By Nick Pernokas
Raphael Ohayon started Raphael Sewing Machines in 1974, in Montreal, Canada, as a repair shop. He was also a dealer for the Singer Industrial machines that were being produced at that time. The textile and fur industries were strong in the Montreal area then and Raphael had a large pool of clients. In the 90s, local production moved overseas and Raphael had to adapt. As many local sewing machine companies went out of business, Raphael Sewing Machines reinvented themselves. They shifted their focus to smaller startup companies and designers. They realized that these people could benefit from the personalized level of service that they had always provided the larger companies. Around 2001, the company name was changed to Techsew, which was what they called the sewing machines that they were selling then.
“Selling our own brand gives us more control over the manufacturing,” says Ron Ohayon. “We can produce them to our specifications and have better quality control.”
Today, over 40 models of Techsew machines are available for all types of sewing industries. They also make cutting and skiving machines. The parts and machines are made in a variety of places, but final assembly and testing is done at the Techsew facility in Montreal. Before the machine is shipped to the customer, it is set up ready to go, samples are sewn on it and the machine is left threaded for the customer. This process eliminates many issues that a person can have with setting up their machines. The customer can use a Techsew sewing machine within 15 minutes of getting it.
“We know we’re dealing with a lot of customers who have never even used a sewing machine before,” says Ron.
Ron and his brother Mike, Raphael’s sons, handle much of the day-to-day operations with the help of nine employees in their new 7500-square-foot facility, and a few techs on the road. In the early 2000s, Ron graduated from college and joined Mike and Raphael in the family business. E-commerce was just starting on the internet, and Mike and Ron decided to give eBay a try. It was pretty uncommon to sell industrial sewing machines online then, but they had some success so they built their own website next. Getting in on the ground floor with the way the world was starting to do business served them well. They were able to reach out to the smaller shops directly.
Today, Ron handles the marketing and sales side of the business, while Mike handles the import and export management as well as technical support. Raphael continues to lend his expertise on the technical side, particularly in the training of new staff.
“A vast majority of our business is exports.”
Eighty percent of Techsew machines go to the U.S. The balance goes all over Canada and to Australia, Asia and Europe. In the area of leather goods, a majority of their sewing machines go to the production of items like wallets, handbags and belts.
“We are seeing a resurgence of the finer, high-quality leather goods, and that’s where we’re seeing a lot of success.”
Ron tries to direct his customers to the most appropriate machine for the product that they’re making. He finds that this is an advantage for Techsew because they have so many models to pick from; as opposed to a company that has fewer types of machines, and has to pigeonhole the customer into a less specialized machine.
The model 5100 was designed for saddle makers, holster makers and others doing heavier leather work. It’s a heavy-duty machine with a longer arm and powerful feeding mechanism. The 5100 Special Edition comes with additional bells and whistles, including a laser guide for stitching and an automatic needle position system, so your needle always stops in the down position for those difficult turns and corners. The 5100’s prices start around $2895.
Model 2750 is just the thing for light to medium leather goods like wallets and bags. The 2750 Pro Package comes with the laser guide and automatic needle positioning as well. The price tag starts around $2000.
Techsew offers tech support for the life of the machine. They accomplish this through phone and email. With modern technology, it’s easy to share videos and photos with a technician and discuss them in real time. Techsew also has some great videos on the internet about their different models of sewing machines.
Techsew has distributors in the United States, which makes it even easier for U.S. leatherworkers to do business with the Canadian company. They also sell their products on Amazon. Most of the machines are shipped directly to the final customer from their facilities in Montreal. Techsew handles all of the customs arrangements, so the customer never has to deal with them.
“Most customers don’t even know where we’re located. We don’t want to add any roadblocks to doing business with us.”
Today’s younger customers expect companies like Techsew to be easily available through a variety of platforms. Techsew accomplishes this not just by phone, but through their new website, as well as their presence on Facebook and Instagram.
“We want to continue growing, but we want to keep it a family business. We have very family-oriented goals. We feel it’s something you don’t see as often anymore.”
To find out which Techsew machine might fit your business, you can call Ron at 866-415-8223 or go to www.techsew.com.
Techsew Sewing Machines
Montreal, QC Canada H4T 1N1