation company turns 25, launches new product range

August 24th, 2017, Published in Articles: EE Publishers, Articles: Energize, Articles: Vector

How a local company started out with an eight-page product brochure to become a major international player in the fields of measurement and instrumentation.

Pat Shaw

Professional test and measurement instrumentation company Major Tech celebrated its 25th anniversary during a partner event hosted at the Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club on 16 August 2017. The event also saw the launch of the new Veti 2 range of sockets and switches.

Addressing guests during the event, CEO Pat Shaw said the company started out originally to bring to market its own brand of test and measurement instruments. He said the company was founded amid the political turmoil in South Africa of the early 1990s, shortly after Nelson Mandela’s release from incarceration in 1992.

“People were leaving the country because of the uncertainty, yet we were launching a company,” he said. “We were confident in South Africa’s future and driven to comply with local regulations and to launch our own product brands into the market.”

Major Tech was launched officially on 9 July 1992, with an eight-page product catalogue and a commitment to product innovation, proving former President Mandela’s words, “it always seems impossible until it has been done”.

The company has since pursued its objective of providing quality product at reasonable cost, as well as its core values – its staff, efficiency, timeous delivery and putting the customer first.

Two years after it was founded, the company commissioned an artist to design a logo for the entire Major Tech product offering. The result was the now internationally-recognised “Major Dad” logo, synonymous with all the company’s branding.

The original Major Tech building in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, was occupied in 1995. The company now also has full stocking branches in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Bloemfontein, and occupied its new, purpose-built building in Elandsfontein, Johannesburg, in 2013.

Shaw says not many people realise that Major Tech is a South African concern competing with large multinational companies. He says the core business is test and measurement, but the company has since progressed to instruments, always focusing on innovation.

From left are Jan Lotz, Rhodam Evans, Howard Earley, Pat Shaw, Wayne Ternent and Werner Grobbelaar.

Shortly after its launch, Major Tech had to discontinue the distribution of Japan-based measurement technology company Kyoritsu’s product, as direct import from that country was no longer an option. The only alternative was to import the product via the United Kingdom, which proved unsustainable. The range was subsequently removed from Major Tech’s product range and the company set about developing its own product range.

In 1996, Shaw was invited to meet with the Kyoritsu chairperson at the company’s head-office in Hong Kong, and was told that Kyoritsu had set its sights on Major Tech as its next agent in South Africa.

It was only during a subsequent visit two years later by Kyoritsu to South Africa when Major Tech became its local agent.

Shaw was, however, not interested in distributing product unless it bore his company’s branding. Dual branding was suggested but Major Tech felt that Kyoritsu was difficult to pronounce in South Africa. In the end, it was agreed that Major Tech distribute the products under its own branding, but that the product range would be called the “K-series”, a trademark registered to Kyoritsu.

A 16 A switch from the new Veti 2 range.

The range was launched in 1999 and the MT500 insulation and continuity tester has become well-known. The subsequent addition of a double-injection moulded case has since led to the MT500 Mark II and the MT550 testers.

Another addition to the range were IP67-rated waterproof multimeters for the mining industry, where moisture ingress can occur deep below ground. These instruments also feature double-injection moulding and trade at the same price as standard multimeters.

Shaw says Major Tech also became the first company in the country to offer 1000 V tools, which it tailor-makes on request by electrical contractors.

Test and measurement equipment is not replaced very often and, in 2007, Major Tech diversified and included switches and sockets in its product offering. Shaw says it took three years to develop the Veti range, launched in 2010. This range also made the company one of the first to introduce modular switches to the market.

With the advent of LED technology came the need for dimming. The Veti range was incapable of this and Major Tech developed a dimmer able to dim both LED and incandescent lamps.

Speaking at the Veti 2 launch, Shaw explained that the sockets and switches are designed to bring style to the entry-level market without affecting price. They feature a monoblock design and the sockets are said to be the first in the country to accommodate a switched socket with a standard RSA socket, two V-Slim sockets and two USB ports.

The Veti 2 switches and sockets took two years to develop and are available in a complete monoblock offer, in white and charcoal. They feature “reset” switching, are perfectly flat and have a slim design keeping them flush with the wall surface. The range is manufactured from a flame retardant polycarbonate and ABS blend, and is IEC and SANS compliant.

The switches include finger lever, dual, three-lever and four-lever switches and are flat, whether in the “on” or “off” position. All switches have single live input and include a fluorescent locator.

A wide variety of sockets including ten different socket outlet combinations is available in this range, which is one of the first to offer a dual-USB socket. The range also includes shaver sockets and communication sockets including data (CAT6), satellite and television sockets.

The Veti 2 range will be distributed locally by Voltex.

 

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