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Bestech diversifies its customer base

June 1, 2009
by Adelle Larmour
In: News with 0 Comments

Bestech, a Sudbury-based systems integration, engineering and industrial automation company, is responding to the current economic downturn by diversifying its client base and establishing a branch office in Timmins.

“We’ve been working in Timmins for a number of years,” said Andre Dumais, Bestech’s manager of corporate services. However, one of the comments received from a new client was that they preferred to work with local people, “so we took it to heart.”

Originally an electrical engineering and automation firm, Bestech has expanded its scope to include civil and mechanical engineering. By 2005, the company’s portfolio of services grew to include systems integration, software development and environmental monitoring.

With this wide array of services, a decision was made in early January to establish a local presence in Timmins. By February 17, the company had secured an 800-square foot office space in the downtown core. Currently, two permanent staff work in Timmins, although there are often four people present at any given time.

Although the company had to lay off nine employees last fall, it still stands strong with a workforce of 62. Two engineers were transferred to Timmins, which reduced travel expenses.

“We’re on an equal footing with competition in Timmins and now we can let our name and brand stand for itself,” said Dumais.

The Timmins office is focussed primarily on the mining sector. However, the branch also offers a full spectrum of services.

“Timmins is a great market,” Dumais said. “We’ve been aggressive about approaching municipalities. Our services lend themselves very well to water treatment, displacement and effluent.”

During the past four years, Bestech experienced 30 per cent growth annually by diversifying to include software development, environmental monitoring and consulting services. On the information technology side of the business, many of its clients are from sectors other than resource-based industries, creating a more diverse market and less reliance on mining.

“We’re getting involved with school boards, municipalities, and the provincial and federal government,” Dumais said, explaining there is a lot of opportunity when dealing with information systems. Running at 100 per cent capacity, the company is currently hiring computer programmers.

Bestech is also expanding into power engineering and electrical construction. The intent is to consolidate services for the client.

The company has always designed electrical panels, but is now converting part of its Sudbury office space into a shop to construct them as well.

“We can improve quality control because the engineer who designs the panel and constructor who builds it work under the same roof,” said Dumais. “If any questions come up, we can go straight to the engineer or constructor.”

The addition of a veteran electrical engineer last August with expertise in high voltage power engineering has opened doors for larger projects like electrical substations and power lines.

Bestech also provides consulting services to help companies comply with the new electrical safety standard – CSA-Z462 – to be deployed nationally in 2011.

“Our ultimate strategy is to be in the best competitive position when things turn around,” Dumais said. “We want to be there ready to take on that work when the markets improve and capital projects come on line.”

While the company has installations of its software in other countries and distributors throughout South America, it sees opportunities for continued expansion into international markets.

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