D&WC: Please give a detailed
description of your company and its history.
Tim Bates, CEO and President: Techniku, a market-oriented leader in the design and development of automation solutions for interior window coverings, has a storied history beginning as a successful original equipment manufacturer (OEM) in the automotive industry. Decades ago, Techniku used its core engineering and development capabilities as an international manufacturer for automated car mirrors and shock absorbers. As the company continued to grow, Techniku entered an emerging market that had immediate benefits using our significant experience in small, strong electro-mechanical motors and integrated controls . . . automated window coverings.
In 1998, Techniku Europe, a Holland-based company focused on battery-operated tilt automation, purchased Daylighting, a U.S.-based company with a focus on high-end, niche automation applications (see D&WC, September 1998). The marriage of the companies brought together the best of both cultures, resulting in state-of-the-art engineering and product design experience.
Today, while both locations (Woerden, Netherlands, and Broomfield, CO) have functioning Engineering, Operations and Sales departments, Techniku USA maintains the strategic company headquarters. Growing our global leadership position through strong cooperation with partners in the building industry, home automation market and window covering OEM and fabrication channels, we work together in market and product research and design. Our unique structure broadens our scope resulting in significant market insight unmatched in the industry.
While technology and product design are our core assets, we have an equally talented operations staff to leverage international vendors to produce the highest quality motors and controls, as well as dedicated sales and marketing teams that work globally to understand and listen to our customers, responding with innovative products and programs. While we only have 50 international employees, at Techniku you will find unsurpassed dedication and motivation to grow the market for automated window coverings through innovative designs, robust solutions, and a commitment to work with and for our customers. It is because of these talented individuals that Techniku is committed to becoming the ultimate solution provider for your automated window covering systems and controls.
D&WC: What window coverings products did you handle initially? What products do you handle today?
Bates: Initially, Techniku offered a variety of tilt systems for horizontal and vertical blinds, combined with a high-end automation solution for cellular/pleated shades in a skylight application. In the past several years, we have used our experience to create state-of-the-art, cutting-edge solutions to meet the demands of the window coverings industry.
Today, Techniku focuses on simple, yet sophisticated, battery and low-voltage automation systems and controls, resulting in a variety of solutions for horizontal and vertical blinds, cellular and pleated shades, roller shades and designer shadings and draperies. Combined with a wide range of controls, including IR, RF and TouchControl, we are committed to providing the industry with robust, cost-effective and easy to fabricate and install systems that are designed for specific applications. And with an extensive product road map for the coming years, Techniku expects to be the one-stop supplier offering a wide array of programs and user-friendly automation solutions for both residential and commercial applications.
D&WC: Who are your customers? What parts of the country do you service?
Bates: Techniku serves customers all over the globe. As a leader in the industry, we are more than a motor vendor; we are a partner in designing and developing specific automation solutions to meet the requirements of the market.
With our strategic business direction to sell to OEMs and window coverings fabricators, we recognize the importance of all levels within the window coverings industry including dealers, designers and installers. For automation to be successful, we count on all levels of the channel to understand and be comfortable with offering, selling and installing these systems. That is why we are committed to creating strong partnerships with our customers, providing extensive training and support at all levels of their organizations and customer bases.
D&WC: Where do you see yourself and your company five years from now? Are there additional areas within the industry that you would like to get involved in?
Bates: Since becoming involved in the industry, significant strides have been made resulting in greater awareness of automation. Consumers are now more comfortable than ever with home automation. Most consumers are becoming well versed on their options to control their living spaces from lighting controls, to sophisticated A/V systems, to automated window coverings. With the maturing and mainstreaming of smart home technology in the residential market, window covering automation has reached a point where costs are continuing to stabilize while features are increasing.
We are convinced this market will only continue to grow at exponential rates in the coming years. And this is where we plan to be—designing and developing state-of-the-art, automation solutions and controls for DC and AC motors with IR and RF controls.
D&WC: What are some of the key factors involved in your growth and success?
Bates: While there are many reasons behind our success, there are two significant factors that stand out. First is our focus on creating simple, quality products that fulfill market demands. By listening to our international customer base, we leverage the best option and deliver solutions in a timely manner.
It is our engineering team’s job to create systems that can be an easy addition to a fabricator’s standard process. We use the analogy of making hamburgers. When someone orders a cheeseburger, the cheese is added during the process . . . the hamburger doesn’t have to be taken to a different station, taken apart and re-built with cheese! We want this to be the process for automation. If someone orders a window covering automated, it is a simple addition to the fabrication process. The blind/shade does not need to be taken to another station, disassembled and re-fabricated to include automation! Over the years, automation has been sold as a complicated (which has translated to “intimidating”) issue. And while there are some systems and controls that require significant knowledge, at Techniku we focus on simplifying automation so the multiple professionals in the channel can be successful marketing and selling the systems to their customers. Our automation solutions are a simple upgrade for the fabricator, a value-added sale for the dealer and a new level of convenient control for the consumer.
The second factor behind our success is the partnership approach we take with our customers. Our dedicated sales team works with our customers to understand what they need or want to be successful in their markets. It is our job to work with our OEM and fabricator customers to provide hands-on direction and to alleviate the longstanding fear surrounding automation and to promote a change within the industry.
As we complete a new multi-layer training and Web-based education program, we work with and through our customers, supporting them as they educate their forward-thinking design and installation professionals.
D&WC: What are your strengths in the marketplace?
Bates: Above all, Techniku is committed to the success of the window coverings professional as you venture into offering automation solutions for the window coverings you sell or install. This commitment means we are here to support all levels of our customers. And while there are multiple automation companies to choose from today, we realize one thing: if we continue to compete, we will create better products that will create better solutions for our customers. And if we grow the market, aren’t we all winning?
In addition, as a relatively small organization, we can move quickly to respond to market situations. Combining our tooling and machining center, Techniku can quickly design, prototype and prepare final molds for the highest quality products.
D&WC: What advice would you give to other window coverings professionals?
Bates: As Techniku supports our customers and the industry in various educational programs, we provide three simple rules for success to the window covering professional:
1. Find an automation system that fits your comfort level. There are a variety of automation solutions available in the market, from simple, battery-operated systems, to low-voltage DC systems, to line voltage AC systems, to extensive facility integration systems. And while all of these systems are important for specific applications, it is important to find the automation systems that you are comfortable offering. Partner with your favorite fabricator that can support your level of automation. Once you are comfortable, try the next level and so on.
2. Change the language. As mentioned, automation has traditionally been addressed with a stigma of fear. Today’s automation can be simple to add to most products you already sell or install with little to no additional installation requirements. So, change the language from “Do you want your controls left or right?” to “Do you want your controls left, right or remote?” Just try it and we think the consumer will listen!
3. Look for opportunities. Anytime you have to walk around something, reach around something or use a ladder to measure a window covering, automation should be considered. After all, if you have to go through this just to measure, think of what your consumer will have to go through every time she wants to operate that window covering!
325 Interlocken Parkway, Suite B-200
Broomfield, CO 80021
Fax: (303) 355-1471