Etratech Inc. (Etratech), a Burlington-based manufacturer, specializes in designing, developing, and manufacturing advanced electronic controls for original equipment manufacturers.
Guided by its mission of continuous innovation and building “better client relationships by design,” Etratech was able to develop the industry’s first proprietary air-balancing technology for heat recovery ventilation, and create the first wireless freight elevator door control system in the world.
Etratech was founded in 1989 by Michael Desnoyers, the company’s current president and chief executive officer, and his previous partner. Both founders had full-time jobs at TRW Automotive’s Canadian division in the 1980s. However, when TRW Automotive was forced to close several plants in the Hamilton area, Desnoyers and his partner decided to form their own company. Accordingly, in November 1989, they established Etratech in a 1,250 square foot industrial condominium in Burlington, Ontario. Initial growth was rapid, and in 1993, the two founders purchased a property on Cooke Boulevard (across the street from the current facility), where they constructed Etratech’s first manufacturing facility. In the next year, a second building was added to fulfill the growing market demand. In 1997, the entire group was moved to a 46,000 square foot facility at 1047 Cooke Boulevard in Burlington. With this move, all design, product development, and engineering activities could be completed under one roof, thereby improving Etratech’s efficiency and customer service.
With more than 25 years’ experience in electronics technology, design, and manufacturing, Etratech has become an industry leader in advanced electronic control systems. However, in the early 2000s, Desnoyers foresaw increasing competitive pressure from Asian manufacturers. To address this challenge, the privately held company actively looked for equity partners in Asia to expand its manufacturing footprint and fulfill the needs of the firm’s changing market. In 2005, Etratech started the acquisition process of a foreign-owned company in Shenzhen, China, and by the end of that year, the Chinese firm became a wholly owned subsidiary of Etratech. Therefore, in addition to its Burlington facility, Etratech also has a 48,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Shenzhen, China. Products manufactured in both facilities meet the international standards of quality and environmental stewardship.
Operating in two locations allows Etratech the flexibility to adapt to changing market conditions and customer specifications. “Our Total Acquisition Management™ program, a global supply chain management program, guides us to most efficiently manage commodity acquisition, lead times, pricing, and local or off-shore production logistics,” explains Desnoyers. “Once sourcing and production of electronic controls is complete, Etratech will work closely with customers to determine the most practical methods of inventory warehousing and delivery.”
Initially, Etratech was only involved in the recreational vehicle industry in the U.S. market, as Desnoyers recalls: “We were building controls for the air conditioners and refrigerators systems for the recreational vehicles.” Today, Etratech’s line of business has expanded to include not only the automotive industry, but also appliances, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system controls, marine electronic controls, and the medical, health, and fitness industries (medical device manufacturing and design).
Etratech’s products have been shipped to the United Kingdom, Mexico, the United States, Sweden, Germany, Luxembourg, Israel, and many other countries. About 75 to 80 per cent of products manufactured in the Burlington facility are exported, with the United States representing Etratech’s largest customer base. The company reported $60 million in sales in 2015 (sales were split between the Shenzhen and Burlington facilities), and is aiming to achieve sales of $100 million over the next five years.
One of the key drivers of Etratech’s success is its highly talented workforce. The company employs more than 400 staff members worldwide (270 in Shenzhen, 140 in Burlington, and 14 in Hong Kong). The Burlington facility employs 21 engineers, who work on research and product development; the rest of the employees at this location are divided between the production floor, and the office and supporting division.
“OUR PROVINCE HAS A LARGE AND HIGHLY QUALIFIED TALENT POOL,” DESNOYER EMPHASIZES.
Etratech hires engineering students from Mohawk College, McMaster University, Ryerson University, and Fanshawe College. In addition, the company maintains a close relationship with Mohawk College and hires co-op students from the school on a regular basis.
