Amajor milestone in the history of any organization, Groupe Tornatech embarked upon its 35th year in business in 2020. As one of Canada’s foremost specialists in the conception and manufacture of fire pump controllers, the anniversary was not only a time of celebration for Groupe Tornatech, but also an opportunity to reflect on three and half decades of innovative manufacturing.
Founded in 1985 by Bruno Goupil and Armin Kunert, Groupe Tornatech was the first Canadian company to successfully obtain UL listing and FM approval for both electric and diesel engine fire pump controllers. The company also manufactures products that meet various local standards and approvals, such as A2P in France and LPCB in the UK. The company is also adding industrial pump controllers and related speciality products to its offering.
In 2004, Armin Kunert retired and Bruno Goupil became the sole owner of Tornatech. The shift in ownership triggered the addition of offices in Singapore, Dubai, Belgium, and the USA, setting Groupe Tornatech on a path towards becoming a truly global organization.
“Today, one of the biggest things that sets us apart from the competition is our global footprint and our proximity to customers around the world,” explains Co-President and Chief Operating Officer Dominic Bergeron. “That is the key reason why we have established those global subsidiaries. We are the only firm in our industry with sites near each of our customers, so we can talk to them in their language and better understand the challenges they face.”
Alongside the strategic location of each of Groupe Tornatech’s subsidiaries, the company’s sites benefit from some of the industry’s latest technologies. For example, a highly-advanced ERP system is used across all the firm’s manufacturing plants, allowing the business to share knowledge, practices and Lean manufacturing processes, which, in turn, makes for better quality and reliability.
“Our controllers are designed with the use of a template or platform, a bit like a car, and that platform can then be modified for the UK market, the French market, the German market, the Asian market or the American market,” Dominic says. “In collaboration with our ERP and manufacturing processes, this platform helps our subsidiary partners produce our unique solutions consistently.
“To support these efforts, we employ an Operational Excellence team to review our production processes and operational capabilities. We are in pursuit of continuous improvement across the world and every time we change something, we apply it at every plant. We take ideas from across our whole network and I think that’s something that gives us an edge.”
Installed in over 80 countries to date, Groupe Tornatech’s fire pump controllers continue to play a vital role in fire suppression systems around the world. With an eye on future growth, one of the company’s most recent projects involves the use of robotics onsite as a way of increasing productivity and alleviating the labor.
“The main goal of our prospective robotics usage is to eliminate the number of tasks our employees need to perform, focusing their skills instead on higher value responsibilities,” Dominic reports. “Collaborative robots are likely to be launched in our production facility in Canada in 2022 and, if successful, we will extend their usage to other plants as one large project. If all goes to plan, the robotics will be in place by the time we unveil a new platform, more suitable for the European market, next year.”
Over the course of the last decade, Groupe Tornatech has tremendously boosted its turnover – from $10 million in 2011 to over $100 million in 2020 – and the company now boasts more than 350 employees worldwide. Undoubtedly, without these employees, the organization would not have attained such great success throughout its 35-year existence, and as a result, Dominic is quick to dedicate Groupe Tornatech’s landmark anniversary to the company’s talented workforce.
“We have to extend our sincere thanks and congratulations to all Groupe Tornatech employees on this 35-year milestone for the business,” Dominic states. “We are really proud of our great team, which is truly one of the best, and a key reason for our success over the years. We empower them to achieve what they are capable of and do whatever it takes to make our customers happy.
“The big difference between Groupe Tornatech and other businesses is that everyone cares about the company and you can feel it. Looking ahead, we will continue to grow and improve because we have retained our core group of staff. They have been there for us in the past and they will be there for us again in the future too. It’s a fact that fills us with optimism.”
The genuine gratitude Groupe Tornatech feels towards its team is indicative of the high regard in which the company holds its workforce. This, in turn, can be felt in Groupe Tornatech’s commitment to respecting widely recognized professional ethics and human resources principles, and more recently, the organization’s place among Canada’s Best Managed Companies.
Launched in 1993 by Deloitte, the Canada’s Best Managed Companies program is a widely-recognized mark of excellence for Canadian-owned and managed companies with revenues over $25 million. Hundreds of entrepreneurial companies vie for the designation each year in a rigorous and independent process that evaluates their management skills and practices, and in May 2021, Groupe Tornatech found itself named among this year’s 37 winners of the award.
Building on this achievement, Groupe Tornatech now hopes to continue its growth and development. According to Dominic, the fact that the company does not rely solely upon one market will be a key benefit for the organization in the future.
“We are so spread out around the globe that when one market is down, another one is going up, so we always have a regular, steady flow of work on the go,” he reports. “Despite the fact that the world is still recovering from the Covid-19 crisis, I think we will have some good numbers over the next few years.
“Construction is back and so is our growth,” Dominic continues. “In places like the Middle East, which is a huge market for us, everything has got the green light. Even in places that are currently slow, such as the Asian-Pacific area and South American markets, there are signs that activity is going to soar in the near future as more areas undergo long-delayed construction to help maintain market share and kickstart the economy.”
Confident of ongoing success in international markets, Groupe Tornatech now hopes to diversify its offering and, to this end, has recently formed a Strategic Development team to help the company identify new products and potential customers. At the center of Groupe Tornatech’s efforts going forward will be the firm’s mission to retain its industry niche, while exploring the ways in which it can serve new markets.
“There are a lot of possibilities and opportunities that are going to come from the international market,” Dominic asserts, “so we want to continue with our strategic plan for the road ahead, which primarily involves gaining a larger share of our niche market and a larger share of new markets in places like Asia or Europe.
“As a group, I think we can probably achieve important growth in the next few years, which would be great. Our goal is to supply superior quality, innovative and reliable products that are supported by the best customer experience in the global control systems industry. When we speak again in a few years, I think we will have made really great steps towards that objective.”
Products: Fire pump controllers