It’s the start of a brand new era for one of New Zealand’s oldest privately owned electronics companies still run by its original owner, following the sale of TESA Electronics Ltd.
Established in 1966 by Bob Burstall, TESA has been purchased by another Auckland entrepreneur, Marc Jamieson, who is combining it with his photographic products business, Focal Holdings.
The newly combined entity will trade under the TESA Distribution name and brings 25 staff together from the two companies, including some with more than 40 years service.
“TESA has such a long and rich history in New Zealand, with an enormous amount of goodwill and excellent reputation for service, that it made perfect sense to retain a slight variation of the name for the combined businesses, enabling us to build on that platform for the future,” Jamieson says.
While TESA is currently run out of a Penrose office and warehouse complex and Focal operates from Parnell, the two will eventually be brought together under one roof, he says – their separate Christchurch branches have already been combined and there is also representation in Wellington.
Burstall says after the best part of half a century at the helm of his own company it will be hard to step back, but he has every confidence in his successor.
“In many ways he reminds me of a much younger version of myself and I am convinced the future of the company is in good hands,” Burstall says.
Beginning as a component manufacturing and Distribution Company in 1966, TESA supplied parts for New Zealand-made television sets.
The company then began importing a wider range of electronic products, supplying them directly to retailers also.
It has gone on to become the New Zealand distributor for a number of well-known brand names, including Varta (batteries) and Agfa Photo (cameras/accessories) of Germany and Maxell (PC/AV accessories) of Japan.
In fact, it was an approach by TESA that led Varta to sell its batteries directly to consumers in Australasia where it was previously an OEM supplier only, and New Zealand was used as a test market.
TESA was also among the first in New Zealand to sell compact digital weather stations for consumer use.
Today, TESA Distribution offers a wide range of products to retailers, from digital electronic and photographic consumables to computer and audio accessories, along with batteries for all types of uses.
As New Zealand went from being a closed market to a very open one, competition also increased, but TESA followed its own business plan putting service before sales for success.
“Everything seems to come out of China these days, but before then it was Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and the Philippines selling very cheap goods and we wanted to offer a point of difference," Burstall says.
"So we mainly concentrated on the mid-to-higher end of the market, sourcing many of our products from Europe and focusing on good brands – that has worked very well for us over the years."
Focal Holdings, meanwhile, started 30 years ago, importing and distributing photographic accessories.
It, too, has focused on representing good brands, including Manfrotto, National Geographic and Kata camera bags, Gerber binoculars, Lastolite lighting, Hama accessories and Adata memory products. It was purchased by Jamieson in 2010.
“Our two businesses are very complementary and that is what attracted me to TESA in the first place,” Jamieson adds.
“Effectively, we are doubling our strengths.”