John and Alex DeToro, at the
center of the photo, are surrounded by other
employees for Techteriors. The Mequon-based business
is being recognized by Ozaukee Economic Development
as the medium-sized business of the year. The two
owners said they give a lot of credit to their
employees for the company’s success.
MEQUON - The timing could not have been worse – nor
could it have actually been better – for John and
Alex DeToro to start Techteriors.
“We started in October 2001, which was just after
9/11,” said Alex DeToro, now vice president of
marketing and co-owner of the Mequon company.
At the time, the entire country was at a standstill.
The economy was stagnant. Nothing much of anything
was happening anywhere. But the DeToros were pretty
sure they had a great idea for a new business.
“My parents had been building a home and wanted it
fully automated, and they were working with a
company from out East,” said Alex. “John basically
PMed (project-managed) the whole job for them. That
was when we realized there was an untapped
opportunity in the area.”
“Other than what were essentially stores focusing on
stereo components, there really wasn’t a local
company doing what I had done,” said John DeToro,
president of Techteriors.
John DeToro’s background was in construction and
finance; Alex’s was in marketing. They had both
grown up with fathers who owned their own
businesses, and more importantly, they shared a deep
entrepreneurial bug. Both had started working at the
age of 13, and neither was a stranger to hard work.
“We ended up being a true startup – we picked our
name, our focus … and we started out with four
employees,” said John DeToro. “Nearly 15 years
later, two of them are still with us, as well as a
few we hired during those early years.”
Since then, the company has grown to 57 employees
and two locations, one in Mequon and another in
Delafield. It is also the recipient of Ozaukee
Economic Development’s mid-sized Business of the
As a business, Techteriors specializes in the design
and installation of custom audio, video and control
systems for residential and commercial customers.
While the company remains involved in new
construction projects, the Techteriors team also
does retrofit projects, in which environments are
designed and installed in existing construction.
“Essentially, the hardware and products we install
can be found in electronics specialty stores,” said
John DeToro. “But people come to us because of the
service we provide. That’s what differentiates us.”
The company primarily works in a 150-mile radius of
Mequon, and opened the Delafield location both to
give their employees west of Milwaukee a closer home
base and to more easily reach out to the market in
“We generally only do projects in the area, with one
exception: we have had businesses who have a
headquarters here want us to work in another
location,” said DeToro. “It makes it so much easier
for them to have the same technology in both places.
The same is also true if someone has a second home
somewhere. We’re happy to do those projects for our
What also sets the company apart is the internal
philosophy the DeToros use.
“We really wanted to create a culture where people
wanted to work here,” said Alex DeToro. “We wanted
to make it family friendly, and give people the
authority to take care of things. It has also been
really important that we focus on telling the truth
– that’s part of our core values. The end result is
that very few people leave us, and when they do,
it’s typically due to a relocation. We’ve tried very
hard to make this a great place to work.”
John DeToro agreed, noting that customer focus
remains the company priority, but it happens through
the employees. “We look at it this way: The first
step is to look at what is the right thing to do for
the customer,” he explained. “The second step is to
look at what is right for the employee. And the
final step is to look at what’s right for the
company. The interesting thing is that we never get
down to the third step because we don’t need to. The
success is in the first step, and then the other two
While the Techteriors team works with the latest and
greatest technologies, the ever-changing landscape
is also not an issue.
“Technology is our daily grind; we don’t see that
big tidal wave of change because we work with it
every day,” said John. “We have some incredibly
creative people working with us and they really get
into the challenge of technology. Sometimes they’ll
take the new things home and push the limits, which
is great for us – they’re smart, they know how to
install it and they know how to fix it if things
aren’t working quite right. They have a lot of fun
with that side of the business.”
In the 15 years the DeToros have been in business,
they have been conscious of what has driven their
ongoing success. In fact, the company was nominated
for the Ozaukee Economic Development award by a
customer, Paul Buzzell of Johnson Level & Tool.
“We really owe everything to our employees and our
customers,” said Alex DeToro. We wouldn’t be here
today without them. Receiving this award was very
humbling, but we are very proud of it. It’s a joy to
come here every day and work with them.”
“It really is about the team we have in place,”
agreed John DeToro. “We have great people here, and
they attract even more great people – it’s like a
tree branching out, and it just keeps growing.