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June 20, 20245 min read

Tait Tough Origins: The history behind the Tait Tough reputation

  
The term "Tait Tough" has been used over the years to describe the ruggedness of various products and led to a series of videos showcasing TP9000 Mission Critical Radios being tested far beyond their intended use. Behind the scenes are tough people who built the company that is now Tait Communications and inspire us to go beyond and do more for our customers. Today, we talk about the origins of Tait Tough, what it means and the legacy that we continue to build upon.

Over the years we’ve had good feedback from customers about the quality and reliability of Tait products. For customers that rely on radios for their safety, many Tait products are designed and tested beyond normal industry standards for performance and rough treatment. 

Some earn the “Tait Tough” badge and are selected for videos that go far beyond the intended use for these products – because why only talk about IP numbers and military standards for water, shock, and dust protection, when we could show you?

This article explores the history behind the Tait Tough badge.

 

Tough People

The Tait Communications company culture to go beyond starts with our founder Sir Angus Tait, who overcame numerous challenges throughout his business and personal life. His father's untimely death in the 1918 influenza epidemic occurred before Angus was born, setting the tone for a life marked by resilience and determination. Angus served in the Air Force during WWII as a second lieutenant radar instructor and upon coming home, he was soon in business designing and assembling mobile radios, pioneering the electronics industry in New Zealand. Angus is also a survivor of the worst shipwreck in modern New Zealand history, having been on business aboard the Wahine inter-island ferry when it capsized in 1968.

Angus inspired the people in his company to aim high and go beyond. Tough is in the company DNA, exemplified by the resiliency of the people of Christchurch where Tait is headquartered who kept production running when the world around them was torn apart by earthquakes in 2011. The city was forever changed, and would take years to recover and rebuild.

 

Success comes from an unwavering dedication to a specific goal, from teamwork in the face of adversity and from aiming high in a competitive world

—Sir Angus Tait

Tough Technology

In the 1980s, some curious Tait engineers conducted an unofficial ruggedness test on a T700 mobile radio, driving over it with a truck!  This playful test led to an iconic photograph that spoke volumes about the ruggedness and strength of the T700, and found its way into the product brochure.

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 T700, pictured in the Sir Angus Tait Museum at Tait Communications’ Head Office in Christchurch, New Zealand accompanied by T700 marketing collateral.

Fast forward to the turn of the 21st century – radios with rugged, chemically-resistant polycarbonate/PET blend panels and lightweight aluminum chassis are now commonplace at Tait and durability testing has continually evolved to create increasingly tough products.

An example of a common Military Standard test is to drop a radio multiple times from 4ft (1.2m) high onto plywood. Tait engineers believed a more rugged test was required, so the height was increased to 5ft (1.6m) and then to 6ft (1.8m) directly onto concrete. The expectation after 52 drops on all faces, edges and corners is that the radio not only remained functional but also remained waterproof, helping to ensure that Tait mission critical radios are tough enough to not just meet, but exceed standards.

In 2007, technological advancements were continuing to shrink the size of computers and communications devices worldwide and Tait was developing the TP8100, one of its smallest and most compact portable radios. To allay any concerns that the lightweight radio would be less durable, Tait Principal Engineer Dan Foster demonstrated using the TP8100 as a hammer to drive a nail into a piece of wood, resulting in the first ever Tait Tough styled video.

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Tait Tough Video Series 

In 2012, Tait launched the TP9400 P25 portable for public safety agencies. To stand out in the huge and highly competitive US market with a relatively small marketing budget, the Tait team opted for a creative approach. Over a meal and a bottle of New Zealand pinot noir, a few colleagues decided to have a bit of fun with the promotional campaign, brainstorming ideas for a series of videos showcasing the TP9400 surviving absurd, non-realistic situations – far beyond expectations for normal use. 

The range of videos released between 2013-14 included the TP9400 getting smashed by a bowling ball, launched by catapult, crushed under a 52 ton tank and dragged through the ocean waves off a pier to see just how far above and beyond the specifications these radios can go. Some customers and dealers have sent us their own Tait Tough videos like this TM9000 that survived a vehicle fire, or this TP9300 thrown from a mountain top.

These videos never seem to get old and are still loved by people over 10 years later, so it is very exciting to be filming new Tait Tough stunts in 2024 with our latest products. So far the new videos take TP9000s skiing, jet boating, freezing them in ice and throwing them off the roof – keep an eye out as there is still much more to come!


As we mentioned, this is all far beyond the intended use of the product – customers are unlikely to find themselves covered by warranty if they purposefully play hockey with their Tait radio, for instance. However, the foundation of quality and reliability through normal use is still there and we’re proud of it. Our customers work in high risk situations and never know when an emergency lifeline is required where the durability of their Tait Tough radio can make a crucial difference.

The Tait Tough brand has grown to include the latest Tait 9000 series mission critical solutions, built upon decades of experience and inspired by our founder Angus Tait.


The latest installment of Tait Tough videos show the TP9700 and TP9800 get put through snow, ice, drops from heights and a ride through Kimi-ākau/Shotover River on the back of a jet boat. See all this and more on the Tait Tough website!

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