Tavcom Training – 25 years
Happy 25th Birthday to Tavcom Training!
Serving the Security Systems sector for a quarter of a century
1995: A great year to be born!
For those of us who are old enough to have seen it, 1995 was quite an extraordinary year. It certainly had no shortage of fascinating news to digest. ‘Galileo’, for example, became the first spacecraft to orbit Jupiter. Back here on planet Earth, Frank Bruno became WBC World Heavyweight champion and Diana Princess of Wales opened her heart to BBC’s ‘Panorama’. For the first time, pubs in England were permitted to remain open throughout Sunday afternoons and – in the USA – OJ Simpson was found ‘Not Guilty’ in his famous and controversial trial. It was a different world where the average UK house price was £51,634 and there were 2 billion fewer humans alive than there are today.
It was a remarkable and historic twelve months in the business world as well. Microsoft’s ‘Windows 95’ was released of course; eBay went ‘live’ and Amazon was launched … as a website that only sold books.
What an auspicious moment Mike Tennent chose to register Tavcom Training at Companies House and set his fledgeling company off on its hugely successful 25-year voyage! In that time it was to grow from a tiny family business to one of the world’s leading providers of security systems training.
One man’s vision
The story of Tavcom Training will always remain inextricably bound up with the man who founded the company and nursed it through its infancy and its adolescence to confident maturity.
Mike Tennent had become involved with electronics at a young age. As Tavcom’s very first tutor Jon Laws wrote ‘Mike started in electronics when God was a boy! He was involved in electronics since his time in the RAF where he was working with components that glowed in the dark. Tubes were then still in vogue …’ After his RAF apprenticeship, Mike joined the world of commerce and industry at Plessey which manufactured television parts and then his broadcasting experience took him to South Africa where he became involved with security and surveillance.
Returning to the UK in 1983 Mike joined Frowds and the Vision Research Company but by 1995 he had identified the need for high-quality tuition within the security industry which, at that time, was in very short supply. With true entrepreneurial spirit, he decided to start a ‘one-man’ (and woman … in the form of wife Jane) independent security systems training organisation. Tavcom Training was ‘born’ in a small office in the garage of his small house in the Hampshire village of Bishops Waltham! The rest, as they say, is history …
The secrets of success
In the company’s earliest days, conditions were primitive. A handful of training courses were presented in rented rooms in Portsmouth and then at the now derelict Upland Park Hotel in nearby Droxford. Administrative work was carried out in Mike’s home and later in one room at the local Abbey Mill offices by a team of five – which included Mike and Jane.
Since those days Tavcom has changed out of all recognition. Today it boasts 100 different course titles in its annual prospectus and the organisation is managed by a large team of tutors, administrators, sales staff and technicians. Courses are conducted at its own state-of-the-art training facility and offices in Bishops Waltham and at venues all around the world. Increasing numbers of courses are now taken online.
What has been the secret of this extraordinary success? The answer is largely to be found in the comment of tutor Jon Laws in 2017 that ‘Tavcom was started by a great desire to bring professionalism into the market that we had in the early 1990s …’
At that time there were training courses accredited by a variety of industry bodies but no standardised vocational qualifications that were universally recognised by employers in the UK and overseas. This was a clear deficiency that Tavcom set out to rectify.
Following much lobbying and growing support from students and employers alike, the breakthrough came in the form of the Edexcel Foundation and its highly respected and widely recognised BTEC qualifications. After rigorous scrutiny of Tavcom’s training facilities, course content, administrative procedures and tutor expertise, Edexcel accreditation was awarded and the first BTEC courses were launched in 2001.
This partnership represented the perfect vehicle for Tavcom to provide prestigious qualifications. It was a turning point for the company and a ‘game-changer’ for the security industry as a whole. The BTEC initiative won universal interest and acclaim from all sides of the security industry which for many years had been calling for the introduction of quantifiable and accredited qualifications for its personnel. Thanks to Tavcom and Edexcel, such qualifications had become a reality.
Important associations were forged with such bodies as the BSIA, SSAIB, Skills for Security and the Career Transition Partnership. Other qualifications were added in the form of City and Guilds Certificates and National Vocational NVQs.
