Skip to main content

Work ethic plus customer focus, equals success

Tech4 designs, builds, starts, then supports business with technology

share arrow printer bookmark flag

September 7, 2022

Tech4 started 25 years ago – on July 8, 1997 – when five coworkers took the leap to create a design and engineer control systems company that, today, provides automation, robotics and power-systems technology.

The name is a shortening of the phrase “technology for automation,” and Michael Fronsee, who is now the principal owner, said “Tech4 represented what we could deliver: automation solutions.”

Fronsee said over the years, Tech4, located at 3547 French Rd. in De Pere, started with a focus on serving original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), applying its engineering expertise to make their equipment competitive or “do something the market wasn’t doing at the time.”

Over the years, he said the business has since grown in scope, noting Tech4’s role is to design, build, start and then support businesses with technology.

Fronsee said in this regard, Tech4 aims to become like a department in the customer’s company, “plugging into their business, doing what we do in and then going away.

The OEM portion of the business, he said, has since been eclipsed by Tech4’s entries into the power systems and robotics spaces.

When the 2008 recession hit and manufacturing slowed, Fronsee said it prompted Tech4 to make a conscious effort to do work for end users.

“That was the beginning of work on the power systems side of the business,” he said. “It was a market we could service easily because we have the technology and the skill sets from working with OEMs, which was harder.”

Fronsee said there also was a lot of opportunity because, as manufacturing went overseas in years past, the electrical infrastructure here sat dormant and wasn’t updated or maintained. When many manufacturing companies moved their manufacturing back to the U.S., he said a lot of work was required to update their infrastructure, and they didn’t have in-house power engineers anymore as most of those departments had been eliminated.

“Back in the day, everyone had their own power-system engineering group,” Fronsee said. “But that changed and adding the power system group helped us enter the end-user market. Fortunately, we had done some automation work for some power-system customers who knew who we were.”

Tech4, which is located at 3547 French Rd in De Pere, is celebrating its 25th year in business. Submitted Photo

In addition, he said power and electrical code had also changed since many manufacturers went offshore with their manufacturing, leaving these (and other) companies at risk for arc flashes – which are the light and heat produced as a result of a type of electrical explosion that results from a connection through air to ground or another voltage phase in the electrical system.

Fronsee said Tech4’s market research pointed them to a company in Finland that had become experts in preventing arc flashes.
“Not only can this blow up equipment, but it can potentially kill people,” he said.

Fronsee said the company in Finland had done research and development on controlling arc flashes and created technology to minimize their risk, becoming the largest supplier of the mitigation technology in the U.S.

“We’ve done more work on this than anybody else, and we have a really cool technology now that helps people safely go home from work every day,” he said.

Since then, Fronsee said Tech4 also added a robotics group to cater to the growing market need.

“The robotics piece of the market has really exploded as there aren’t as many employees available as needed,” he said.

Among the business’ “showpieces,” Fronsee said, was a huge robotic line it created about four years ago in southern Wisconsin for FoxConn, a project that pushed it further into the robotics space.

“That and the power system are the two biggest growth areas for Tech4 in building our client base and end user market,” he said.

While Tech4’s goal is to “plug and play” with a company only as long as their services are needed, Fronsee said it finds there’s plenty of repeat business in different spaces – perpetuating a mindset of entrepreneurialism has also figured into the company’s success.

“I’ve always wanted the guys to have a mindset that whatever we accomplish, there’s a payback to the customer at the end,” he said. “That kind of philosophy asks every employee to behave as an owner.”

Fronsee said it propelled growth as well – growing the De Pere team to 30 people and prompting the addition of a Kentucky engineering office for power systems this past year and an Atlanta sales office a few years ago.

Today, he said Tech4’s reach extends not only to the south and southwest, but beyond, including work for OEMs that in South America, Germany and 30 other countries, something Fronsee said he finds amazing for a company that started with little more than a few professional relationships the initial employees brought over.

“We were profitable that first year and used that money to hire the next people and on and on with growth that’s been organic,” he said. “We built every bit of it, and our revenue stream is now 40 to 50 times what it was our first year, so it’s grown a lot. A lot of that has come in the past decade since we’ve diversified.”

Fronsee said he credits the employees for fueling that, and he also strives to be flexible in work hours to allow for employees to take their kids to school or coach baseball games.

“We let them manage their own schedules, recognizing a work/life balance not only helps with retention, but also giving back to the communities we live in,” he said.

Fronsee said he takes great personal and professional satisfaction from Tech4 and is “super thrilled” to be growing and working with many of the same people who were there from the beginning.

“We’re always looking for ways to help our customers,” he said. “We’re great at sticking to our core business, but we like to say, ‘as long as it has a wire attached to it, and it’s electrical in nature, we’re open to it and may have expertise to give.”

share arrow printer bookmark flag

Trending View All Trending