Kanata’s Syntronic pulls trigger on third acquisition in last eight months

As layoffs in the tech industry mount amid plummeting valuations and an overall economic slowdown, Syntronic is flipping the script and adding to its footprint in the National Capital Region.

Bucking a trend that’s seen tech firms across North America – including Ottawa-based e-commerce juggernaut Shopify – cut staff over the past 12 months in a bid to shore up their balance sheets, the Sweden-based engineering and design firm has boosted its local headcount by nearly 150 people during that same time as demand for its services surges.

Syntronic announced this week it recently closed its third acquisition of a local company in the last eight months. 

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The deal for Gatineau-based Vision Circuits Technologies will add 11 employees to Syntronic’s payroll, which now exceeds 550 people in the National Capital Region. Financial terms were not disclosed. 

Founded in 1994, Vision Circuits designs printed circuit boards found in computers, mobile devices and other electronic equipment. The company has worked with some of the world’s foremost aerospace firms, as well as NASA and various military organizations. 

Syntronic Canada president Hans Molin said Vision Circuits’ offerings will complement the firm’s existing services, which include developing and servicing a wide range of technology for customers in the automotive, medtech, industrial and telecommunications sectors. 

“It’s an area where we wanted to grow,” Molin said, noting the deal will make Syntonic one of the three largest circuit-board designers in North America in terms of market share. “We’ve been trying to grow organically, and we found this opportunity to grow quicker. It’s not a core service of our customers, but it’s always something they need.”

The seeds of the transaction were planted more than two years ago before the pandemic temporarily put the brakes on negotiations, Vision Circuits president Germain Leclerc explained.

While talks were suspended, the companies worked together on some projects to see “if the fit is really there,” Molin added. 

Finding plenty of synergies, they officially pulled the trigger on the deal last year.

Molin said the transaction adds blue-chip clients to Syntronic’s customer base while bolstering the organization’s presence in Montreal, where about half of Vision Circuits’ employees reside and where Syntronic operates a design house it opened in 2021.

The Gatineau firm’s clients “have been a perfect fit for us,” Molin told Techopia on Thursday. “We haven’t been able to get the foot in (the circuit-board design market), and now with Vision Circuits on board, it’s an easy sell.”

The new deal is just the latest acquisition for Syntronic, which has been on an M&A tear of late. 

It purchased DragonWave’s Kanata operations last spring, its first-ever acquisition. It followed that up by buying another Ottawa-area company, Stittsville-based manufacturer Lloyd Douglas Solutions, last September.  

In addition, Syntronic recently brought on board a group of about 25 Ottawa-based network communications software designers – another move aimed at bringing it closer to its goal of being a “one-stop shop” for customers looking for everything from new product ideas to prototyping, design and repair services.

“For us, it’s about diversifying,” Molin said. “It’s just dividing the risk for us.”

Even as the economy teeters on the brink of recession, Molin expresses “cautious optimism” that 2023 will be another banner year for Syntronic Canada. He said the company expects revenues to grow between 10 and 15 per cent in fiscal 2023 compared with a year earlier, adding he is confident it will reach its stated goal of employing at least 750 people at its Canadian operations by the end of 2025.

While most of those staffers will be in the Ottawa region, the company will continue to expand its footprint in Montreal and Toronto, he added.

“Those are markets that we really haven’t started to penetrate fully yet,” Molin said.

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