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Another company on the move!

Another company on the move!

Namakor is proud to highlight the important evolution of one of its portfolio companies: e2i(formerly GGI solutions).

The NAMAKOR team is justifiably proud of the exceptional evolution of e2ione of its portfolio companies (previously known as GGI Solutions) under the leadership of its CEO, Mr. Éric St-Jacques. NAMAKOR Holdings is a long-term investment firm of which its seasoned managers actively participate in the growth of the companies in its portfolio. Through this high-level involvement, the portfolio companies enjoy all the required support to reach their full potential. As underlined in a recent newspaper article, the NAMAKOR vision bears fruit.

Translated by e2ip. Original French publication here 

THE BIRTH OF A GLOBAL HUB FOR PRINTABLE ELECTRONICS

GGI Solutions was founded in Montreal more than 125 years ago. The company, which specializes in manufacturing control systems, made a significant shift towards innovation and consolidation three years ago. Next week, the industrial group will inaugurate the head office and center of expertise of the new company,e2ip technologies, which aims to establish itself as the global hub in the field of printed electronics and advanced materials. One hundred twenty-five years ago, GGI Solutions (Graham Group International) was a manufacturer of identification methods, such as the metal plates found in refrigerators with the brand name and model serial number. In 1985, the family business began manufacturing membrane switches and control systems. CEO Éric Saint-Jacques explains what the company does and where it is heading.

 

WHAT DOES GGI SOLUTIONS MAKE EXACTLY AND WHICH INDUSTRIES ARE YOU PRESENT IN?

We are present in four major sectors: aerospace, medical, industrial, and transport, where we do business with large multinationals.

In the aerospace industry, we build aircraft seat control units, in-flight entertainment systems and ambient lighting. Our tactile circuits are used to carry the electronic signals that activate and control device functions. Our systems are installed in more than 100,000 aircraft seats of 125 airlines.

In the medical field, we make control panels for hospital beds and electrocardiographs. In the industrial sector we make, human-machine interface solutions on a number of products such as blenders or heat pumps. We are the world’s largest manufacturer of gas pump system interfaces, be it touch screen or payment keyboard. Finally, in the transportation sector, we make the control panels for trains and subways for Bombardier and other major manufacturers.

 

YOU UNDERTOOK AN IMPORTANT SHIFT THREE YEARS AGO THAT REQUIRED YOU TO ADJUST THE BUSINESS. WHERE ARE YOU NOW AND WHAT CHANGES HAVE YOU MADE?

GGI Solutions was bought out three years ago by the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) and a group of Quebec investors who wanted to bring GGI further. The CDPQ is the main shareholder of this partnership, which led us to make three acquisitions in three years. In 2016, we first bought GGI Solutions and its Lachine production center. In 2017, ClickTouch was acquired in Saint-Laurent, and in 2018 HeatSeal Minnesota was purchased; all companies are in the same industry.

We decided to consolidate our operations to create a major player. In three years, we doubled the annual sales turnover to 100 million, of which 70% was organic growth, but our main goal was to create a technology hub in Montreal by focusing on innovation in the printed electronics sector. We are also completing construction on our new facility in Morocco that will be opening this summer. This will provide us with a lower cost production center while we focus on innovation in Montreal.

 

THIS IS THE REASON YOU WILL OPEN A NEW HEAD OFFICE AND A CENTRE OF EXPERTISE NEXT WEEK IN SAINT-LAURENT UNDER  A NEW NAME: E2IP TECHNOLOGIES. WHAT IS THE MANDATE OF THIS NEW STRUCTURE? 

e2ip technologies is creating a technology hub, an ecosystem in the printed electronics field in Montréal. We have partnered with the National Research Council of Canada (NRCC) for fundamental research in this field which has resulted in a portfolio of 17 gl;obal patents in the field of materials and processes in printed electronics. Our technology enables us to embed electronics and control interfaces directly into the surface material of a system, which reduces the number of control components by 80% or more. This reduces cost and the overall footprint of systems. For example, a coffee machine without any visible commands. As your hand approaches your espresso maker, the control interface appears in beautiful backlighting, that you touch directly on the surface of the machine. No buttons, dials or knobs.. As you draw back your hand, the controls disappear, leaving the aesthetically pleasing design unblemished by mechanical parts or graphics. We are doing the same for seat controls invisibly embedded in surfaces in cars, other household appliances,… The National Research Council Canada partners with us on the fundamental research and we do the applied research. We have also partnered with the Advanced materials research and innovation hub (PRIMA Québec) to integrated with universities. We are a leader in a specialized high growth sector and we will shortly announce a global partnership with an electronics industry world leader for global deployment. We hope to shortly open an additional 100,000 square foot facility in Montreal to support this new initiative.

 

WHY HAS THE CAISSE DE DÉPÔT ET PLACEMENT DU QUÉBEC (CDPQ) CHOSEN YOU TO TAKE ON THIS AMBITIOUS PROJECT? HAVE YOU EVER WORKED IN THIS FIELD BEFORE?

I have always worked in the tech industry. I met CDPQ through TouchTunes in Montreal, a company owned by CDPQ, which became the largest Out of Home music and entertainment network in the world. I joined TouchTunes in 2007. As general manager I worked directly for our CEO, Charles Goldstuck. When we joined the company was losing several millions per year. We rapidly turned the situation around. In 2015, Searchlight Capital Partners and the Soros family fund bought TouchTunes for several hundred million dollars. The TouchTunes transaction was a big financial win for CDPQ, who was also a major shareholder of GGI Solutions. When it came time to consider GGI’s growth, CDPQ saw the potential in the growth plan we proposed and chose to support us.