Pravin Sood, Chairman and owner of Jaltek Systems Ltd, a UK based electronics design and manufacturing company, reflects on the last 25 years of his ownership.
Following one of their most successful years, we interviewed Pravin to gain some insights into his remarkable stewardship.
1. How and when did you start in this line of work?
P. Although I have always had a keen interest in technology, I actually started my career as an accountant and after various roles across multiple industries, I became CEO for COM DEV Europe, a leader in the Satellite Communications Industry.
2. What is something people may not know about you?
P. I had always wanted to retire by the age of 45, and actually managed to retire at 46 but it only lasted a year as the opportunity to invest in Jaltek arose and the rest is history.
3. What inspired you to invest in Jaltek 25 years ago?
P. Prior to my ownership, Jaltek was a supplier to COM DEV and assisted in the design and manufacture of some of their products. I established a great relationship with the team at Jaltek during that time and in 1998, when I had retired, Jaltek approached me for assistance as they were experiencing some financial difficulties. I had always been impressed by the technical capabilities of the previous Jaltek team but also knew that with improved commercial, operational and financial focus they could grow from strength to strength. Believing that I could provide that added impetus, I came out of retirement to acquire the business.
4. Tell us about one of your favourite “firsts” at Jaltek…
P. When we first hit a million pounds in revenue. It was about 2 years following my acquisition and we had gone from a zero order book when I first invested to this momentous feat. It was the only time I remember taking a bottle of whisky in to work to celebrate!
5. What are you most proud of in your 25 years at Jaltek?
P. Goodness, there have been so many moments, but the first one that comes to mind is seeing so many long-standing employees still be part of our ever growing team.
Developing and nurturing talent is an important part of why Jaltek is so successful today to the point were our current MD, Steve Pittom, has been with the business nearly 25 years and was one of my first hires into the business development team.
6. What is one major challenge you have faced in these past 25 years?
P. COVID-19 was certainly a challenging time for all with unprecedented working conditions. The pandemic affected many sectors that we worked with, industry events were cancelled and the requirement for remote working didn’t make things easy.
However, with social distancing in place for those in the factory and using technology for those working from home, we were able to stay on track and continue to provide on-going support whilst working closely together to meet targets.
The pandemic showed the need to be flexible, make decisions in short time frames, have a clarity of leadership and great teamwork and I was really proud of everyone and how well they adjusted. The team even received the Business Hero Award from the Chamber of Commerce and Countess of Wessex for their work during COVID!
7. As you reflect on the past 25 years, what is something you have learned?
P. I think the key to building a successful business is building and nurturing relationships. I have always prioritised this, not just with our customers but all our stakeholders, whether they are customers, suppliers or employees. I like to think of us as one big family where everyone is just as important as everyone else.
8. How does Jaltek stand out from other organisations?
P. From a strategic perspective, with the ability to provide a full design, manufacturing and through life support and maintenance service, Jaltek stands out from its peers with its commitment to quality and excellency in all these facets. From a cultural perspective Jaltek stands out by allowing all team members to thrive and excel, with a keen focus on personal development and achievement.
9. What’s next for Jaltek?
Despite a challenging macro economic environment, the last 5 years have seen Jaltek grow significantly from both a financial performance perspective as well as a technical capability perspective. Ongoing capital expenditure plans, coupled with new production facilities and the addition of key members of staff, have led to record revenues and a record order book from both new and longstanding customers. With the added services and capabilities Jaltek is now able to offer, I would expect to maintain this momentum and accelerate our growth rate over the next 5 years. We will also carry on investing in our people and facilities to continually improve upon quality and lead times thereby yielding greater economies of scale for the direct benefit of our customers.
10. Finally Pravin please can you describe Jaltek in one sentence
P. Jaltek is a family, we look after each so that we all have the opportunity to thrive and excel.
To mark the company’s 25th anniversary, Jaltek hosted a surprise celebration for Pravin with all of his employees and family.
Steve Pittom Managing Director said: “We wanted to mark this landmark anniversary and at the same time say thank you to all of our employees who have been integral in our success so far and who will play an important part in our future success as well.”
He continued “We are providing employment and creating a legacy, we will continue to inspire and lead the team into the future. We’re all looking forward to Pravin’s 30th anniversary!”