London companies are reaching the world. here are a few born in the forest City that are prospering globally.
When wastewater treatment specialists Trojan Technologies got its start in London in 1977, the City stepped up as the company’s first customer.That was a game-changer.
“Municipalities tend to be really conservative.They don’t want to try new things or be the first or the second or even the 10th,” said company president Marv DeVries. “That first customer is the hardest to get.”
Since then, the City of London has bought each generation of Trojan technology and showcased it to international customers.
“That has accelerated the rate of deployment of each generation, sometimes by years actually.”
The company’s systems are now used by more than 10,000 municipalities in more than 100 countries. Trojan is the No. 1 disinfection brand in China, after capturing about 20 per cent of the market. In the United States,Trojan’s technology treats about one-third of all wastewater produced in the entire country.
That crucial strategic partnership between Trojan and London has evolved into a sophisticated full-scale lab where new technology can be tested.“It’s a one-of-a-kind facility. I’ve seen nothing else like it in the world.”
Trojan, which encompasses six businesses and ongoing research and development initiatives, employs about 400 in London. The city is a great place to attract talent and to find expertise in local electronics and components suppliers, says DeVries.
Eighty-five per cent of the high- performance composite rowing boats manufactured in HUDSON’s London facility leave Canada and 40 per cent are exported outside North America.
While the company’s market is global, its home has always been London.
“London has been a stable and supportive home for our company,” said commercial manager Craig McAllister.“We’ve been able to utilize local expertise to support our success as a high-tech company in a global economy.”
HUDSON was founded in 1981 in a garage and has grown to 80 employees. It has focused over the last decade on developing its own technology.
The company handcrafts more than 500 boats a year, carrying athletes to 85 Olympic and world championship medals and many more earned by international clubs, and university and high school teams.
McAllister says skilled craftspeople have been easy to find in London and HUDSON sources many of its engineers and technicians from Western University and Fanshawe College. Salespeople often come from Western’s renowned rowing program.
London is home base to the training centre for Canada’s national rowing team and will become a future development hub.“So as a boat manufacturer, London is a great base for us because rowing is important here.”
The ability to land talent is critical for Autodata Solutions, a London technology company that will need to hire between 50 and 100 people this year.
“The key thing for us is that London really strikes a good balance between being liveable and being interesting,” said Chris Wedermann, co-founder and chief information officer. “London is that great size, there is lots to do and it’s easy to Toronto or the U.S., but it’s still a liveable place for young families. That’s definitely been good for us.”
Western and Fanshawe are critical pipelines of talent in developers, engineers and digital content creation. Autodata sometimes hire entire classes.
Autodata builds the technical architecture that powers digital solutions for e-commerce, business operations and merchandising for automakers, including Chrysler, Ford, GM, Nissan, Toyota, Mazda, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Volvo, and Jaguar.
Autodata also works with dealerships to merchandise their inventory by building content, data, video and animations.
“Dealers have an average of 250 vehicles on their lot at any one time and each one is different. So merchandising is a big challenge,” said Wedermann.
Autodata recently moved into a 55,000-square-foot space in downtown London that houses almost 400 of Autodata’s 600-plus employees.There are also locations in Calgary, Troy, Mich., Minneapolis, Minn., Portland, Ore., and partnerships in Philippines and India.
Read the full Perspective London 2018 Globe & Mail feature here.