Made in Quebec: Reinventing the world’s stage

Made in Quebec: Reinventing the world’s stage


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Published on 06 December 2018
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Made in Quebec: Reinventing the world’s stage

In 41 years in business, Quebec-based Solotech has carved out an enviable place on the world stage. Working behind the scenes for the biggest names in entertainment like Elton John and Pink, Solotech has become a global leader in audio-visual technology. But what’s the secret to taking a successful local business, expanding into the U.S., and gaining a foothold in Europe? The answer: daring to be different, unparalleled expertise, and a healthy dose of patience.

From backstage to front and centre

Solotech was founded in Montreal in 1977. Today the company boasts a star-studded international client roster that includes The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Justin Timberlake, Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga. As President and CEO Martin Tremblay tells it, “it took patience to get where we are today and reach this level of success. When we started off we had no idea how big the company would become.”

Solotech owes much of its success to its partners' flexibility and a couple of big breaks with long-term benefits. “Pretty much since Day 1, we've worked with Cirque du Soleil and Céline Dion. As their fame grew, they brought us with them into international markets. That opened a lot of doors for us,” says Tremblay. After establishing firm roots in the entertainment industry, the company expanded into sports, corporate events and beyond.



Offering everything to everyone

If you want to do business in international markets, you have to be ready to compete with major U.S. players—and that means you need to find a way to differentiate. Solotech understood that very early on. When other companies might have thrown in the towel, Solotech doubled down. “In our industry, everything was offered separately. When we showed up, we were totally different. We're a one-stop shop for everything our clients need,” says Tremblay. Refusing to be limited to certain specialties, the company provides the services of a whole range of professionals and skills: video, sound, lighting, rigging, stage curtains, control systems and collaborative solutions like video conferencing systems.

You might think that with such a unique and comprehensive service offering, a company like Solotech would have it made. But crossing international borders isn't exactly a cakewalk. Tremblay offers some cautionary words of wisdom: “When you realize that what you do in Quebec is unique and exportable, expanding into international markets is still a long process. Setting up shop in the U.S. and Europe requires major investments.”

Where there’s a will, there’s a way

Desjardins—more specifically, Desjardins Capital—has been part of this Quebec venture since 2013. It might have appeared risky, but the gamble paid off. “Desjardins is a financial institution that understands what people and businesses need and want,” explains Tremblay. Backing from financial institutions and shareholders is vital to the success of Quebec businesses. “Solotech had unconditional support. Desjardins was there for us when it really mattered, and that's how we were able to become global industry leaders,” he adds.

New challenges never stop coming. With new technology developing at breakneck speed, the company needs to constantly invest in the latest equipment. Solotech's equipment assets alone are worth nearly $300 million, a figure that stands to rise significantly as the company plans to conquer Europe and increase its market share in the United States. And Solotech’s Sales and Integration Division is currently working on expanding through acquisitions into the United Arab Emirates, China and South America.

Happily, no challenge has ever been too big for Solotech and its financial partners. From its beginnings in the 1970s, the Quebec business has exploded onto the world stage. And it will continue to push the limits. It’s safe to say that no stage is too big for Solotech!