History & Background
"History is the memory of things said and done."
~ Carl L. Becker
The origin of what is Unitel Technologies today can actually be traced back to 1974 and a small rented garage in Alsip, Illinois. That's when Serge and Ravi Randhava started Xytel Corporation to design and build a new generation of chemical research systems - modular pilot plants equipped with the most modern analog controls available at the time. Early customers included Harshaw Chemical, Amoco Oil, Amoco Chemicals and Argonne National Laboratory.
The Randhava brothers made a good team and remain partners to this date. Serge is a mechanical engineer with a master's degree in industrial engineering and operations research from the University of California at Berkeley, and Ravi has a doctorate in chemical engineering from Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago.
In 1976 Xytel went digital. Microcomputers had just appeared on the scene, and the Randhavas decided to apply this emerging technology for process control and data management. Demand for Xytel's systems grew, and the company moved into two larger facilities in Lombard. In 1978, a major breakthrough occurred - the Research Institute of Petroleum Processing (RIPP) in China ordered 17 modular computercontrolled units for its laboratory in Beijing. Xytel was off and running.
The Chinese Petroleum Corporation (CPC) in Taiwan added momentum with multiple system contracts for its research center in Chia-Yi. Xytel acquired a new 38,000 square foot plant in Mount Prospect, Illinois. It's of geopolitical interest that the earliest unofficial meetings between scientists and engineers from the People's Republic of China and Taiwan took place under Xytel's roof in Mount Prospect.
By 1983, Xytel was clearly recognized as the world’s leader in the pilot plant industry. Its customer base was expanding rapidly and the Randhavas, never ones to look back, responded to this growing demand by establishing a series of strategic partnerships under the Xytel Group umbrella.
Xytel-Bechtel, Inc. (XBI) in Houston, Texas – the “mini-plant company” – a partnership with Bechtel, the largest engineering and construction company in the world. Serge Randhava served as the permanent Chairman of the Board of Directors of XBI, and many of the process technologies now offered by Unitel were first conceived at XBI.
During the mid 80s, the Randhavas set up an organization called Xytel Technologies Partnership (XTP) to explore and develop new process technology opportunities. XTP’s mission was to focus on the future, looking 10-15 years ahead in time. They also established an alliance with SINOPEC in The People’s Republic of China and one with Mitsubishi Chemical in Japan.
In 1991, Serge and Ravi sold the Xytel Group (minus 50% of XTP) to Itochu International. In 1996 the Randhavas repurchased Itochu’s 50% interest in XTP and consolidated its intellectual property portfolio, all available know-how, engineering information and design data under the auspices of an entirely new and independent company called Unitel Technologies, Inc.
"The whole past is the procession of the present."
~ Thomas Carlyle