Growth of 2,000% in three years and sales that continue to double: this is what convinced Investissement Québec and Desjardins Capital to invest $ 10.8 million in Laserax last August.
This nugget of Quebec, founded in 2010 by Xavier Godmaire, 33 years old, and Alex Fraser, 35, who have respectively a master’s degree and a doctorate in physics, aims to become a leader in the manufacture of machines and laser systems industrial.
Its flagship application? The marking of industrial parts for traceability purposes. “With the proliferation of car recalls, manufacturers, a bit like food or pharmaceuticals, want to better trace the origin of parts of their suppliers to circumscribe those that prove to be defective and understand why,” illustrates Xavier Godmaire .
Permanent and indelible, the laser replaces traditional technologies such as labeling, inkjet or punching. “More reliable, it’s also more cost-effective,” says Fraser. The laser is light, so electricity, no need for consumables or frequent maintenance. “In a year or two, customers make profitable their acquisition,” he concludes.
A strategic progression on the value chain
The two entrepreneurs started by working with the Quebec aluminum smelters nearby … before gradually going down the pyramid. “Our first customers have redirected us to the automotive sector, the large, but difficult to access, market that saw ingots marked with our laser coming into its production lines,” explains Mr. Godmaire.
The 35-employee company, which generates 70% of its sales abroad, in 14 countries, is beginning to diversify into laser cleaning. A dazzling expansion that would almost forget his laborious beginnings.
The story of Laserax begins at Laval University. Mr. Godmaire, who left Shawinigan to go to Quebec to become the mother of his two children, is studying there. In third year, he did an internship in an optics lab that gives him the prick for laser technology. He is the trainee of a certain … Alex, who was finishing his master’s project.
At the end of their studies, the two quickly become friends. They join a young start-up who will quickly experience financial difficulties. To get out of this situation, they decide to start their own business. “We were not programmed to be entrepreneurs, but this event pushed us to stand on our own,” Fraser recalls.
Respond to specific market needs
The idea of their business comes to them from chance. On vacation at his home in Île Verte, Mr. Fraser meets a tourist with whom he sympathizes. During the conversation, the latter, an employee of a large producer of diapers, explains his production problems. For Alex Fraser, it becomes clear that the laser is the solution to solve them.
Laserax (for Alex Alex Laser) was created in 2010 with the first application of industrial diaper cutting for babies or incontinence.
With the help of the Center for Optics, Photonics and Laser at Laval University, the two colleagues are developing a technology that is a resounding technical success … but a monumental commercial failure. “We had underestimated the fact that we were a very small company that wanted to provide a solution to a group of 23,000 employees,” says Fraser.
“You had two lab rats that knew a lot about laser, but little about business management,” Mr. Godmaire smiles. Fortunately, we were able to surround ourselves with people who had knowledge we did not have and learn from our mistakes to always lift us up. ”
During the next two years, Laserax multiplies the applications (welding, cutting, marking) in different sectors to survive. Until 2015 when, after being contacted by two aluminum smelters, the company decided to focus only on industrial marking. With the success that we know today.
Laserax has been a member of REAI since 2013.
Source : www.lesaffaires.ca
Crédit photo : LeSoleil