When summer is in full swing and storms and lightning envelops the region on a daily basis, that's when Bay area residents’ thoughts tend to turn to surge protectors for their home or office.
But for Largo-based Ditek Corp., surge protection is a worldwide, year-round business.
For nearly 25 years Ditek, which is located at ., has produced, sold and distributed surge protectors of various capacities to a wide variety of clients, from mom-and-pop shops to government institutions.
And even though Ditek has grown into a global player in the field of surge protection, with millions of dollars in sales per year and more than 100 employees, owners Bob and Joanne McIntyre have stayed true to their roots.
“I believe every businesses, no matter what the size, has an obligation to give back to the community,” Bob McIntyre says.
“In our industry, we’re competing with China and Mexico in terms of manufacturing,” Joanne adds. “We’re determined to keep manufacturing right here in Largo.”
From Garage Startup to Global Corporation
Bob McIntyre got involved in the surge protection business by accident while he was working as a salesman for a sporting goods company back in the late 1980s.
After meeting a man at a party and hearing that he was making surge protectors in his garage, McIntyre, a Navy veteran who moved to Florida from New York while in his 20s, decided to retire from travelling and get into the budding field.
“He was the money and I was the sales,” McIntyre explains. “No one was really doing it at the time ... but in 1988 surge was becoming more well known.”
What began as a three-man, garage-based operation is now a 120-employee corporation housed in a 50,000-square-foot building on 11 acres in Largo.
Today Ditek is one of the leading manufacturers of high and low voltage surge protectors used in security panels, fire alarm systems and voice and data recording, among other devices.
“We see the industry as a growing industry,” Bob McIntyre says. “Surge protection is always going to be there, because there is always a need to protect information.”
'One Big Family'
Despite having its components in facilities around the world, including ports, financial institutions and even the White House, Ditek is very much a tight-knit, family business.
The McIntyre’s two daughters, Melissa and Wendy, play prominent roles in the company, and grandson Corey is working in the manufacturing shop in the back while attending college.
In addition, many employees have been with the company for dozens of years, and the McIntyres appreciate and respect each and every one of them.
“The secret to a business like ours is ... we’ve been able to get great people, and keep great people,” Bob says.
“We’re one big family,” Joanne adds.
Another important aspect of Ditek is giving back to the community.
For decades the McIntyres have sponsored Little League teams, donated money to area attractions such as Largo Central Park’s Veteran’s Court, supported local charities, and sat on boards such as the Pinellas County Education Foundation and the Gold Shield Foundation.
Bob McIntyre believes every business, no matter the size, has an obligation to give back to the community that supports it.
“When Ditek started, I sponsored one little League team. One became two, two became four ..." he recalls.
“I worry about smaller companies who don’t think they can do it. Small businesses can start off small. One Little League team means a lot to 14 kids and their parents."
“You don’t have to start off like Honeywell, giving a million dollars for a library," McIntyre says. "Just do something, anything, and I promise it will come back to you.”