When Cesar Eloy Pérez founded Technotense in 2019, he wanted to create a company that would professionalize the industry of designing, building and installing lightweight tensile structures.
“I wanted to change the way structures were made in Mexico,” he says. “There were a lot of people who weren’t very professional and were making things how they wanted, instead of how specified. And sometimes they made off with the money.”
Before starting the company in the state of Jalisco in Mexico, Pérez, who is a registered architect in Mexico, already had substantial experience in the field of architecture and design.
He had received a degree in architecture from the University of Guadalajara and gone on after college to work in design and construction of large housing developments.
Eventually, he turned his talents to working in tensile architecture, which is a structural system that predominantly uses tension instead of compression.
From 2009 to 2018, he was employed in the design and sales departments for Lonas Lorenzo, a 40-year-old company that specializes in canvas and architectural membranes.
Along the way, he earned a master’s degree from the Institute of Lightweight Engineering and Structural Biomechanics at the Vienna University of Technology in Austria.
“I went there four to five times a year for face-to-face classes,” he says. “I really enjoyed it. It enabled me to network with people from 14 different countries.”
While there, he and other students were given an assignment of quoting a price for installing a lightweight structure in their own countries. Seeing the difference between the lower cost he could provide for a project in Mexico compared to some European countries gave Pérez an idea.
“This was when I started thinking about making my own company,” he says. “I thought, ‘We can offer a quality product anywhere in the world.’”
Following a dream
Pérez founded Technotense with eight employees. It has now grown to about 100. There are about 20 people working in welding the membranes, about 60 in construction of the steel structures and installation of membranes, and about 20 who are architects, engineers, accountants, receptionists or other administrative staff.
From the very beginning, he wanted to make sure employees fully understood the process of installing the structures and was intent on training them to do it in a professional way.
“For everybody who is hired, we give them a small introduction to tensile structures,” Pérez says. “It takes them about two months to understand the process. We stay close to them as they learn the process.”
In the first year of Technotense opening its doors for business, the company sent out about 100 business proposals and won 10 projects.
In contrast, between January and March this year, the company has submitted about 40 proposals and has already gotten seven jobs.
Pérez says satisfied customers have been a big contributor to the success of Technotense.
One way the company focuses on improving quality and professionalism is by keeping clients well informed of the progress of their projects.
“We send clients regular updates on how the project is going,” he says. “I like to give the clients the real deal. I don’t like to hide anything. I like that they can check the progress of the project any step of the way.”
He also doesn’t want clients to be shocked when they receive a bill.
“There are no surprises or extra costs,” he says. “We like to be totally clear with clients about the process and objectives.”
Early on in his business, Pérez decided the company should take charge of as many of the processes involved in creating, building and installing a structure as it could.
About six months after the company started, it hired four employees who focused on welding membranes. About two years ago, the company also started making its own steel structures.
Pérez prefers to rely on his own employees rather than on subcontractors for these tasks.
“It gives us better control over quality,” he says. “We train our people so they know how to do it. It’s easier to control something if your team is focused and working together and all are looking in the same direction.”
He also likes to stay in close touch with every aspect of an installation.
“I try to be involved in all of the processes, from planning everything through construction,” he says.
While the numbers of employees in the company has increased, Pérez says he still relies on a small group of about a half-dozen people who were with Technotense when it started.
“This is my core team and we solve everything together,” he says. “If we have a problem to solve, we have a brainstorming session and solve it together.”
He also wants the structures the company builds to last well into the future, even after his company’s involvement in a project is done.
“I want the structures to be there in 20 years or 40 years. We are a safe company that builds and designs carefully,” he says.
While Technotense builds both structures that are intended to be permanent and ones that are temporary, building a steel structure that will last 30 to 40 years is no small feat.
“With lightweight structures, the steel structure needs to be done with a lot of care,” he says. “It needs to stand even if a hurricane comes along and takes the membrane away.
“I want to focus on the U.S. market,” he says. “I know we can make good quality projects there.”
While there are stresses associated with his job, such as ensuring employees are trained properly, keeping in touch with clients and making sure they understand the process of installing a lightweight structure, Pérez says there is nothing else he’d rather be doing.
“I love what I do every day,” he says. “I enjoy sales, design and, as an architect, I enjoy when we build. There is no area of what I am doing that I don’t enjoy.”
Annemarie Mannion is a freelance writer based in Willowbrook, Ill.
Photography by JuanMa Pineda–Lifestyle Photographer, juanmapineda.com
SIDEBAR: Project Snapshot
Oxígeno Mall, Heredia, Costa Rica
Talk about taking it to the finish line. A project at the Oxígeno Mall in Heredia, Costa Rica, was one that Cesar Pérez will never forget.
Technotense, the company he founded, used EFTE, an air-filled and tension skinned architectural membrane, for the project that was about 45 meters in diameter and that was designed to cover a food court and other recreational features of the mall.
“The challenge was that it was fabricated in Germany,” Perez says. “They sent it out by plane, but we needed to install it in a very short window of time.”
It was the rainy season and the company’s challenge was to install it during a time when a heavy rain was not expected. On the designated day, the crew started installation at 5 a.m. and finished at 7:30 p.m., just before the skies opened and rain hit.
“It was dangerous because if it was a heavy rain and if it penetrated the membrane, it could make it collapse until the pressure inside the cushion takes the water out,” he says.
Pérez says he recently revisited the project and found that it was still looking and functioning as well as the day it was installed.
“I am super proud of this project,” he says. “When I saw it, I wanted to cry because I can see how beautiful it looks after four years.”
What is your biggest concern when working with a new client?
Of course, not every project is smooth sailing and challenges are part of the daily routine. Cesar Pérez tries to help clients better understand all of the factors, both predictable and unexpected, that may affect the design and installation of a project.
“We need to teach clients about wind and snow melt and weather problems so they understand why a structure needs to be designed the way it is,” he says.
The most stressful part of his job is when clients don’t keep to a timeline for completing tasks required on their end. These may include preparing the ground for an installation or waterproofing the top level of a structure. Sometimes they do it incorrectly, too early, or too late.
“They don’t have their timelines right,” he says. “Sometimes these delays get me stressed too much.”