For more than 60 years now, the Paco Group has been innovating in the field of electromechanical equipment and today achieves more than 95% of its turnover on the international scene in three very different business sectors, from a one and the same patented lifting system, the Spiralift. Its CEO, Philippe Laforest, tells us how the cylinder developed by the Paco Group conquered the world.
Posted at 7:00 a.m.
The Paco Group was born in 1960, in downtown Montreal, where the acronym of the company, now established in Saint-Hubert since 1992, is still clearly visible on Wellington Street for all motorists entering town.
“My father, an engineer, and a colleague from Polytechnique joined forces with an administrator to found the Paco Group with the aim of developing electromechanical equipment and industrial solutions for different sectors of activity.
“They quickly designed a concrete block palletizer that was very successful in the 1970s throughout the North American market. At the time, we made 90% of our turnover in the United States and 10% in Canada,” says the trained economist who joined the family business as CEO in 1989.
At the end of the 1970s, the Théâtre Denise-Pelletier called on Groupe Paco to design a motorized carrier system, and the company quickly realized that this was a promising market.
The Paco Group was an integrated workshop, and the idea was to develop several products at the same time. We threw ourselves into this and quickly realized that there was an interest in systems capable of lifting large load capacities while remaining very compact. This is where we designed the electromechanical jack that we called Spiralift.
The Spiralift allowed the Paco Group to achieve during the 1980s and 1990s an international breakthrough in the field of stage machinery where its systems were installed in the largest performance halls in the world by its Gala Systems division, from Las Vegas to New York or Tokyo.
“We continued the development and we started to design and install transformable rooms, whether they are convention halls, concert halls or multifunctional centers. Since the 2000s, it has become the sector with the strongest growth and which today generates 70% of our income”, specifies the CEO of the Paco Group.
From the car to the retractable swimming pool
The Paco Group offers its transformable room solutions in more than 60 countries. The company has made inroads in Australia, India and even Africa where it has built a major cultural complex in Namibia.
All countries seek to equip themselves with large-scale cultural or tourism infrastructures, and Gala Systèmes enables them to carry out their transformable hall projects.
At the same time, the Paco Group is always looking to offer new solutions to companies in different industrial sectors.
“In the 1990s, we saw good potential for our Spiralift lifting system for car manufacturers to lift their ergonomic tables on their assembly line. They couldn’t use the hydraulic jacks because they posed a risk of contamination.
“We worked with Renault who finally approved our Spiralift cylinder system and we modified seven of their factories around the world. Then it was Hyundai, Kia, GM and some Chrysler factories. In total, our Paco Spiralift division had to install more than 20,000 actuators for automotive manufacturers around the world,” assesses Philippe Laforest.
The fast-track shift to all-electric cars opens up great potential for the Paco Group, as all the major manufacturers must transform their assembly lines to adjust them to their new production.
“It’s a very buoyant market for us, and the volume of units produced will be significant, but in terms of added value, it will remain less important than the stage machinery sector and transformable rooms where we are also managers. of the project whereas it is we who do all the installation and the transformation of the rooms, not only the manufacture and the break of the cylinders”, underlines the CEO.
Finally, less than ten years ago, the Paco Group created a new division, Akvo Spiralift, which specializes in movable floors for swimming pools.
“We started this activity at Laval University, where we installed our first mobile bottom, which allows us to adjust the depth of public swimming pools according to the clientele.
“Now, we install our systems in hotels and private homes where we can transform a swimming pool into a large terrace, depending on the event. We are here in the management of space”, observes Philippe Laforest.
The Gala Systems division generates 70% of the group’s revenues, Paco Spiralift, 20% and Akvo Spiralift, 10%. The company is always trying to find new innovative industrial solutions and has a team of around thirty people who do just that.
The Paco Group employs some 130 people at its Saint-Hubert facilities and relies on mobile teams that set up locations all over the world. The company generates 50% of its turnover in the United States, 45% in Asia and Europe, and 5% in Canada.
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Great interview Philippe Laforest, CEO of the Paco Group | A cylinder that stands out on the international scene
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