Genetec, a little-known company from Montreal, is nevertheless the most important designer and supplier of video surveillance software and security solutions in the world. Founded in 1997 by electrical engineer Pierre Racz, the company has recorded an annual growth rate of 30% every year for 20 years and works each month on more than 1000 different system implementation projects.
A month ago, Genetec opened a new security operations experience center in Mexico City, the fifth after those in Montreal, Paris, London and Singapore, where its customers can test the many security solutions that the company developed.
“We have nearly 2,000 employees worldwide, including 1,500 in Quebec, mainly in Montreal, but also in Quebec, Sherbrooke and Drummondville, where we have research centers,” explains Pierre Racz, who founded Genetec in 1997. .
Ex-electrical engineer for the Canadian Marconi, Pierre Racz first developed logistics management software for a firm that had bought Marconi’s activities in this sector while also taking an interest in video surveillance.
“I left Marconi and continued to work on logistics software for some clients and founded Genetec wanting to develop a video surveillance system for highways. In the early 2000s, we made 85% of our revenue with our surveillance camera management software,” says Pierre Racz.
Another 40% comes from companies in the industrial sector – power generation centers, major oil and mining companies like Brazilian giant Vale.
Finally, the commercial sector generates 20% of the group’s income. Genetec is notably responsible for managing the 200,000 CCTV cameras installed in Target stores in the United States.
“There are four or five companies like ours in the world, but we’re the biggest,” says Pierre Racz.
Genetec deploys its video surveillance systems built on a network architecture capable of integrating multiple interfaces and different security technologies in 159 countries. The company has more than 42,500 customers.
“Our first client was the Montreal Water Sanitation Department, which wanted to protect access to its sites. Hydro-Québec then allowed us to significantly improve our systems when we were selected to monitor its production sites in the mid-2000s. We had to go through the requirements of its cybersecurity department,” explains the CEO.
Genetec’s great strength, according to Pierre Racz, lies in its ability to innovate and design systems adapted to the concerns of its customers.
“We evolve with our customers and we are able to anticipate their needs. Target, for example, was having difficulty tracking down significant gaps in its inventory, including seeing a $1.5 million hole in the sale of its lampshades.
“We indexed the video from the cameras with the receipts to realize that the cashiers only recorded the price of the lamp and not that of the lampshades”, explains Pierre Racz.
Thanks to its entry detectors in sites under video surveillance, Genetec systems also make it possible to quickly report missing persons in the event of major disasters.
“We can send the security teams to the right places from reading the entries. In fact, we can adapt our systems according to the specific needs of each company or organization”, indicates the CEO.
Since its foundation in 1997, Genetec has never had recourse to outside investors and has always self-financed its growth. Pierre Racz and his partner Alain Côté — “a friend I knew in kindergarten who is the chief financial officer,” says the founder — are the only two shareholders of Genetec.
The company that generates only 3% of its turnover in Quebec prefers to carry out its projects without having to worry about the expectations of shareholders.
“We took five years to develop our license plate reading system and it cost us 2 million, but we were able to support it without having to report to anyone,” said Pierre Racz.
“We have made contracts for large pharmaceutical companies based in China which require that the cameras used are not of Chinese origin”, indicates Pierre Racz.
When it comes to reliability, the company prides itself on managing security systems in five of the official residences of G7 leaders. “I’m not allowed to say which ones,” the CEO clarifies.
Genetec employees at its Saint-Laurent campus are also well cared for, since they can eat their meals at the company’s bistro, which is run by a chef who has worked in a Michelin-starred restaurant.
“And two of our four sous-chefs come from Lévesque and Leméac. We serve 500 healthy meals a day and there is never the same dish on the menu,” observes Pierre Racz with delight.