In the past two years, Etratech has started inviting high school students to join the company in co-op positions, aiming to provide these students with exposure to next-generation manufacturing techniques and environments. “We encourage high school students to explore their interests and skill sets by exposing every aspect of our operation,” says Desnoyers. The students work with Etratech’s material employees, engineering group, test division, production floor, and continuous improvement centre to gain a better understanding of their interests and the company. Additionally, Etratech invests heavily in its in-house production training program, as Desnoyers describes: “We provide production-related, classroom-based training opportunities to each individual, and help our staff to achieve different levels of specified training requirements.”
Etratech is a long-standing member of Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME), and has maintained very positive relationships with all levels of government. In 2013, the company received a non-repayable contribution of $75,000 from the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters’ SMART Program (supported by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario)) to purchase new equipment.
Etratech continues to search for new technology and equipment to further improve its manufacturing processes. Recently, the company invested $2 million in purchasing new equipment to support production contracts it had acquired with an automotive customer, which provides parts to General Motors. FedDev Ontario announced an investment of up to $500,000 in Etratech to boost the company’s productivity. On an annual basis, Etratech also makes use of the Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) Tax Incentive Program for continuous innovation.
With its heavy investment in research and development, strong commitment to quality, strategic partnerships, and support from the government, Etratech is maintaining its competitive edge in the industry. Desnoyers is very optimistic about the years ahead, and about the future of Canadian manufacturing.
Discover more about Etratech Inc. by visiting their website.
Published on November 17, 2016
Etratech Inc. (Etratech) designs, develops, and produces various electronic controls for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). The company offers motor controls, remotes, refrigerator display units, and control panels for the refrigerator, health, lawn and garden, and HVAC appliance makers; and electronic controls for the automotive, HVAC, and RV and marine industries. It also provides electronic products for health products. The company provides various onshore and offshore manufacturing services, and electronic design services. Etratech also has a 48,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Shenzhen, China.
Headquarters: 1047 Cooke Blvd, Burlington, ON L7T 4A8
Total plant size: 46,000 sq,ft in Burlington, ON; 48,000 sq.ft in Shenzhen, China
- Michael Desnoyers – President & CEO
- Mike Lamontagne – Executive VP and CFO
Year established: 1989
Number of employees: 140 in Burlington, 270 in China, and 14 in Hong Kong
Revenues: 60 million CAD
Line of business
334410 – Semiconductor and Other Electronic Component Manufacturing
334512 – Measuring, Medical and Controlling Devices Manufacturing
Etratech designs and manufactures control systems; typical products include: Remote Control Units, Hand-Held Battery-Operated Devices, 4- and 8-bit Micro-controller Based Devices, Irrigation Controllers, Electronic Flow Meters/Monitors, Temperature/Air Conditioning Control Devices, Electronic Lock Systems, Security Devices, and Remote Data Acquisition Systems.
Etratech’s experience in electronics design, engineering and manufacturing spans a broad range of industries including:
- Automotive Industry,
- Appliance Industry Control Solutions,
- HVAC System Controls,
- RV and Marine Electronic Controls,
- Medical, Health and Fitness; and,
- Other industries.
Export experience: worldwide; customers include companies in U.S., Germany, Sweden, and Israel.
Skills and Educational needs
Employees: Hires engineers from Mohawk College, Ryerson University, McMaster University and University of Waterloo.
Skills: Etratech provides in-house training
Etratech was established in 1989 by Michael Desnoyers. The company is based in Burlington, Ontario Canada with a manufacturing facility in Shenzhen, China. In 2005, Etratech Asia-Pacific Limited was acquired by Etratech as part of its long-term commitment to offer world-leading purchasing and manufacturing solutions. The Chinese facility makes electronic controls competitive at virtually any volume and with any sourcing strategy.
- Government Relationship:
- SR&ED program
- FedDev Ontario
Education Institution Partnerships:
- Mohawk College
- Committed to quality products and customer service
- Have extensive engineering resources
- Commitment to modernize equipment and invest in new technology
- All customers can enjoy the benefits of Etratech’s global supply chain management program- Total Acquisition Management™ (T.A.M.).
- Growth potential
- Potential growth in the Asia market
- Among Canada’s Top 100 Small and Medium Employers for 2015.
- Nominated as a candidate for BSI Canada’s Award of Excellence in 2015.