Serving Dorchester, Belmont, Thorndale, Thamesford, Putnam, Crampton, Avon, Harrietsville-Mossley and surrounding area

Armatec celebrates 20 years

of innovation

photo by Wendy Spence
Armatec president and CEO Karl Pfister poses for a picture in front of a light armoured vehicle at the company’s Dorchester facility.

by Wendy Spence

     A major milestone was recently marked with Oktoberfest music, food and beverages. Guests at Armatec Survivability in Dorchester helped celebrate the company’s 20th anniversary. Founder, president and CEO Karl Pfister credited his team for the success.
     “We are well set to move forward and excited about it,” said business development director Rod Flick. He added that it’s only possible with partners that support the company, including Thames Centre.
     The festivities featured cuisine from Pfister’s native country Germany, including bratwurst, weisswurst and Oktoberfest sausages, pork hocks, sauerkraut, spaetzle and apple strudel, as well as accordion music performed by a man wearing lederhosen, a video history of the company, speeches by dignitaries including the CEO and tours of the facilities.
     Flick said, “The main thing is that we keep the guys alive and bring them home.”
     The innovative company takes the base hull of a military vehicle and integrates protective and automotive solutions that work in unison to enhance vehicle survivability and mission capability. Armatec’s approach ensures that the total vehicle is designed to protect better than its individual parts. They are proud to provide lifesaving solutions. The main markets are North America, Europe and Oceania. About 95 per cent of Armatec’s business is export. Customers include a variety of governments, end-users and original equipment manufacturers.
     The 300,000 square foot facility on Newton Avenue in the DaVinci Business Park in Dorchester facilitates all aspects of the business – research and development, engineering, management, manufacturing, logistics and business support. There’s also a vehicle test track and hill climb and full-service ballistics test range with the capacity for growth in manufacturing and employee volume in the future.
     The current contractual commitments will sustain the business until 2022.
     Armatec provides employment opportunities for Dorchester, London and the surrounding communities. The company also offers internships through Western University and Fanshawe College and supports groundbreaking research at St. Joseph’s Hospital and local youth engineering programs such as Lord Dorchester’s Beavertronics and formula SAE racing at Western University.
     Pfister said it’s very rewarding to be able to provide employment for such a large group of people. He started out as the lone employee in the basement of his Thorndale home in 1997. That number grew to 30 employees in 2005 and almost 190 this year. A total of 75 per cent of the employees have been with Armatec for more than 10 years. “I’m happy about my team,” said Pfister, adding that there’s a huge pool of experienced workers who have the equipment and knowledge to carry on. “I’m now basically a facilitator.”
     Part of the secret to Armatec’s success is being persistent and not overextending themselves, according to the company president. “It wasn’t always easy,” he admitted. They persevered with a strong team and by believing in themselves. “If I do the right thing long enough, it works out,” explained Pfister. Staying true to their values and doing what they believe is right have been important.
     He is proud that the innovative team has achieved excellence, performing technical tasks that have never been done before.
     The greatest challenge is to stay ahead of the curve. To achieve this, Flick keeps in touch with a network of contacts in the industry to find out what people are working on and stays apprised of new contracts. In order for Armatec to stay in a competitive position, they have to interpret what’s going on, which involves a lot of knocking on doors according to the business development director. Jobs are posted on a regular basis. The company has a number of positions available right now, including for skilled labourers. They encourage young students with an exemplary attitude to get the proper education so they can join Armatec’s team of self-starter innovators in the future.
     The company’s first customer was the Canadian government. Armatec won a major contract to provide seats used in LAV (light armoured vehicles) II vehicles sent to Kosovo.
     One of the high points of the past 20 years was in 2005 when Armatec was chosen by the U.S. Marine Corps as the supplier of record for their LAV II vehicle upgrades, resulting in significant opportunities for employment and export sales.
     The company boasts major breakthroughs every year since the 300,000 square foot, $40-million state-of-the-art Armatec plant opened in Dorchester in 2010. The London Chamber of Commerce has recognized Armatec for its achievements on a number of occasions.

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