A technologist and entrepreneur who founded Isotech and two metrology businesses dies at 78
On the evening of 24th July 2020, John Tavener passed away peacefully in hospital with his family by his side. He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Fay, his two sons, grandchildren, cousin and nephews and niece. The funeral took place on Thursday 13th August 2020.
John was diagnosed with inoperable cancer in late 2018. As a technologist, he was always trying to see the science behind the disease in an attempt to beat it and consequently underwent several experimental medical trials, at an Oncology Centre of Excellence in the UK, in an attempt to overcome the disease.
John obtained his Bachelor’s degree at the City University of London, and his Master’s in control theory at Cranford Institute of Advanced Technology; he was a Chartered Electrical Engineer.
His career started at Rolls Royce and Associates before leaving in 1970 to become co-founder and technical director of Sensing Devices Limited, SDL.
After ten years he left SDL and in 1980 established Isothermal Technology Ltd (Isotech). He started the company with wife Fay, father Charles and sister Wendy. In 1983 John founded Thermal Developments International, TDI as sister company and was Managing Director until 2009.
Isotech started by manufacturing thermocouple referencing equipment used in the power industry. As John established the laboratory, he found a lack of suitable temperature calibration equipment. What did exist came from separate suppliers, one for an instrument, one for resistance thermometers and another for heat sources. Unable to find appropriate equipment John designed and built his own solutions – the dream of providing clients with a full range of calibration solutions was born.
Under his leadership of 40 years Isotech went on to develop a range of calibration equipment and products that are used in the majority of the world’s National Metrology Institutes; his vision succeeded.
John held patents relating to ‘improvements in or relating to the calibration of thermometers’ and for a ‘temperature measuring device’. In 2017 John was delighted to receive the Queen’s Award for Enterprise, in the Innovation Category – one of his career highlights.
Tributes to the contribution John made came in quickly from leading international scientists, customers, colleagues and others in the industry recognising both the inspiration and contribution he has made to the metrology world.
John was always full of original ideas, and had the passion and determination to bring them to fruition. Trusting his instinct over a spreadsheet he was never shy to invest in new ideas and technology. He delighted in creating opportunities benefiting so many people around the world.
John was an engaging and charismatic speaker, with a gift for communicating complex ideas in an easy to follow and entertaining way. Many from around the world speak of how John would freely share his ideas and knowledge for the benefit of others.
John was at his happiest in the laboratory, or with hands on development, presenting to a live audience leaving meetings and committee meetings to others. He listed his hobbies as “woodwork, gardening and temperature metrology” – and excelled in all of these dedicating so much determined effort into everything that he did, he was not one to ‘give up’.
He was a caring and generous host and again many have paid tribute to his warm engaging personality, original and creative thinking not to mention his sense of humour.
Those of you who know Isotech will be aware of the special relationship and importance of family within the business and all are sad to lose our founder, mentor and inspirational president.
At Isotech our thoughts remain with Fay and the wider family, he will be greatly missed.