In today’s turbulent economic climate when a company like Identipet, whose product line is a household word, turns 21 years old, it is gratifying to know there are tried and tested products that can confidently be relied on.
In the 1980’s a new technology of glass encapsulated microchips was invented, patented and marketed by the Destron Fearing Corporation, in the USA, and selected countries abroad. South Africa was one of the first to introduce these rice-grain size passive transponders. It was to be not for animal use, but as a means of identifying and proving ownership of motor cars. The company was ID Car (Pty) Ltd. It was the brainchild of Bill Straughan, an electronics engineer who had a vision to combat car theft – even in those early days. His idea enjoyed instant, but short-lived success. Passive transponders do not have a power source, and therefore cannot send out a signal. A signal was what the car industry needed to track stolen and missing cars. Bill’s product was to be the precursor of Tracker and Matrix, products which have been refined and perfected in combating crime in South Africa.
Undaunted, Bill Straughan’s next port of call was the animal application for which these chips had now been perfected. It was clear that these unalterable microchips held the identification lifeline for animals, to give them an electronic ID book, and prove their ownership beyond any doubt. Identipet blanketed the animal welfare environment with microchip readers to read the growing numbers of chipped animals countrywide.
It was to be expected that opportunistic companies, the “rats and mice”, would try to muscle in on the action with their own versions of microchips. Equally predictable was that they failed, and left behind a legacy of microchipped (but unidentifiable) animals, and a sour taste in the industry. From this sprung a 20 year association, and unique endorsement of product that Identipet has had with the National Council of SPCAs, for reliability, service and unwavering welfare support.
When Bill and his wife Vicky decided to “go sailing” in 1999, Identipet was acquired by Dr Bruce Finnemore and new Tukkies graduate, son Mark. Product and market expansion took Identipet (the sole Southern African distributor for world giant Destron-Fearing) into a widened field of animal and industrial applications, whose products are now sold in 48 countries.
The highest compliment that can be paid to any product is to try and copy it, and to emulate it’s performance and market. Thanks to diversity, inventiveness, world patents, and range and quality of products, Identipet stands head and shoulders above any would be competition.
Product diversity today includes applications in animals, feedlots, plants, endangered species, industrial, mining, firearm and safety, commercial laundries, taxi-recapitalisation, taxidermy and tourism, to name but a few.
Identipet has an impressive range of patented products and advantages such as “BioBond™” anti-migration technology, “Bio-Thermo™” temperature sensing technology, and the ability to supply all types of microchips, including 10 and 15 digits, ISO chips and ISO quality readers, and backed by the largest actively managed database of animal and industrial microchip applications in Africa. Is there then any doubt that this family run, niche market company will remain the dominant RFID player for many years to come, especially as the company looks ahead to future biosensor chips that track an animal’s hormonal changes, blood pressure and eventually disease?
When asked if he had any regrets, Dr. Finnemore replied that Identipet’s push into microchipping of the human population in South Africa, had been “put on ice”, as it was 5 years ahead of its time. Doesn’t that just speak volumes for the focussed vision of Identipet?