The range of courses and qualifications proved hugely popular and were offered in greater numbers and at higher levels. Such was the demand locally and overseas that training began to be conducted around the world and permanent ‘Training Hubs’ were established as far away as Australia.
Along the way, the company has collected numerous awards and accolades, including ‘Investor in People’ and the prestigious Portsmouth News ’Small Business of the Year Award’ way back in 2005.
Curious Cats and Jelly Babies
If serious professionalism was one side of Tavcom’s coin, a sense of fun has always been the other. Mike believed that a happy ship was a productive ship and he always managed to inject laughter and affection into any situation. The result was an unusually high retention of staff and a reputation among students that Tavcom was an enjoyable place to learn. Mike’s own sense of humour was key to that.
When his animal-loving graphic designer secretly hid images of cats throughout one of the early course brochures Mike saw the funny side and joined in the hunt for them. He encouraged this game as an annual event and the ‘lucky’ cats proliferated year on year. Many a student has spent a coffee break seeking out the mystery moggies. Always the businessman, Mike also calculated that this close examination of the literature might sell a few extra courses! He always had an eye on the ‘bottom line’.
From traditional bowls of Jelly Babies in the training rooms to hilarious ‘skittle nights’ and sumptuous Christmas banquets, anyone who trained or worked at Tavcom will have fond memories of time spent there.
One student’s review perfectly summed up the philosophy that serious work could also be highly enjoyable: ‘Tavcom are obviously well set up with masses of equipment, knowledge and friendly staff. The training centre is clean, modern and stocked with coffee and Jelly Babies. The course I went on was fun, but had a serious side – I learnt a lot and felt tired at the end of each day – a good sign you have worked hard’
The end of an era … and the Changing of the Guard
By 2015 – after a lifetime of hard work and very long hours – Mike was finally beginning to look forward to a well-earned retirement and to spending more time out and about, pursuing his love of photography. So it was that he welcomed a very timely approach from Linx International Group to acquire a major shareholding in Tavcom and to carry the company into a fast-moving technological future. The timing was perfect. Mike commented: “I am delighted with this transition. The shift from a family business to the new international group set-up is one which will see the company build on its excellent reputation …”
Linx CEO David Gill acknowledged the value of Tavcom’s pedigree and reputation: “When you invest in a company such as Tavcom, you not only acquire a superb portfolio of tried and tested accredited training courses, as well as a very large database of satisfied clients, you also gain access to its people. With Tavcom, this is particularly significant …”
Tavcom has risen to even greater heights as a third member of the Linx Group, gradually moving away from its ‘family business’ roots and developing a true corporate identity. Its technical strengths perfectly complement the security management training courses of Perpetuity ARC and the advisory expertise of Linx Consultancy, allowing all three companies to benefit hugely from the presence of the others.
Linx Group’s global reach has provided Tavcom with a wonderful opportunity to ‘spread its wings’ around the world, to such an extent that it opened a brand new purpose-built training centre in Singapore in 2019. A growing selection of online courses have further strengthened its position as a serious international ‘player’.
This year there has also been a major development on UK soil, with the opening of a new training centre in Shipley, Yorkshire which will satisfy a growing demand for Tavcom’s legendary ‘hands-on’ courses in the North.
Significantly, Tavcom has played a huge part in the creation and operation of the Certified Technical Security Professionals (CTSP) Register. This was formed as a means of recognising the competency of Technical Security Professionals fulfilling roles in the security and fire systems sectors. It allows consumers, employers and contractors to search the register to validate professional competence and is endorsed by the BSIA, SSAIB and other recognised industry bodies. The existence of this Register is truly the icing on the cake of Mike Tennent’s legacy and the culmination of his dream.
A life well spent
Sadly Mike Tennent passed away in 2017 but he was able to look back on a life full of achievement. Above all he saw his ‘brainchild’ come to life, flourish and step into the big wide world with a new partner and a very bright future. We feel sure he will be with us in spirit to celebrate the 25-year milestone.
Join us and take a look at how Tavcom Training started, what our tutors and staff members think of us and what our future looks like…
Tavcom Training: training centres through the years
Tavcom Training: our stories and memories
Tavcom Training: find out what our customers and friends think of us
Tavcom Training: security events and our marketing collateral through the years
Tavcom Training: our future looks bright
Tavcom Training: we’ve got some more exciting news