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Great interview – Xavier Godmaire, Laserax CEO | Battery powered for electric vehicles

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Specializing in laser marking, cleaning and welding, Laserax is the latest emerging company in the Quebec optics and photonics cluster.

Born in 2010 from a research project of the Center for Optics, Photonics and Lasers of Laval University, the company now offers its high-tech solutions to automotive giants and has become a key player with manufacturers of electric vehicle batteries.

Quebec City is recognized worldwide for its expertise in optics and photonics, which over the past decades has enabled the creation and development of innovative companies such as Exfo, Optel, TeraXion, Coractive, Creaform, Eddify or Leddar Tech.

Laserax is now part of the lot of these Quebec technology companies that shine internationally and its CEO and co-founder, Xavier Godmaire, confirms that the group is currently surfing on a wave of growth that is interesting to say the least.


PHOTO EDOUARD PLANTE-FRÉCHETTE, THE PRESS

Laserax is a Quebec company that manufactures industrial lasers

“We have increased our order book by 80% over the past year and increased our sales by 60%. It is now expected to achieve sales of 100 million within four years. »

We began our commercial launch in 2016 by partnering with aluminum smelters to laser mark their ingots. We made $1 million in revenue that year.

Xavier Godmaire

It was in 2010 that the young engineer, holder of a master’s degree in engineering physics, joined forces with his colleague Alex Fraser, then a doctoral student in engineering physics, in a research project at Laval University.

The Swedish multinational CSA Personal Care wanted to cut incontinence diapers with lasers to vary its cutting patterns rather than with knives that were much less flexible and which regularly damaged.

“We worked on this project for four years with the CSA plant in Drummondville. We were well supported by the team, and that taught us to discover industrial reality. Unfortunately, in 2014, the multinational decided not to implement our technology. »

We landed small laser cutting contracts before partnering with aluminum smelters in Quebec. They have all adopted our ingot marking technology.

Xavier Godmaire

“We then turned to their main client, the automobile manufacturers. Rio Tinto opened the doors to us, and we started marking parts for a company in the sector,” explains Xavier Godmaire. »

Laserax then undertakes marking for the tracing of metal parts such as engine blocks, brakes and wheels, and the car market quickly manages to represent 80% of its turnover.

With supply issues arising with the COVID-19 pandemic and global production slowdown, the company is further expanding its offering by performing laser cleaning of parts before they are welded.

The battery market

Since 2021, Laserax has also undertaken to tackle a new market, that of the manufacture of batteries for electric vehicles.

“Batteries have become our third wave of growth. We mark, clean and solder battery components for electric vehicles. We have all the players in the sector in California, we are also well established in Germany with the major manufacturers,” emphasizes Xavier Godmaire.

Among the major customers that the CEO can name are Lucid, North Volt, Ford. Even Quebec companies Lion and BRP have introduced Laserax solutions into their industrial processes.

“We have the same technological platform for our different solutions, but we customize them according to the needs and specifications of our customers,” says Xavier Godmaire.

The electric battery sector should generate 60 to 70% of the company’s business volume this year, and this percentage should remain high over the next 10 years, anticipates the CEO.

“We are part of the Quebec government’s electric battery sector. We are a player who is part of the solution for manufacturers who want to set up in Quebec,” says Xavier Godmaire.

At the same time, the Quebec company is also developing products for the clean energy sector, in particular hydrogen cells and solar energy sensors. Hydro-Québec is also one of the group’s 50 customers.

The company, which today employs around a hundred specialists, deploys its laser systems in around thirty countries and has around fifty partners throughout the world.


PHOTO EDOUARD PLANTE-FRÉCHETTE, THE PRESS

Xavier Godmaire, CEO of Laserax, a Quebec company that manufactures industrial lasers

“I’m not bad on the road, explains the 37-year-old CEO. I was in Japan before the Holidays and now I’m off to Germany and the United States. »

To finance its development, Laserax joined forces with Desjardins Capital, today the main shareholder, Investissement Québec, Fonds Innovexport and a strategic partner, the Japanese group Sinto.

The two co-founders Xavier Godmaire and Alex Fraser are still shareholders of Laserax, Alex Fraser being for his part the vice-president, technology, of the company.

Laserax is investing heavily in the marketing of its processes and is beginning to break into the Asian market in Japan and Korea. Managing growth remains a daily challenge.

“We started in a 2000 square foot room. Starting in March, we are moving into a third site which will bring our area to 45,000 square feet. Ideally, we want to have a new head office in a single site within two to three years,” predicts the CEO.

Originally from Shawinigan, Xavier Godmaire wants to make Laserax a new flagship of the Quebec economy.

My father was a papermaker, my grandfather was also a papermaker, and there are no more pulp companies in Shawinigan. We have to create businesses in Quebec.

Xavier Godmaire

“My greatest pride is when I meet a German industrialist who asks me what a Canadian company does that he cannot do, and he becomes my client…”



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