Creaform founder wins award
FIRM MAKES 3-D LASER SCANNERS Top auto companies among its clients
Getting his startup company up and flying in only three years has earned Martin Lamontagne the title of Quebec’s top young entrepreneur for 2006, as selected by the Business Development Bank of Canada.
The 33-year-old co-founder and vice-president of laserscanning firm Creaform Inc. was honoured along with winners from the other provinces at a ceremony in Moncton, N.B., last night.
“Martin stands out as a role model for young Canadian entrepreneurs,” BDC president and chief executive Jean-René Halde said.
“In a short time, Creaform has made impressive inroads in foreign markets and built a solid international reputation,” he added. “It’s a pleasure to recognize Martin’s passion, drive and excellence with this award.”
Lamontagne acknowledged “2005 was a great year for us.”
“We doubled our size and our export volumes plus we launched the Handyscan 3D. We’ve had success with the product already and we haven’t even fully developed our distribution network.”
The Handyscan is the first self-position, handheld 3D laser camera that gives realtime three-dimensional rendering visualization. The file can then be exported in any standard format.
Creaform, which received a startup loan of about $200,000 from the BDC in 2002, sold the 100th unit of its patented handheld 3-D laser scanner last month to a Michiganbased global automotive supplier to be used in its technical centre in France.
Besides Visteon Corp., other auto company clients include Honda Motor Co., Renault and DaimlerChrysler.
Creaform got its start when Lamontagne joined forces with two former colleagues from St. Laurent research- and- development firm Modelex (now Axis Prototypes Inc.). In 2005, exports accounted for 51 per cent of its business.
The partners were finding it difficult to pierce the lucrative U.S. market at the outset, but responded to interest in France by opening a subsidiary – Euroform – in Paris.
Creaform recently added sales directors – one for “the Americas and the rest of the world,” the other for Asia and Europe.
Its efforts south of the border and overseas have started to pay off. The staff has gone from the original three in 2002 to a workforce of 80 and there are plans to add 20 new employees a year if current expansion continues.
Last year’s $5-million earn- ings are on target to double in 2006 with revenues expected to increase by 50 per cent annually in the next few years.
Lamontagne, who has a degree in mechanics from the Université de Sherbrooke and an MBA from Université Laval, said the company, which operates out of the Quebec City suburb of Lévis, stresses customer service.
“Most companies just manufacture laser scanners and deliver them to the customer,” he said. “We tailor our service offerings to the client’s precise industry needs.”
Creaform also provides on-site technicians who work with clients on laserscan inspection or date acquisition.