Kanata's Simutech sold to U.S. training firm in hope of boosting R&D, marketing clout

Samer Forzley
Samer Forzley is CEO of Kanata-based Simutech Multimedia, which has been acquired by U.S.-based TPC Training. File photo

A local firm that trains workers to repair and maintain machinery using software that simulates real-life conditions is joining forces with a U.S. company in a bid to expand its market reach.

Ottawa-based Simutech Multimedia has been acquired by TPC Training, the companies said earlier this month. Terms of the transaction were not released.

TPC, which is headquartered in Illinois and has offices in Denver and North Carolina, provides in-person, digital and virtual training solutions to facilities such as schools as well as customers in the food and beverage, consumer goods, pulp and paper and manufacturing industries.

Simutech CEO Samer Forzley said he and TPC chief executive Derek Dunaway initially began talking about different ways of collaborating almost two years ago. 

“We jelled right away,” he told OBJ on Monday. “We have a similar culture, we have a similar look on the market. Every time we talked (an acquisition) felt more natural.”  

Founded more than two decades ago, Simutech has a growing roster of more than 1,000 customers that includes the likes of Amazon, Kraft, Pepsi and Toyota. Early last year, the company launched a 3D version of its software designed to train the next generation of industrial maintenance workers to diagnose problems and repair complex electrical systems on factory floors.

While the 33-person firm has more than doubled its headcount in the last two years and has been growing its revenues at a similar clip, Forzley said he felt Simutech needed more R&D know-how as well as additional sales and marketing muscle to continue on its upward trajectory.

With 150 employees and five decades of experience in the training space, TPC has the talent and financial resources to give its smaller Ottawa partner the boost it needs, he added.

Shared customer base

“It’s just going to help grow the product,” Forzley said, adding the two companies already share many customers and offer solutions that complement ​– rather than compete with ​– each other.

The market’s response to the deal has been enthusiastic, he said.

“The more we talked to (clients) about putting the two things together, the more head nods we got,” Forzley explained. “We’re quite excited about it.”  

He said Simutech has seen demand for its products accelerate during the COVID-19 pandemic as companies have had to change gears and train many of their employees remotely. In the past couple of months, the firm has added to its sales staff and hired veteran Montreal-based multimedia software executive Francois Painchaud to head up its 3D simulation development team.

“We’re growing at a good rate,” Forzley said.

TPC chief executive Derek Dunaway said Simutech’s products are ideal in a world where physical distancing severely limits in-person learning opportunities.   

“No one wants to share equipment,” he explained. “People are very hesitant to have people come to their facilities, and the ability to be able to teach these types of skills and provide actual hands-on experience in exercising those skills through a virtual environment is huge right now. I thought this was important before (the pandemic). Now it’s 10 times more important.”

Forzley said he will stay on as a consultant to help oversee his firm’s integration into its new owner’s operations before deciding on his future. Dunaway said it will continue to be business as usual at Simutech’s Kanata office, adding he hopes to hire more “great talent” from the National Capital Region.

“We’re very committed to the area,” he said.