Mainly present in Canada and the United States since its creation in 1996, GMR Safety, which produces solutions for securing warehouse loading docks, has decided to tackle the European market in 2014. A breakthrough that, combined with several other factors, explains the company’s prodigious growth, now an industry leader here and elsewhere.
Founding president Gaétan Jetté spared no effort to set up shop on the other side of the Atlantic, spending four to five months a year in Europe for a few years trying to convince potential customers that they needed GMR Safety products. “I went with my pilgrim’s staff. I had nothing and I didn’t know anyone,” he recalls.
PARTNERS OF CHOICE
While Pascal Jetté, the founder’s brother, and his team were adding up the important sales in the United States, the Terrebonne-based company surrounded itself with partners whose contribution was crucial in the conquest of Europe. Samuel Jetté, the president’s son, recalls his chance meeting with a representative from Salveo. The work of this group, which assists companies in their international development, helped put Gaétan Jetté in touch with companies likely to be interested in GMR Safety’s products.
Winner of an innovation competition in 2015, GMR Safety won the opportunity to test its PowerChock wheel restraint systems under real operating conditions. The conclusion was unequivocal: “Today, 15 of the 21 companies that voted for us are our customers,” said Gaétan Jetté.
INNOVATE AND GROW
During his many trips, the president observed opportunities and came back with ideas in his head. All that remained was to materialize them, which the company was able to accomplish thanks to the expertise of its team. “Over the past six years, we have added six new solutions to adapt to the European market,” says the company’s CEO, who has seen its sales increase by an average of more than 30% each year for the past four years and whose products are now present in more than 25 countries. GMR Safety has even opened offices in France and Germany in the past year.
To support this expo-nential growth, which was barely slowed down by the COVID-19 pandemic, the company has to produce more. That is why it has just invested $7 million to add 35,000 square feet to its head office on Boulevard des Entreprises. The new facility is expected to be operational by the end of the year, just in time for a strong start in 2021.
None of this would have been possible without the contribution of some 80 dedicated employees. The expansion was designed in large part to meet their needs and well-being. “We want to make the work environment pleasant, provide new tools for employees and common areas to promote teamwork. We want to be able to walk around the plant and hear music,” explains Gaétan Jetté, for whom the human factor is paramount. We want them to be proud of what they do. The relationship with them goes both ways. We listen to them, but in return, they give us a lot. »
In the coming years, the company intends to increase its production and workforce in Terrebonne, while producing specific parts in Europe. With several projects on the verge of becoming a reality, but which cannot be unveiled at this time, you won’t have heard the last of GMR Safety.
Journalist: Jean-Marc Gilbert
Photographer: Sébastien Arbour
Le Reflet Economique de la MRC Les Moulins is produced by La Revue in collaboration with the Service de développement économique et touristique de la MRC Les Moulins. It recounts the successes, but also the challenges faced by entrepreneurs in the Lanaudière region of Quebec, particularly in the industrial sector.