For more than 60 years, the Paco Group has been innovating in the field of electromechanical equipment and today achieves more than 95% of its turnover on the international scene in three very different business sectors, based on the same system of patented lift, the spiral lift. Its general manager, Philippe Laforest, tells us how the cylinder developed by Paco Group conquered the world.
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The Paco Group was born in 1960, in downtown Montreal, where the acronym of the company, now established in Saint-Hubert since 1992, is still clearly visible on Wellington Street for all motorists entering the city.
“My father, an engineer, and a colleague from Polytechnique joined forces with an administrator to found Paco Group with the aim of developing electromechanical equipment and industrial solutions for different sectors of activity.
“They quickly designed a concrete block palletizer that was very successful in the 1970s throughout the North American market. At that time, we did 90% of our turnover in the United States and 10% in Canada,” says the trained economist who joined the family business as CEO in 1989.
In the late 1970s, the Denise-Pelletier Theater asked Groupe Paco to design a motorized transportation system, and the company quickly realized that this was a promising market.
Grupo Paco was an integrated workshop, and the idea was to develop several products at the same time. We jumped into this and quickly realized that there was an interest in systems capable of lifting large load capacities while remaining very compact. This is where we designed the electromechanical actuator that we call the Spiralift.
The Spiralift allowed the Paco Group to achieve international progress in the field of stage machinery during the 1980s and 1990s, where its systems were installed in the largest theaters in the world by its Gala Systems division, from Las Vegas to New York or Tokyo.
“We continued the development and began to design and install transformable rooms, whether they are convention halls, concert halls or multifunctional centers. Since the 2000s, it has become the fastest growing sector and today generates 70% of our income”, specifies the CEO of Grupo Paco.
From the car to the retractable pool
The Paco Group offers its transformable room solutions in more than 60 countries. The company has made inroads into Australia, India and even Africa, where it has built a major cultural complex in Namibia.
All countries seek to equip themselves with large cultural or tourist infrastructures, and Gala Systèmes allows them to carry out their projects for transformable rooms.
At the same time, the Paco Group is always looking to offer new solutions to companies from different industrial sectors.
“In the 1990s, we saw good potential for our Spiralift lifting system for automakers to raise their ergonomic tables on their assembly line. They couldn’t use the hydraulic jacks because they posed a contamination risk.
“We work with Renault, who finally approved our Spiralift cylinder system and we modified seven of their factories around the world. Then there were Hyundai, Kia, GM and some Chrysler factories. In total, our Paco Spiralift division had to install more than 20,000 actuators for car manufacturers around the world”, evaluates Philippe Laforest.
The accelerated change to fully electric cars opens up great potential for the Paco Group, as all the big manufacturers must transform their assembly lines to adapt them to their new production.
“It is a very buoyant market for us, and the volume of units produced will be important, but in terms of added value, it will continue to be less important than the stage machinery and transformable halls sector where we are also project managers while we are the ones who We do all the installation and transformation of the rooms, not just the manufacturing and breaking of the cylinders”, underlines the general manager.
Finally, less than ten years ago, the Paco Group created a new division, Akvo Spiralift, specialized in moving floors for swimming pools.
“We started this activity at Laval University, where we installed our first mobile bottom, which allows us to adjust the depth of public pools according to customers.
“Now, we install our systems in hotels and private homes where we can transform a swimming pool into a large terrace, depending on the event. We are here in space management”, observes Philippe Laforest.
The Gala Systems division generates 70% of the group’s income, Paco Spiralift 20% and Akvo Spiralift 10%. The company is always trying to find new innovative industrial solutions and has a team of about thirty people who do just that.
The Paco Group employs around 130 people at its Saint-Hubert facility and has mobile teams establishing locations around the world. The company generates 50% of its turnover in the United States, 45% in Asia and Europe, and 5% in Canada.
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