Pleora wraps up Chinese road show

A team from Ottawa-based Pleora Technologies is returning to home soil after a week-long tour of China.

The Canadian Trade Commission invited the video interface supplier on the trip as part of China’s Smart City initiative. The Pleora team visited the cities of Shenzhen, Chengdu, Wuhan and Wuxi to discuss traffic infrastructure monitoring.

It’s quite an evolution for a 14-year-old company that got its start in the automated quality inspection market. The company was the first to bring Gigabit Ethernet to that market. Its external frame grabbers allow its customers to use any camera in any system, making Pleora’s solutions attractive to other industries as well.

Pleora has since moved into the medical and defence sectors as well.

Senior product manager John Phillips says trade shows and trips like the one just completed are excellent ways to expose the company, not just to new customers in their current sectors, but to entirely new industries as well.

“Two weeks ago, we were in Germany at the biggest biannual show for machine industry technology that’s held in Stuttgart every two years,” he says. “One of the things that became very clear to me there is that the machine industry that we’re very much a part of has a lot to offer the sports broadcast and sports recording industries.”

Mr. Phillips says Pleora is getting a lot of interest from that market.

“It’s something that we are going to add to our list of applications where I think our technology plays very well,” he says.

The Chinese trip was a great opportunity for the company on a number of levels, says Mr. Phillips.

“There is a real emphasis in China on a made-in-China solution, so it’s really important to meet with and partner up with those manufacturers, those relationships there. There’s also the opportunity to … meet potential customers and partners, but you also get to meet the end users and get a good sense of what are their challenges.”

Part of Pleora’s expansion in the last year and a half has been the addition of an employee who works remotely in China. The firm also employs one person in Europe and five people at a Quebec City research and development facility.

The company moved into a new 15,000-square-foot head office on Terry Fox Drive 14 months ago. The new office, with an additional 5,000 square feet of space, allowed the company to hire more workers in Ottawa as well. Overall, the company has 60 staff.

One of those is Harry Page, who was appointed president in early November. Before Mr. Page’s appointment, company co-founder George Chamberlain served in the dual role of president and CEO.

Mr. Page and Mr. Chamberlain have a long history together in high-tech, and Mr. Page says he was recently a partner in a consulting company that was helping Mr. Chamberlain with strategic growth decisions. As president, he will continue to do that while Mr. Chamberlain focuses on technology enhancements.

“The more I looked at Pleora, the more I became interested,” he says. “Pleora was founded in the worst chapter of Ottawa’s technology history – 2000, 2001 era – all those bumps along the way, it was one of the few – there have got to be less than a handful of companies that were founded at that time that are still operating independently, that wasn’t sold, wasn’t scooped up by a multinational, and has got solid business fundamentals.”

He calls it one of the city’s “lesser-known success stories.”

Mr. Page was also drawn to the company’s potential, saying there is no shortage of new opportunities. He says the biggest challenge for Pleora is deciding which opportunities to pursue.

“High-performance intelligence imaging is going to be pervasive in every sector of the economy.

Any time we go to a show or talk to somebody, the guys see new applications and it just drives the excitement,” he says.