Asset management specialists with a global footprint

By Rajitha Sivakumaran

sti-maintenanceAsset management, the process of implementing, maintaining, optimizing and discarding of assets, is one of the key elements of success for any large operation, whether it is public or private. Québec-based STI Maintenance specializes in exactly that and more.

“Our mission is to help clients better manage their assets,” said Claircy Proulx, the company’s president.

The expertise of Proulx’s team of 85 professionals extends to assets found in various fields such as industrial corporations, IT and infrastructure. Situated in Northern Quebec since 1992, the company is located in the province’s industrial hub and has a heightened link to Rio Tinto’s aluminium smelters.

Why asset management is important

Optimizing maintenance management tends to be overlooked and often drops off the priority list. In the long run, however, optimized asset management is pivotal for capping unnecessary expenditures. The example Proulx used to demonstrate the importance of asset management is buying a house, but neglecting repairs for 20 years. Not only does this bring down the value of the investment, but the homeowner is now charged with a costly list of repairs. Equipment for commercial or public use works the same way, says Proulx. Regular maintenance is less costly than doing a one-time lump sum repair. In fact, there may come a point in time when the asset is no longer salvageable.

Proulx’s world is a highly technical one and revolves around best practices in maintenance and reliability using the best human and technological resources. Among the best technological resources is a CMMS (Computerized Maintenance Management System) called Maximo; a highly advanced system developed by IBM, one of STI Maintenance’s business partners.

During its first 14 years of existence, STI Maintenance focused on its expertise in maintenance, conducting in-depth process and business practice analyses, providing technical training and outsourcing technical professionals. However, with time it became clear that STI Maintenance was also equipped to implement a CMMS according to client requirements while respecting maintenance and reliability processes. STI Maintenance extended its service offer in 2006 to include a programming department. Its success was beyond doubt and the company grew to become a premier business partner with IBM, a company valued at $82 billion.

“As consultants we have the opportunity to see and analyze a lot of organizations,” Proulx said.

Apart from big corporations like Rio Tinto and General Cable, STI Maintenance has provided services to an impressive list of top-tiered Canadian governmental organizations and cities, like Hydro Québec, Montreal, Québec City and even universities like Laval University and University of Montreal. Though its roots lie in Canada, the company’s footprint is global. Mining activities in parts of Africa have even called upon STI Maintenance, enabling it to further expand its global footprint. Proulx herself has travelled across four continents to visit clients and attend conferences.

Companies often consult STI Maintenance in order to optimize their maintenance and reliability management processes. To better implement these changes, the company also provides custom training in maintenance management, thereby helping various company players and stakeholders better grasp best practices as they apply to their industry. Furthermore, it offers change management services to guide organizations and their resources in accomplishing these tasks. Although the company works mostly with large corporations and public institutions, STI Maintenance also helps out small businesses during acquisitions. The merging process can often be a transformative experience for small companies as they learn to adopt the philosophy and logistics of the parent company. Proulx’s team is equipped to help make this transition a little bit smoother.

Challenge: Integrating best practices with the best technology

This highly technical world may sound foreign to many, but even for those like Proulx, who has been deeply immersed in it for a long time now, there are challenges. For her, it all comes down to integrating best practices with the best technology.

“The challenge is to always be on the lookout for the next cutting-edge technology. Continuous improvement to be ahead is a big challenge,” she said.

The company has been doing well for itself though. Proulx herself has been on a fast track towards success. She became Vice President of STI Maintenance in 1997, only a year after joining the company. Six years later, she went on to purchase the company. Last year, Proulx was recognized as one of the finalists for the Businesswomen of Québec award and earlier this year, she was named Businessperson of the Year by Les Rendez-vous des Gens d’Affaires du Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean.

However, Proulx is not done yet. Expansion is at the top of her list. “The new generation of entrepreneurs, I love that generation. It’s easier to expand using partnerships and collaboration than before, and I think it will be good for us to expand around the world,” she said.