Success Story #16
Leading global electronic technology company Tellumat is a Cape Town institution.
Headquartered in Tokai, the business offers world-class, progressive technology products, custom solutions and services. Established in 1963 as a subsidiary of Plessey plc (UK Group), the company became an autonomous South African operation in 1989 and subsequently listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JESE) as Plessey Corporation in 1995. Three years later, as a result of fragmentation through acquisition, the company de-listed and was renamed Tellumat.
Today, the company services the ICT, defence and security, transport and energy industries across South Africa and select global markets.
“Our style of business is that we value long-term partnerships with both our customers and technology partners. We typically invest significant engineering time in our solutions and services to make sure that they have the right form, fit, and quality for our customers’ needs,” says Tellumat CEO Andrew Connold.
Tellumat employs some 350 people across the business. Its clients include the SA Air Force, the SA Navy, the country’s defence cluster, all the Telecommunication Networks and airports across the continent.
“On the defence force side, particularly for the navy, we do a lot of maintenance of electronics in the dockyard: on-board ships, for radios, radar systems and the like,” says Connold. “For the Air Force, we maintain many of their radar installations but have also developed a unique identification system for their aircraft, also deployed in the navy on some of the ships, so that one can identify them using secondary radar – as a friend or a foe. This system is also sold internationally to many customers, mainly in developing countries around the world.”
On the premises in Cape Town, Tellumat boasts a state-of-the-art electronic manufacturing plant, focusing primarily on contract manufacturing. “We manufacture products from vehicle tracking to sport products like golf radar systems, which are exported primarily to North America, and manufacture satellite antennas for aircraft for export around the world by our customers,” says Connold.
Tellumat is currently also involved in digital to analogue television set-top box (STB) manufacturing.
Connold ranks Cape Town as one of the top business destinations on the continent. “Not only do we have sophisticated banking, we also have good road, rail, air and shipping infrastructure in place, which works effectively. All of these things, combined with the beautiful setting in Cape Town, make it an attractive destination to do business in.”
Connold adds: “Cape Town has a very well-run metropolitan council, and so the services are regular, and pretty abundant. We find that there’s a good pool of resources. For most of the skills we need we typically don’t have a challenge finding them locally. Scarce skills, particularly on the engineering side and some of the scientific skills that we need from time to time, can be a challenge, as they would be difficult to find anywhere in the country. But the attractiveness of Cape Town and surrounds helps us when we do find those skills, to get them to come and work here. We’ve found over the years, from the early days of Plessey in the 1960s, that it’s always been a great destination to attract particularly your research and development engineers. It’s is a nice city to live in.”
In Gauteng, Tellumat’s telecommunications division installs infrastructure and supplies products into telecommunications infrastructure, primarily to the mobile telecommunications networks. The company also has an air traffic management division based up north, focused on ground-based radar and navigation systems for aircraft navigation in and around airports in sub-Saharan Africa.