Nobody can predict our future relationship with China. But long before the current schmozzle, some Canadian businesses had already started putting Canada first and weaned themselves from dependence on China.
One of those businesses is the Winnipeg-based technology company 151 Research, the firm that invented and developed GrainViz.
Braden Pierce is an engineer and one of the founders of 151 Research. He explains that when technology start-up companies are born, they don’t have the volume to place orders with Canadian sources.
Chinese companies easily fill the needs for these specialized electronic components. He says 151 Research had to go through the same Pacific rim experience as all startup companies.
“We’ve been building prototypes up until now. With low volume, we couldn’t find the electronics we needed here in North America,” says Pierce, explaining that China could supply everything they needed quickly.
“Now, with this GSI deal, we’ll be producing in a large volume, so we will definitely source everything from North America and preferably from here in Canada. Our long-term goal has always been to consolidate all of our research and manufacturing here in Winnipeg.
“Now that we have the volume, local industries can gear up to supply the components we need. We’re buying from local partners, right here in Winnipeg. Price Industries here in Winnipeg is run by Gerry Price. He’s been very supportive of our initiative, and they’ll be supplying many of our sensors and digital circuit boards.”
Five years ago, the company consisted of three guys working in their garage. Today they have 20 employees. Once they go into the first stages of manufacturing, Pierce wasn’t sure how many people they might employ.
His business partner Boyd Koldingnes speculated they might easily be in the range of 200 employees.
Pierce adds, “GSI is very much on-side with the idea of keeping the manufacturing jobs here in North America, specifically in Winnipeg. We’re happy with that.”