The first location was in founder and now board chairman Peter Dawson’s basement.
“That was the most economical,” said Iridian president George Laframboise.“It was dirt cheap and the landlord was great.”
The new facility, located on Swansea Crescent and built specifically for Iridian, will consolidate the company’s operations and manufacturing into one location to increase efficiency.
Formerly, the firm resided in two offices: one at the National Research Council’s Partnership Facility and one in the Canotek industrial park in the city’s east end.
Iridian was founded in 1998 as a telecom and fibre-optic company by former NRC employees Mr. Dawson and Brian Sullivan, who now serves as chief technology officer.
In 2000, the company was acquired by JDS Uniphase, an international optics firm with a presence in Ottawa that had previously invested in Iridian. But it was hard to get used to going from 40 employees to being a part of a 19,000 employee company, and almost immediately after the transaction, “the telecom world basically imploded,” Mr. Laframboise said.
The company struggled to remain on its feet, and in 2002, Iridian re-acquired the company back from JDSU.
For the next decade, the company focused on diversifying its offerings and entered various markets including spectroscopics, biometrics and three-dimensional optics.
A huge break came when technology giant Dolby Laboratories contracted Iridian to deliver tens of thousands of 3D glasses in advance of the release of the 3D film Avatar. Although the company didn’t have the manufacturing capability to produce all the glasses in Canada, it capitalized on a relationship with a distributor in Japan to prepare the remainder of the order.
“If you want to know about just-in-time delivery, that’s it,” Mr. Laframboise joked.
By 2009, the company had grown to 100 employees and was quickly outgrowing its two facilities in Ottawa. Iridian decided it was time to bring everyone back together under one roof.
Now, its 120 employees will all work from the new research and development facility in the city’s south-east end.
The new facility was built by MP Lundy Construction Ltd. with the help of various property managers, architects and electricians. Municipal construction permit data from December 2011 estimated the project’s value at approximately $6.6 million.
Iridian was one of OBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies in 2011, with revenue growth of 192 per cent. The company makes thin-film optical filters, comprised of gossamer layers of material assembled to manipulate the entry, transmission or reflection of light.