Gtech’s 20-Year Journey: Innovating Durable, Cordless Tech

Long-lasting performance

From cordless vacuums to e-bikes, Gtech has been creating pioneering products for nearly 20 years and the company continues to innovate

When Gtech CEO Nick Grey founded the company in 2001, he was hoping to make it a ten-year venture. “I wanted to grow the business to a certain level and then sell it,” Nick says, but almost 20 years later, as Gtech continues to thrive, Nick’s original plans seem like a long-distant memory. “It’s become something I love,” he declares. “I still thoroughly enjoy coming to work. When I walk around, I feel very grateful to everybody here that takes on every aspect of being Gtech.”

A large percentage of manufacturing start-ups fail in their first three years of business, so Nick is justifiably proud to be approaching two decades of Gtech. “I can’t believe it’s been nearly 20 years!” he exclaims. “I’ve done my time working from my garage, I’ve worked from my living room, and now to be able to come to work and have such a wonderful team of people, it’s fantastic. The 20th anniversary next year is a big deal for us and we’ll definitely celebrate it.”

After a significant restructuring of the business in late 2018, Gtech entered 2019 leaner, and with a clearer focus on improving its efficiency. The introduction of a central data system helped to streamline the company’s data analysis, making it easier to interpret, and in the second half of the year, Gtech began to see the benefits. “Later in the year, we started hitting our targets again,” Nick states. “We probably had a net profit of about ten per cent, whereas in the first half of the year we more or less broke even. We finished the year with a four or five per cent profit in the end, which was an incredible turnaround during a challenging period. For this reason, we consider 2019 one of our most successful years in some ways.”

More recently, Gtech struck a partnership deal with part of the Halfords Group to stock and service its e-bikes. Nick is looking forward to working with the retailer and hopes the relationship between the two companies can blossom into something even greater. “We would like to nurture and support our partnership with Halfords this year,” Nick explains. “Selling bikes from a distance is pretty difficult, so working with Halfords would be ideal for us.”

Alongside e-bikes, floorcare technology has always been at the heart of Gtech’s offering and its HyLite product is a fitting representation of the innovative cleaning solutions the company provides. Weighing just 1.5kg, the HyLite is a durable, cordless vacuum that Gtech suggests is proving very popular with owners. “Even 2.5 and 3.5kg cordless vacuum cleaners are too heavy for some people,” Nick points out, “so a lot of consumers who couldn’t use cordless vacuums can now use the HyLite. We get a lot of customers telling us how easy it is to use. It’s tiny and light, but it picks up really well. We’re bringing vacuum cleaners into an arena where anyone from 3 to 103 years old can use them. That’s what we’re working on at the moment.”

Improving product quality is another key focus for Gtech in 2020 and Nick recently challenged company engineers to fix all known weaknesses on the company’s entire existing range. “We’ve introduced a special quality report that looks at any products sold within the last three months that have encountered problems. I’ve said to the guys, if you know something can break on our products, fix it,” Nick asserts. “What I want is a situation where, short of someone smashing it with a hammer, we can be sure that our products don’t break.”

As Nick suggests, Gtech places great emphasis on creating the most durable cordless products on the market. The company tests its vacuums up to 1000 hours of use – the standard equivalent of 20 years in the home. “Some people can be quite heavy-handed with their vacuum cleaners and some people treat them very well. We’ve got to make products that everyone can use in every scenario,” Nick insists. “We aim to make a product that will continue to work well, month after month, year after year.”

Since the company was founded, Gtech’s mission has been to produce the most reliable, high-performance, easy-to-use products on the market. In 2008, Nick was worried that the company was losing its way. “We started making lots of different models of almost the same product, slightly different versions of the same thing, but I put my foot down and said no, we’re Gtechgoing to develop the products we love.”

Subsequently, fuelled by Nick’s passion, Gtech has gone from strength to strength. The company has now sold over 22 million products in 19 countries. It’s an inspirational story, but Nick is determined to stay focused on the trials ahead. “Over the decades, you learn the ability to look round corners and see what’s coming,” he says. “Nowadays, we know what challenges are approaching us a good six months before they arrive.”

Gtech continues to tackle technological problems and invest in intellectual property, but from time to time, Nick allows himself to remember how far the business has come. “When I walk around the place, when I look in the workshop and the model-making areas, I realise we can make any product we dream of in there. We’ve got everything we need, and all the skills, to build anything from a clean sheet of paper.”

Products & services: Cordless appliances, e-bikes and home technology