Solacom names Lazenby chairman, adds veteran executive Ronayne to board

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Bruce Lazenby didn’t waste time making his presence felt on Solacom Technologies’ board of directors.

The former head of Invest Ottawa, who joined Solacom’s board in December, was named the company’s new chairman on Monday. He replaces retired Maj. Gen. Skip Armstrong, who has stepped down from the post.

A former chief executive at local software firm FreeBalance before spending five years as CEO of Invest Ottawa, Mr. Lazenby brings more than three decades of senior management experience to his new role.

Solacom, which makes technology that combines voice, video and data applications for emergency communication systems such as 911, has customers in more than 30 countries from Australia to the Middle East. Founded in 1998, the firm employs a total of about 75 people at its headquarters in Gatineau and in the United States.

“The company’s got some great growth potential, and I’m excited to help them achieve that,” said Mr. Lazenby, who left Invest Ottawa last year and is now in charge of business development at the Regional Group.

“We’re always looking at creating better ways to connect people with emergency services. I’m just really pleased with the market, the opportunity and the company.”

The graduate of Royal Military College said he hopes to draw on his experience selling to international markets to help Solacom expand its global presence. In Mr. Lazenby’s six years as chief executive at FreeBalance, the software firm grew its revenues by 300 per cent.

“I was grateful for this opportunity,” he said. “When it comes to 911 systems, these sorts of things are critically important. They save lives.”

Mr. Lazenby isn’t the only high-profile tech veteran to enter the Solacom fold. The company announced Monday that Donna Ronayne, who spent more than a decade as chief marketing officer at Halogen Software, has also joined its board.

“She saw the same opportunity in (Solacom) that I did,” said Mr. Lazenby, who helped recruit Ms. Ronayne. “Donna was one of the key people at Halogen to create the growth that made them Canada’s darling when they went public in 2013. What Donna did was take that small company and make it omnipresent in the markets they were pursuing.”

Solacom CEO Pierre Plangger said the additions of Mr. Lazenby and Ms. Ronayne will help boost the growing company’s sales and marketing savvy.

“The new board appointments strengthen our customer-focused values and provide the expertise to help us accelerate achievement of our goals,” he said in a statement.

Asked about his successor at Invest Ottawa, former Microsoft Canada executive Michael Tremblay, Mr. Lazenby had nothing but praise.

He said only two applicants for the job actually contacted him to seek his thoughts on the agency's future direction, and Mr. Tremblay was one of them.

“Right away, that told me he was serious about it,” Mr. Lazenby said. “He understood it’s an important role and he didn’t want to enter into it lightly. His focus and his experience I think are going to be great for the organization. The connections that he’s got at all levels of government are going to be really important.”

As for offering advice to the man now occupying his former office, he said he’d be more than happy to act as a sounding board if called upon.

“If he wants to chat, I’ll be more than willing to sit down with him,” Mr. Lazenby said. “But this is his show, and he’s going to run it the way he wants.”