Exceptional Growth, Quality Manufacturer

corde_electriqueBy Rajitha Sivakumaran

Quebec-based B2B wiring harness manufacturer, Cordé Électrique, went from four employees to over 50 in a very short period of time. This was something that its CEO Lise Déziel had not expected. When she first opened her company in 2010, she envisioned a small business with a dozen employees. Four years and 45 employees later, she even starting wondering if she had the skills to be a CEO. Suddenly, she realized that only the sky was the limit, and her vision for the company transformed into something great: to be the best in the field of wiring harness in Quebec.

“What sets us apart is our flexibility, our technical expertise and our speed,” said Déziel. “We manufacture harnesses in small and medium batches with state-of-the-art equipment. We are a small company, equipped with large machinery and technical control equipment, which allows us to offer superior quality products in exceptional time.”

The company is based in Valcourt, QC, and specializes in wiring harness production, which is essential for the automotive industry. Wiring harnesses are cables that are bound together to carry electrical power and/or signals.

Not only does the company manufacture wiring harness for various industries, Cordé specializes in cost reduction analyses, development of test benches, prototyping services, inspection and more. Cordé’s parts are seen in everything from commercial and recreational vehicles to ambulances and fire trucks. One of their recent projects include a fully customized harness for BRP’s Spyder trailer.

As a result, the company’s awards portfolio is quite extensive. Cordé’s growth did not go unnoticed. In 2014, it was recognized by the Réseau SADC & CAE for its exceptional growth. It was recognized twice by the Commission de la Santé et de la Sécurité du Travail (Commission of Health and Safety in the Workplace; CSST) as the SME Winner of Health and Safety in 2016 and Winner of Health and Safety Innovation in the Workplace in 2015. Déziel herself was recognized by the Réseau des Femmes d’Affaires du Québec (Women’s Business Network) for two consecutive years.

The story behind tremendous growth
After completing her studies in quality assurance for the food sector, Déziel received a life-changing opportunity at an electronics factory. Her job centred on ISO implementation at first, but when the company asked her to work for their new wiring harness factory, Déziel met a trade that she immediately fell in love with: the field of harnesses.

Life rarely follows a steady path, but Déziel’s career progressed from team leader to coordinator to eventually production manager in a wiring harness shop. Afterwards came the downhill ride as her employer was acquired by foreign buyers, fell into bankruptcy, liquidated, shut down, opened up as a new company and then closed once again a few years later. Finding herself unemployed, Déziel went back to the food sector — her career had come full circle.

Even though she had what others coveted most — a good work schedule, competitive salary and challenges to keeps things interesting — she was far from satisfied with her job. The experience lacked passion, and Déziel was suffocating. And this is what compelled her to start her own wiring harness shop.

In August 2010, Cordé Électrique was simply a thought. In just four weeks, Déziel created a business plan, found financing, premises and the necessary equipment, and hired four people. On Sept. 6, 2010, Déziel opened her factory, and she and her employees shared a small space, only 800 square feet in size.

With Déziel’s experience and knowledge, Cordé Électrique’s growth reached an exceptional level, growing by more than 1,000 percent in the first three years. The company now sits in a 23,000-square-foot space and employs more than 50 people.

But Cordé Électrique did not jump to the top without overcoming a few challenges. “As the growth was dazzling and I was hiring continuously, I soon found myself with a major training problem,” Déziel said. In the beginning, the company didn’t have enough resources to provide training and had no knowledge of government services that could help.

Overcoming the training obstacle was difficult, but Déziel began by setting up a small internal training program, which prioritized training that focused on quality assurance. The program rapidly evolved into a task force called continuous improvement. “Since that time, continuous improvement is the DNA of the company. It is part of our culture,” Déziel said.

Despite being well-established in the field, the challenges continue. Like most industries, global competition is a challenge for Cordé Électrique. But the company has a few tricks up its sleeve. Even though it is a relatively small business, Cordé is equipped like a large company, which gives it a competitive edge. “We are constantly investing in technology to stay at the forefront in our industry. It is with this in mind that we have acquired a quality laboratory for crimping,” Déziel said. This laboratory allows Cordé to ensure a high level of quality control for its customers. The company is now in a position to expand across Canada and into the United States.

Presently, Cordé Électrique is in the processing of implementing the TS 16949 quality standard, a demanding version of the ISO 9001 standard that is specific to the automotive industry. According to Déziel, this standard is structured to limit or possibly eliminate the risks of products that are delivered in bulk.

“Cordé Électrique wants to differentiate itself by adopting innovative tools and working with techniques used by large companies to remain efficient,” Déziel said.