You may or may not have heard the name Tech Mark, and you probably haven’t heard the name Rojek very often. But spread the word! The two companies have joined forces to bring you one of the best values in European woodworking equipment.
The Rojek line includes table and panel saws, combination machines, planers, jointers, mortisers, shapers, and dust collection systems for both hobbyists and professionals. According to Keith Jackson, Rojek Product Manager, Little Rock-based Tech Mark has been marketing European woodworking equipment in the United States for 20 years. Up until five years ago, it was known for its high quality lines of commercial framing equipment and specialty molding machines. Then, recognizing the potential for higher-end, traditional European woodworking equipment, it identified Rojek (pronounced roi-yeck) as a company with the quality and flexibility to successfully enter the American hobbyist market.
Founded in 1921 and enduring the devastation of World War II and the rigors of communist government, Rojek had enjoyed a revitalization in 1989 & with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Today the company’s products are sold in nearly 40 countries around the world, and Tech Mark has exclusive distribution in the United States.
“It’s been really nice to work with them,” explained Keith. “So often there’s an adversarial relationship between dealers and manufacturers, but Rojek has been right on top of our requests for modifications and makes adjustments for our markets. For instance, unlike some European companies that have unique and difficult to match arbor sizes, all Rojek machines for the U.S. market have standard 5/8″ arbors. And we’re one of the first companies to be able to offer a sliding table that’s within a format type slider & like a panel saw slider & and can still handle a dado blade!”
Rojek’s easy addition of a dado capability is especially amazing, considering dado cuts are virtually unknown & and in fact are banned by CE (a more authoritative European version of our UL) regulations.
Keith was hired as Rojek Product Manager in January 2001 to reach the high-end hobbyists and small shops who represent the product line’s natural market.
At the wood shows — a key vehicle for reaching that market — Keith estimates that only about 5% of people attending represent buyers. But to Keith, all woodworkers represent potential buyers & when they reach a point in their hobby where they want a major upgrade in equipment or even make the step into commercial woodworking.
And why should they consider Rojek?
“European machines are part of a long tradition of quality and workmanship and the market there simply won’t accept a low-end, cheap machine,” Keith noted. “With their systems of guilds and apprentices, they have a craftsman mentality, where even in commercial operations a single woodworker builds an entire piece of furniture from scratch to completion. That’s why combination machines are so popular over there and why they’re so perfect for the serious hobbyist over here. And that’s one reason European companies have been able to maintain domestic manufacturing.”
The company’s PK300V table saw is comparably priced with a Powermatic or Delta Unisaw, but it fits into a higher quality category with other European woodworking equipment. The major difference between it and equipment from Hammer, Felder, and Mini Max are the standard options it offers for a lower price.
“Our built-in features include reversing spindles, interchangeable spindles, four knife cutter heads, 12” saw blades, and built in scoring machines, explained Keith. “You’d pay extra to get these features on the competition, on top of paying a higher basic price!”
As an example, Keith cites the built-in, standard, professional sliding table, which eliminated the frequent problems of aftermarket additions typical of most U.S. manufactures. And according to Keith, due to more stringent EU regulation, the equipment’s safety and dust control systems are decades ahead of those in the United States.
The best way to see the Rojek line is on the trade show circuit. The company does not have outside sales and sells directly via the shows, brochures, and its website. But with equipment on the high-end, it’s not unusual for prospective buyers to fly in and try it out. Once a sale is completed, most service needs are so minor that the owner can usually be talked through the solution by Tech Mark’s technical services department. Eighty percent of parts can be shipped out the same day, and unlike many companies that want everything shipped back, more complicated service is usually arranged locally.
Keith is optimistic about the potential for growth for the Rojek line and for woodworking in general.
“Woodworking is the act of creation,” he explained. “The solid wood smell, the feel of the wood under your hand & there’s nothing quite like it for relieving stress and giving you a feeling of accomplishment. We just need to get out the word.”