‘Like starting a new company’: Antenna developer Galtronics expands to Ottawa

Current headcount of 15 is expected to quickly double
Antenna
Stock image, for illustrative purposes only.

Galtronics may be nearing 40 years in the antenna business, but the firm’s recent expansion to Ottawa has its team feeling young again.

“It’s like starting a new company,” says Minya Gavrilovic, Galtronics Canada’s executive vice-president of innovation and product strategy.

Galtronics develops radio antennas that are used by the industry’s largest wireless carriers. At the end of the month, the firm completes its Canadian expansion with a new 12,000 square foot R&D lab and office space in Kanata South.

Gavrilovic, who only joined Galtronics himself earlier this year, says the company’s decision to open a Canadian outpost – and specifically one in Ottawa – made sense for several reasons.

The company had announced more than a year ago that it would be expanding its R&D into base station antennas, in addition to the small cell and DAS versions it currently develops.

Canada made sense for a new outpost, as parent company Baylin Technologies (TSX:BYL) is traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange following its 2013 IPO. Gavrilovic adds that the country’s tax incentives sweetened the deal.

It was Ottawa’s access to talent that won the minds of Galtronics’ executives. Not only does the capital have its own high-level telecom talent, Gavrilovic says, but its convenient location between Montreal and Toronto makes it easier for the firm to attract workers from both cities to come here.

“We’re kind of in the centre where we have lots of local talent and we have access to talent adjacent to us that we can pull from,” he says.

The 40-year-old startup

Gavrilovic, who’s leading the Ottawa expansion, says he feels like he’s building a startup, albeit one with four decades of experience and notoriety behind it.

The current headcount of 15 is expected to double in short order, but Gavrilovic says he’s been methodical about which new employees he brings on. The success of the startup hinges on every hire, he says.

“We’ve really focused on hiring A-players."

“We’ve really focused on hiring A-players, and developing A-players. That’s easy to say. Not easy to do.”

In true startup fashion, the early Galtronics Canada team has been working out of numerous temporary office spaces as they await completed renovations to the permanent space.

While Galtronics Canada was initially pegged as the starting point for developing new base station antennas, its mandate grew midway through this year’s expansion plans. It’ll now be a “fully capable” R&D outpost, Gavrilovic says, working on the gamut of the firm’s technology. Employees from Galtronics’ Israel offices have even been relocated to the city in an effort to centralize development in Ottawa.

The new team won’t just be working on simulations, Gavrilovic adds. The high ceilings in the Ottawa lab allow for full-scale testing of the firm’s antennas, and employees will be able to get hands on with the latest in telecom tech.

“It makes it really fun for an engineer to work here.”