Sontay reflects on its history to see how far it has come
With its beginnings in 1974 as an off-shoot and specialist provider of support services to the established Eaton-Williams Group, Sontay has grown considerably over the past 46 years, becoming a market-leader in the supply of sensing and peripheral devices to the HVAC sector. To honour its growth, Sontay recently launched a timeline of its history as a way to remember its momentous 45th year and recognise the company’s important work during the global pandemic.
After quickly establishing itself as a company that prides itself on expertise and service, Sontay – derived from the French word santé which means ‘health’ – successfully moved to its head office and manufacturing base in Edenbridge in 1986. Only a few years after its inception, Sontay was known as a leader in humidity measurement products, OEM condition monitors and sophisticated, mains power disturbance monitors. A new generation of relative humidity sensors and the development of new, low cost temperature sensors took Sontay more directly into the HVAC sector, where customers valued its unique combination of experience, applications expertise and prompt service.
“Since I joined the company in 2001, there have been many changes at Sontay,” begins Stacey Lucas, Commercial & Marketing Director at Sontay. “The company has evolved to become the fantastic international market-leading business it is today. Major changes have come in technology both in our products and the way we work. Fax was the buzz of the day when I joined and we received all orders that way. Nobody contemplated using a laptop and our PCs were so big we kept them under the desk! There were so many manual processes that you wouldn’t dream of doing now.”
“Technology has made great strides forward in supporting working practices and the Building Controls industry,” Stacey continues. “One thing that hasn’t changed is Sontay’s commitment to the highest level of customer service. It is borne from having a team of people who absolutely love to help and take the utmost pride in their work. Letting somebody down is simply not an option and everyone works so hard to give the best experience to our customers. Be it on my giant clunky PC and phone in 2001 or working from home on our laptops with calls coming though on VOIP, that dedication never changes.”
A key part in Sontay’s history is the launch of our first ever catalogue in 1994. This brought the full range of products to our customers and gave the “one stop shop” service that we are still known for now. The catalogue has evolved over the years to provide just the right amount of technical information and detail for customers to be able to select the product most suited to their application. It has often been referred to as the “industry bible”.
After a change in ownership in 2001 where Sontay was able to make substantial investment in its manufacturing facility, the management team at Sontay acquired the company in 2004. This period gave the company the focus it needed; as well as investment in its product development and core product ranges, Sontay was able to streamline its business operation and develop the company into the one it is today. Over the next decade Sontay made pivotal moves in terms of its product offering; launching its revolutionary wireless sensing system, SonNet in 2010 and moving to the world of smart communication protocols four years later. Dubbed a ‘game-changer’ for the HVAC industry, SonNet won ‘Product Technical Innovation of the Year’ at the 2011 BCIA Awards and was highly commended at the HVR ceremony that year.
Just as Sontay progressed into the realm of smart sensing, the Sontay Academy was born in 2015. Partnering with BCIA, the academy runs courses from both Sontay and the BCIA. Its subsequent success has catapulted Sontay to the forefront of building control education, with the company being recognised for this achievement in many awards categories.
Where the industry is seeing some of the biggest evolution in the past 20 years, Sontay has kept in sync with the developments and introduced a full range of smart communication devices in 2016. Last year’s milestone was testament to the company’s reputation as a leading supplier within the HVAC industry.
After welcoming a new Managing Director at the beginning of this year, Sontay, as with all companies across the globe, was tasked with the unique duty of navigating its operation and workforce through a global pandemic. “Going into 2021 and beyond, we will continue meet the needs of our customers in an ever-changing industry and environment,” says Mark Newton, Managing Director at Sontay. “We will continue to provide our customers with the first-class service levels they have come to expect, whilst adopting new methods of communication in the new world that we find ourselves in.”
The Sontay team came together and weathered the most difficult, unusual and relentless storm and continued to supply products to key infrastructure including hospitals on the frontline of the pandemic. Many of Sontay’s products have been key to the pandemic effort and still play a part in resuming a semblance of normality such as air quality, occupancy levels and relative humidity for bacteria control.
After a trialling year, Sontay is proud of how far it has come over the past 46 years and is looking forward to an equally prosperous next few decades at the helm of smart communications and building control systems.