Lacasse Grows Thanks to the Healthcare Sector
Access to a larger dealer network is one of the great Healthcare benefits of no longer being part of Haworth.
“The market is dominated by five major manufacturers such as Haworth, Herman Miller, and Steelcase, all of which have a network of affiliated distributors, explains Sylvain Gourneau, CEO and Chairman of the Board. When we were owned by Haworth, the affiliated distributors of other major brands did little to work with us. Today, we have access to 100% of the distributors.”
So far, the company’s shipments have grown by 10% in 2014, compared to the same period in 2013. “Our order book is twice as full as at the same time last year”, adds Sylvain Gourneau.
Add strings to his bow
The CEO explains part of the growth to a higher penetration rate in certain market sectors, in particular, that of the transformation health care network.
Groupe Lacasse has also won the contract for fitting out the premises of the future CHUM Research Center as well as the furnishing contract for the McGill University Health Centre. The latter is also the most important project ever undertaken by the group.
The acquisition in May 2014 of Neocase, a designer and manufacturer of thermofused furniture for healthcare establishments, enabled the group to increase its sales force and its distribution capacity in this sector.
Groupe Lacasse had good reasons to diversify. In 2008-2009, the market for commercial and institutional furniture (business offices, administrative positions, etc.), by far the most important, fell suddenly by around 40%. Due to the crisis, companies were postponing these types of projects.
This niche slowly returned to growth in 2010-2011. But the health sector has improved by 12 to 15%, even during the difficult years. The aging of the population requires the construction of new infrastructures, which must be furnished.
Starting in 2011, Groupe Lacasse increased its R&D capabilities to develop products for the psychological healthcare sector. This is how the Harmonia collection was born.
A good blow to the Quebec economy
Before acquiring Neocase, Groupe Lacasse had acquired the manufacturer Chaises Sylco, also established in Saint-Pie.
Despite the takeover of Groupe Lacasse by the new Quebec owners, the American giant Haworth continues to produce certain pieces of furniture sold by Lacasse. This is the case of chairs from the United Chairs brand, manufactured in Bruce, Mississippi.
This is a good move for both companies. Groupe Lacasse did not make upholstered armchairs, an increasingly sought-after product. If the products are popular, up to 50 jobs could be created.
In addition to diversifying, the company has emphasized creativity, productivity, and sustainable development.
It has five full-time designers and 12 product engineers who develop the new furniture that will fuel growth.
In addition, Groupe Lacasse continuously analyzes its productivity to determine the production points where it can make gains. The executives invested more than three million dollars in a new automated feed drill in 2013, which gives them five times the capacity. Thus, 600 to 700 parts can be drilled per shift, instead of 125 to 150.
As far as sustainable development is concerned, Groupe Lacasse does not bury any waste or residue. Everything is reused. Even the cutting dust is sold to a company. That uses it in the production of energy by cogeneration. “The market is sensitive to environmental protection,” concludes the leader.