Photek

Interview with our CEO Gareth Jones

Posted on September 2, 2021

 

Please can you introduce yourself, and your role at Photek?

Gareth Jones, Managing Director of Photek and CEO of TQ Scientific. I manage and oversee the various core business functions: Production, Finance, Sales & Marketing, R&D, and Quality, to help achieve the strategic goals of the business. Photek is now part of the Tibidabo Scientific Industries Group supported by a Senior Management Team who drive this at the departmental level.

 

Can you tell us a little bit about the history of Photek?

The company was founded in 1991 and we are approaching our 30th anniversary in September of this year. The Company was originally formed by a management acquisition of the Electro-Optics Division of ITL when ITL went into administration. The Company originally manufactured small numbers of specialist detectors for Space Science and Physics research projects. Photek has grown over the years by increasing our customer base and by entering new market and application areas. From 14 staff at start-up, we now have around 60 employees.

 

Can you tell us about how you work with customers to assess their specific needs and requirements?

Customers frequently have different technical requirements for their application. The initial phase of contact is working through their application to define the product need and to develop and agree on the performance and technical specifications, before moving onto the manufacturing stage. We build long-lasting relationships with our customers by working so closely together.

 

Is there a general timeline that the sales process takes, would you say on average?

This is very much customer and application dependent, with anything from two weeks for a “standard” product with a known specification, to longer-term development projects, for example, Space Science, where development could take anywhere from one to three years. Typically, our sales cycle process would be around 3 to 6 months.

 

What are the main applications that your products are used in?

We work across several market areas each with several specific applications. Our primary sectors are Physics, Space Science & Aerospace, Chemistry & Material Science, Microscopy & Life Science. Example applications would include High Energy Physics, Fluorescence Microscopy, Neutron Imaging, UV Astronomy and Atmospheric Chemistry. The full application list is quite exhaustive.

 

In your personal perspective, what industries or areas of research are you strongest in?

Space Science is becoming an increasingly key segment for us, alongside our historical strength in Physics Research.

 

Do you have any personal highlights for last 16 years of working at Photek?

The thing I have enjoyed the most is the opportunity to interface with people conducting world-class research and contribute to developing new technologies and solutions for the challenges they face.

 

Can you give a brief overview of your product range?

Photek is a specialist manufacturer and global supplier of vacuum-based tubes and camera systems for photon detection. We manufacture Image Intensifiers, Solar Blind Detectors, Photomultipliers, Streak Tubes, and a range of associated electronics and Camera Systems.

 

Is there a core expertise that ties all of your products together? What is that common thread?

Our expertise across physics, material science, and electronics help support the increasingly demanding application needs of customers.

 

What do you provide for customers that they don’t get elsewhere?

We offer a high degree of specialisation with particular expertise in large area and high-speed detectors, with particular strength in UV blue cathodes. Our focus has traditionally been on offering bespoke solutions to customers that other companies are unable to offer. We build long term relationships with customers at a high level of technical competence.

 

Looking to the future, what challenges do you think those same customers might face in the next few years that they would come to Photek for?

The High Energy Physics community will continue to push the boundaries of detector technology in terms of temporal resolution, count-rate, lifetime and sensitivity. Added to this is the software challenge of integrating large amounts of data in real-time. All areas where Photek continues to develop new solutions.

 

And what do you think new team members in the next few years will bring?

We have many new, bright, and energetic team members that will bring a certain freshness to our business. Complemented by their own ideas and enthusiasm we intend to push our application space at a technical and commercial level even further.

 

What makes you personally excited for the future of Photek?

The formation of the Tibidabo Group of companies gives many synergistic opportunities and the cross-pollination of ideas. The growth plans for the Group certainly suggest some exciting times ahead!