In this edition of Elexon Electronics Newsletter we sit down with TPS CEO, Russell Seres, to talk all things precision monitoring – and archery!
Q: TPS is Elexon Electronics’ sister. What is the core of the business?
TPS is a designer and manufacturer of water quality measurement devices. We provide accurate measurements for a large variety of businesses in many different industries such as mining, environmental monitoring, agriculture, food and beverage production, research and education. Our devices measure pH, electrical conductivity, dissolved oxygen, turbidity and ORP.
Q: Tell us a bit about your background, before joining TPS?
Well, I actually started at Elexon straight out of university – about 15 years ago. I’d finished my degree, so I started calling companies that did electronics design. Pieter was the only person I could convince to take me on!
I was an electronics engineer at that time, working on Smart Marker, and after that project I left and went to work for another company doing similar things. I then worked for a mate of mine in the power industry for a while. After that, I returned to Elexon.
Once I was back at Elexon, I worked on the Smart Baby – the CPR mannequin and Cave Tracker. I then moved into a production engineer role, then progressed to being a production manager.
Q: How did TPS become a part of the Elexon Group, and when did you get involved?
I was production manager at that point, in 2014, but I remember Pieter was buying a company called TPS.
I went down to their facility in Springwood and helped transfer all of their data to M1. I got to see the original TPS during that time, and it was quite old and outdated. I mean, shabby chic! Even their screw drivers and chisels had handles hand made on a lathe.
But the products were selling and they were still quite a successful company. They’d invented all of this technology, but weren’t growing the business.
When Elexon bought TPS they were put into a large spot downstairs, before moving upstairs. I was still in a production manager role but I had helped them transition, so I was really the only person at Elexon to understand the TPS products and business.
The idea of the de-merging came up, separating the companies, and I put my hand up for TPS because I had been so close to it. I came on as CEO at that time. I am very thankful Pieter and Leigh took a chance on me.
Q: How has TPS changed, since your time your time with the company?
It’s changed a lot, actually! After a couple of years we started marketing and promoting the business, and that’s when things really picked up. Sales went up and we just kept improving our processes and making things more efficient. The results we have had have surprised everyone.
When this unit came up (Bult Drive), we moved across into our own facility and had it fitted out. It was our opportunity to have our own spot and we’ve since made it our own. This made the team feel like we had our own path.
In terms of operation, we’ve made production improvements and tweaks along the way, but the products have remained largely the same. We are stepping up a tier with our new product – we’re sort of in a lower- to mid-tier now, and we’ll be competing with top-tier companies once we launch.
We’ve built an amazing team – it’s small but very efficient. We actually have two members of our team that have been with TPS since before Elexon bought it. We have Ben who’s been at TPS since he was 16, so by far the longest serving employee. Then we have John who’s also been with us from the beginning.
Q: What are you most proud of across your time at TPS?
I’m really proud of the team and everyone in it. We’re a small team and while production is the backbone, everyone else has such a key role. We couldn’t do it without any one of them. We’ve got a great team culture, too.
We’ve had some record months and we just had a record year, so we’re really proud of that. Originally we were just running on existing customers and word of mouth, but once we started marketing and working on our brand awareness, everything has improved.
Q: Tell us about what you like to do in your spare time!
Well, I’ve got three kids – so they keep me busy! After board games, camping, and all of that, if I’ve got spare time you’ll find me tinkering in the shed.
I love archery too, it’s really fun. I used to shoot long distance and targets with a compound bow, but I recently bought a Mongolian Horse Bow. It’s really simple, the arrow just sits in your hand and there’s no sights. You have to learn to shoot without even aiming – it’s called instinctive archery.
Q: Where do you see TPS in ten years?
I see us having a whole suite of new products, and a strong international presence. We plan on constantly releasing new products from now on.
We want to start developing new technologies, too. There are opportunities that we can see now, which require resources but we believe we can tackle them. In select niches of the market, we plan on being a market leader in developing the technology itself.
Thank you for taking the time to walk us through your TPS journey, Russell. We can’t wait to see the new TPS product hit the market, which we expect will be a huge hit. We’d also love to see that Mongolian Horse Bow in action, but it may not be WHS approved!