Eyeing new markets, Ottawa software firm Solufy acquired by U.S. firm

Mario-Gerry
Mario Boileau (left) and Gerry Lamarche, co-founders of Ottawa's Solufy. Photo provided.

Ottawa-based Solufy, which counts the likes of NASA and Disney among its clients, announced this week it had been acquired by a U.S. firm, ending its 15-year independent streak in the capital.

North Carolina’s Prometheus Group will acquire the 23-person Ottawa software firm as well as another American company, DataSplice, in a double acquisition. All three firms operate in the asset management space, with both Solufy and DataSplice focusing on IBM’s Maximo offering.

Terms of the deals were not disclosed. Ottawa-based Sampford Advisors advised both acquired firms in the transaction, with Solufy also receiving services from Borden Ladner Gervais LLP.

Solufy was founded in 2003 by president and CEO Mario Boileau and vice-president Gerry Lamarche. The firm started with its flagship product – perhaps prophetically named given Solufy’s recent news – AKWIRE.

Though Solufy launched the product as an offline suite of tools for Maximo and landed a big initial sale with NAV Canada, the co-founders realized shortly after that there were market gaps in planning and scheduling offerings. The firm pivoted to focus all of its attention on this market and built out AKWIRE with workforce availability, time sheets and data management capabilities.

“Since then, that’s been our focus,” Boileau tells OBJ.

Big name customers

That focus has paid off, with clients such as NASA, Disney and Toronto’s Pearson International Airport all making use of the made-in-Ottawa software.

Developing a product solely to serve IBM’s product may seem niche, but Boileau says there are around 15,000 companies using Maximo today and every one of them is a potential client of Solufy. While the firm has had success finding customers at IBM conferences, a great deal of Solufy’s leads are inbound – companies looking for the best way to maximize their Maximo.

“We don’t have to go calling all of these customers. They somehow found us,” says Boileau.

Solufy has been bootstrapped across its decade and a half in business, save for a loan from the Business Development Bank of Canada in 2016 that saw the firm double its headcount from 11 to 22.

Boileau says the team was looking this past April at how to take the company to the “next level.” While it considered taking venture capital, the Prometheus acquisition opportunity won out.

Boileau doesn’t fault anyone who makes the decision to take VC, but says taking on investors while working in such a niche industry didn’t make sense for Solufy.

“They don’t really have experience or expertise in what we do. With Prometheus, it was such an obvious match.”

Complementary solutions

While Solufy has always been focused on IBM’s solution, it recently began taking steps to serve the SAP-based market, already a strength of Prometheus Group. Rather than build out a whole new product, Boileau and co. saw the opportunity to marry their Maximo specialization with Prometheus’s SAP offerings.

“Eventually we would’ve ended up being competitor. Why spend resources, money on something they’re already doing and vice-versa for them?” Boileau says.

The next steps for Solufy are getting to know its new partners better. Boileau and Lamarche will each remain with the firm as directors of planning and scheduling for Maximo, and while new hires aren’t guaranteed at Solufy, there’s enough opportunity in front of the newly combined companies to keep all hands on deck.

“We’re not planning on firing anyone. There’s no extra fat, let’s say; we’re very busy on both sides,” Boileau says.