Just days after taking over as chief executive at ABB Canada, Nathalie Pilon turned the first sod Wednesday for the electric power and automation company’s new $70-million high-tech centre in the Montreal Technoparc.
“This joint project with developer Broccolini Construction Inc. will have 300,000 square feet of space and bring our complete energy value chain under one roof by early 2017,” she said after the groundbreaking ceremony.”It’s part of the worldwide ABB Group’s 2020 global strategy.”
ABB Canada named Pilon, 49, a chartered accountant by training and former president of subsidiary Thomas & Betts Canada, as chief executive officer in August, but she took over only this month. She is a member of the ABB Americas executive board.
This year, she won the Association of Quebec Women in Finance leadership award. She managed ABB Canada’s low-voltage products division before moving to Thomas & Betts and replaces Daniel Assandri who led ABB Group’s Canadian expansion over the past five years.
“We see lots more growth ahead … Canada’s energy needs are becoming more diverse and technically demanding as we meet tomorrow’s environmental challenges,” she said. “I’ve had 20 years’ experience in energy products manufacturing and distribution working with Hydro-Québec and other utilities, many different industries and in infrastructure projects.”
The new high-tech centre will house ABB Canada’s headquarters, research and development activities, manufacturing, assembly and testing of state-of-the-art electrical products, including transmission. It will also focus on robotics, remote sensing gear and the transportation sector. Its Varennes plant produces heavy transformers for transmission systems.
ABB Group designed and built Hydro-Québec’s pioneering 1,500-kilometre HVDC system delivering James Bay power to southern Quebec and New England. It is now replacing the old control and protection systems with the latest equipment. The new high-tech centre will do complete engineering for future transmission systems.
ABB Canada has annual revenue of about $2 billion with more than 5,000 employees in 56 locations across Canada — including 3,000 employees in Quebec. Broccolini will build the new centre and ABB Canada has a 10-year renewable lease.
The parent ABB Group, based in Zurich, Switzerland, operates in about 100 countries and employs 140,000. Revenue totalled more than US$40 billion in 2014.