The Natek company, located in the town of Älmhult in Småländ, has been designing universal chargers since 1993. The company's major expertise has been the development of printed circuit boards. What is unique about the company is that they do not produce batteries specifically made for their chargers, since the chargers accept any type of battery.
The name of the company comes from the five technicians who started the company: Niklas, Anders, Tomas, Erik and Kjell. Their expertise was automatic control technology, and they all came from a company that manufactured power supply products. They chose to focus on the armed forces industry and began manufacturing and supplying chargers that primarily used Nickel-cadmium batteries.
- There were several technicians working on products based on customer specifications. In the 90s, Natek had no standard products, only products tailored to customers' needs. During the start-up period, we produced a number of products and models, but the most important of these was the universal charger, says Mikael.
The company began looking at new charger systems during the 2000s, as they wanted the capacity to charge all types of batteries for the armed forces, depending on the battery's chemistry. They manufactured the 4-channel charger ML334, which became the company's standard product and most popular item.
The charger fits with plastic adapters, depending on the type of battery and the number of batteries charging at the same time.
In 2013, the company underwent restructuring, when the Ljungby company HP Tronic became the principle owner.
- They are a contract manufacturer and saw that Natek's expertise could become one of their business models. This changed our focus and we transitioned from armed forces to contract manufactured products for the civil industry. In time, we grew from about 2000 product deliveries per year to 60,000 products. In terms of contract manufacturing, we have many competitors all over the world, and it has been good to have a stable foundation.
Four years after the new owners came in, they decided to move their activities to Ljungby. At that point, Mikael and two of his colleagues decided to buy Natek. Negotiations began in the summer of 2017 and finished in September that same year.
Mikael became the company CEO and the two others remained in their same positions. Work began on the design of a new plan for Natek with new visions and objectives. They prepared an export plan and returned their attention to products for the armed forces.
- We didn't discontinue subcontracts, but these are no longer our primary focus. There were better profit margins for armed forces products. We also felt we needed to test other potential markets.
Among other things, they became acquainted with a French battery manufacturer that supplies products for the French armed forces.
- Here our product will become a standard component and part of a vehicle. About 200 vehicles will be manufactured up until 2032, which would give us a ten-year contract. Our goal for the export plan is to become the world's foremost producer of the type of chargers we manufacture. We will be prioritising nearby countries, however, and later we can start exploring opportunities in other continents.
Another service they offer their customers is product development.
- Our electronics are being used by another customer, so this is a unique detail produced specifically for the customer. In this case, we develop a system that the customer will later own.
In 2017, the company had a revenue of 23 million SEK and 16 employees. Today that figure has increased to 24 employees and a revenue of 40 million SEK.
- Our goal for the next five years is to achieve a revenue of 100 million SEK, which looks promising given the long-term contract we have now secured. We are expanding and are looking for competent personnel in the areas of manufacturing technology, construction and production.