How one company is turning heads in Europe

Getting access to key decision-makers and the latest market insight can be two of the biggest challenges for Canadian companies. That was certainly the case for Ciara Technologies, the Montreal-based firm targeting Europe’s competitive automotive market.

The company designs, services and exports computer systems to more than 3,000 customers in more than 70 countries. Ciara Technologies works with small and medium-sized enterprises, Fortune 500 companies and governments in industries ranging from health care to defence and education.

André Lamarre, Ciara Technologies Executive Vice President, says the company was finding it difficult to make connections in the European automotive market, but he credits the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service with helping the company.

On a recent trip to Germany and Italy, Lamarre says Trade Commissioners connected Ciara Technologies with the major players in the automotive industry, like BMW. “In the normal course of our business, it would have taken us a very long time to be able to make these connections,” he says. “But because of the TCS, the doors opened rapidly.”

Ciara Technologies at the Farnborough International Airshow

“The TCS was able to rapidly organize meetings with different companies at this key aerospace fair,” says Lamarre. “It would have taken us several months to develop these kinds of contacts. With this network, we were able to corner the market and meet with the key people at Farnborough in three days.”

Specifically, Lamarre notes that the relationship Ciara Technologies has been able to nurture with BMW has continued to grow. “They have invited us to participate in a huge tender that is going to take place in the spring,” he says.

Lamarre not only credit the TCS with enhancing the company’s networks, but also with providing key insight into foreign markets.

“We are not in Germany every day so we're not able to understand everything that is happening there,” Lamarre explains. “But the TCS team is there every day so they have a very good understanding of the situation in that country.”

The TCS was able to give Ciara Technologies inside information on the automotive industry and details on the long-term strategic plans of key companies, Lamarre says.

“When you meet with a company it's very important to understand the challenges they are facing and their next steps,” he says.

“Volkswagen, for example, wants to become the most important automotive group within the next five years. So the approach we're going to take with them is going to be quite different than with a specialized manufacturer such as Lamborghini, that builds their cars by hand,” says Lamarre.

“Six months ago, we were a completely unknown company and now companies such as BMW are inviting us to participate in their bidding process,” he says. “Ultimately, our goal is to win those bids.”

Lamarre credits the passion and knowledge of trade commissioners in developing a vast network of contacts and market knowledge that then gets passed on to Canadian businesses.

“They made time for us,” he says, and advises Canadian companies to contact the TCS for help when looking to effectively do business abroad.

“Use them to the max,” he says. “They are competent and knowledgeable.”

For more information, visit the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service.

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