Interview with Jorge Subirana, Executive Director of TDI
Tell us briefly about your company (premises, staff…) and the range of products you develop.
Our company has its headquarters in Gavà (Barcelona), near the airport. Here the main activity of the company is focused, and they are developed the commercial, technical and R+D+i work. We also have an office in Madrid.
At present in TDI we are working a total of 13 people between commercial, technical, laboratory and administrative staff, dedicated exclusively to analytical Oenology. A young, but highly qualified and prepared team. It is a family business, which allows us to offer the flexibility of this kind of companies but without forgetting the quality, rigour and resources of a big company.
Our products are designed and developed only for Enology and adapted to market needs. The wide range of products that can be from the most sophisticated analyser to a simple titrator allows us to advise the client at all times the product that best suits to its needs. Our portfolio is the only one that can provide both chemical analysers and FTIR analysers.
You consider yourselves to be the pioneers in Spain in oenological analysis and sequential analysers. How was this work made before the entry into the market of your machines?
When I came to Spain, from France, in 1986, the enological industry was in a phase in which only large wineries could access to the purchase of analytical material, due to its high cost, and it was only profitable if they were made a lot of samples. The few companies equipped were using the technique of continuous flow. This technique, also used in France, was complex, cumbersome and expensive.
Once known and studied the idiosyncrasy of the Spanish market, we were able to research and develop the right materials, fully adapted to the Spanish wineries. It meant a great human and economic effort that none of the big companies wanted to do as it was a very small market. Sequential analysers provided in this way, ease, convenience and much lower analytical costs. In parallel we developed a range of lyophilized enzymatic reagents and colorimetric reagents, thus becoming the first and only company in this sector offering a comprehensive service, that is: machine, reagent and oenological advice.
What do you think your company has contributed to the sector over these 25 years?
I would like to think I’ve contributed a grain of sand to the sector. From the beginning I have preached the importance of analysis to get quality. In these 27 years TDI has done a great educational work. When I arrived at the Spanish market many wineries did not give the importance the laboratory deserves, it was the great forgotten at the time of investment. Today, everyone knows that we have to focus on quality and this requires controlling the entire winemaking process and progressing analytically. TDI has become the company leader in the sector because, as I said before, we don’t only sell the instruments and the reagents, but we also provide the advice that both wineries and oenological laboratories require.
Which analytical equipments should have nowadays any oenologist?
All depends on the kind of winery. For example, we can find a very small winery that can be equipped with an ebullometer or distiller, a pH metre and a Jolly semi-automatic analyser allowing them to accurately analyse over 20 parameters; and we can find a big winery being able to have working together a FTIR + UV/Vis analyser (Bacchus 3 Multispec) and a chemical analyser Miura.
Currently oenologists are prepared and know that if you want to offer quality, you have to provide your laboratories with some essential equipments. TDI, having a wide range of analysers can advise at all times the most appropriate instrument for each occasion.
Your range is designed for laboratory work. Have you also thought about developing portable equipments that the winegrower can carry with him for analysis at field?
It is true that recently they have appeared on the market some small equipments that, it is said, they are able to analyse directly in the vineyard, but if you want to perform rigorous and precision analysis, they are not enough. Our analysers are prepared for the laboratory, where you meet the appropriate conditions to perform the analysis with the utmost reliability and rigour. However, our instruments can also be used at the reception bay. Indeed, our new analyser Bacchus 3 is intended to perform the two functions. It may be in the lab, but at harvest time you can easily move it to the reception. Its modularity allows the oenologist to move it himself with no need of our technicians’ help.
Despite the good reputation and international recognition of our wines, consumption in Spain has fallen in recent years. To what extent has this situation affected the industry of equipments for oenological analysis? And to TDI?
The strong crisis affecting our country is evident that harms all sectors, including wine. Unfortunately, crazy things have been made, and some wineries have closed down. The crisis has made analysers’ demand to decrease, but it is in these times when you cannot surrender, you have to work much harder and more than ever you have to offer a higher quality in your products and services. TDI, despite the crisis, continues researching and developing new equipments and techniques.
How important is it for your company the research and development? How much do you allocate to this purpose (staff, financial resources, facilities…)?
As I said before, only the companies investing in projects and advancing technologically will survive. That is why for four years, TDI has actively participated in conjunction with the Rovira i Virgili University and several wineries, including Bodegas Miguel Torres between them, that was the responsible of leading the project CENIT-Demeter, studying issues of phenolic maturity. At present, although such study is completed, we continue collaborating with the URV to go more deeply into the obtained results. We also continue with the development of new instruments and analytical techniques and hope to be able to present news in a short time.
What arguments would you use to try to convince a potential buyer to purchase a TDI equipment instead of a competitor’s one?
You will allow me not to reveal my commercial strategies. However it is obvious that many years of experience vouch for us. We are the only company in the market dedicated exclusively to Oenology. Our competitors, newcomers to the oenological market, come from the clinical sector or others; so we always say that we are the only specialists and the only creators of the techniques. Anyway, answering your question, what I would say to a potential customer is what we say in the slogan of our advertising campaign of this year: “Analyse our products closely and you will see the difference. TDI satisfies your needs”.
Your company has a new subsidiary in France. What is the evaluation and the rate of penetration of TDI in the international market?
Yes, in 2012 we created TDIF, our subsidiary in France. Its activity is mainly focused on the development of the infrared for Oenology. TDIF is also the center of exports of TDI. Together with TDI, they are already exporting to countries like Portugal, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Romania, Hungary, Moldova and Russia among others. We are also starting to receive requests of distribution from points outside Europe as Australia, America and South Africa.
TDI participated in the last edition of Enomaq 2013. How would you value your passage through the exhibition?
Indeed, we have been in Enomaq 2013. Due to the crisis we were afraid that many people don’t attend it and we are pleasantly surprised by the number of visitors to the event. We had invested a lot of both economic and physical efforts. Now it’s time to get return from the many contacts made at the fair.
Which new products did you introduce? Describe them, please.
At the stand we presented all the analysers range, both chemical and infrared ones, as well as titrators and distillers. We introduced two new products: the new Miura and Bacchus 3.
The Miura has considerable improvements compared to the previous models such as, among others, the rotary dispensing system, automatic washing of reaction and reading cuvettes, a great quality photometer and also its volumetric analysis system has been improved. Thus we have achieved an analyser with an excellent value for money, and we can offer, once more, to customers cost savings in reagent consumption.
With Bacchus 3 we have achieved to reduce the costs of maintenance and repair, its operation is easier and its purchase price is more competitive and all this without losing any of the technical qualities of its predecessor, the Bacchus II, that was already considered the most reliable and technologically advanced in the market.