Energy management solutions
Primary market: North America, Europe, Asia
Number of employees: 186
Contact: Lauren Scott, marketing specialist
Controlling green buildings
Canadians, who are among the world’s largest per-capita greenhouse emitters, love to talk about the environment. They almost all solemnly drop paper cups into recycle baskets when others are looking. However few are ready to take concrete actions to reduce their ecological footprints. Étienne Veilleux, president of Distech Controls, has found a great way to encourage them: by making it profitable.
Veilleux founded Distech, which provides energy management solutions, in 1995, following a stint in Hydro-Quebec’s energy efficiency department. Today Distech markets heating, ventilation and air conditioning controllers, wireless sensors, switches and space optimization solutions. Major clients include commercial, educational, healthcare and commercial building operators, who Veilleux says can save as much as 30 percent on their energy costs, by using Distech technology.
Initial capital provided Caisse de Dépôt et Placement du Québec provided Distech with good momentum into a market dominated by major international players such as Honeywell, Siemens and Johnson Controls. Veilleux attributes the company’s success to tight management, which includes a detailed five-year plan with annual objectives, and to its ability to mobilize employees to achieve those targets.
Distech has invested considerable resources to keep its people happy. Its headquarters include an outdoor bistro area and onsite gym with showers. Lounges are supplied with daily fresh fruit baskets and coffee for all employees. Rapid expansion to overseas markets such as Europe and Asia also helped to boost sales, as did the Distech’s policy of devoting 30 percent of staff hours to research and development efforts.
That said, falling oil prices could make Veilleux’s job tougher in coming years. With less financial incentive to adopt energy saving solutions, he’ll have to rely more on Canadians’ commitment to the environment, as opposed to their self interest, to justify new sales. Time will tell how well that works.
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