2016 CAE Recipient Profile - Distech Controls Inc.

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Distech Controls Inc.

An innovation leader in energy management solutions, Distech Controls provides unique building management technologies and services that optimize energy efficiency and comfort in buildings, all the while reducing operating costs. We deliver “Innovative Solutions for Greener Buildings™” through our passion for innovation, quality, customer satisfaction, and sustainability.

Distech Controls was founded in 1995 by award-winning entrepreneur Etienne Veilleux. Headquartered in Brossard, Canada, the organization serves multiple market segments through its worldwide business divisions, service offices and a superior network of Authorized Partners. Since 2015, Distech Controls is a subsidiary of Acuity Brands Lighting, Inc.

Our mission is to deliver innovative products and leading solutions that empower businesses and individuals to achieve energy efficiency.

Our core values truly define the character of our company, and guide our decisions and strategies:

Quality, pride and integrity in everything we do

Passionate about the success of our customers and employees

Unparalled openness


Sustainability through innovation and agility


Our journey to Excellence

Similar to many other organizations, Distech Controls formalized its Quality Management System (QMS) based on ISO 9001. Shortly after completing a first ISO registration in 2005, Distech Controls’ management team quickly realized the benefits of a continuous improvement system and truly made it part of all strategic and operational activities. At the core of the QMS is the Quality Promise, a commitment to our clients’, suppliers’ and employees’ satisfaction towards our products/services, mutullay beneficial relationship and work environment, respectively. The Promise contains twenty-one (21) objectives, which are measured through real-time KPIs available in the corporate dashboard or through the Annual Client Satisfaction Survey. A few processes had a major impact on the growth and success of the QMS, notably the non conformity process, internal audit and client satisfaction survey. There are two non conformity processes implemented at Distech Controls, one to manage product non conformities and another to manage processes non conformities. The latter is the tool for all departments to raise observed inefficiencies and implement required improvements, to any process such as Order Entry, A/R and A/P, Shipping, etc. Secondly, all processes are audited every year through the internal audit program, through which an analysis of the overall process system is performed by the management team as the last step of the usual four-month calendar. Every year, this high level study of the QMS led to various initiatives to increase efficiency within certain activities and keep the quality system aligned with the current corporate objectives. Lastly, the annual client satisfaction survey has been a major input to ensure Distech Controls’ business and operational processes deliver products and services that meet clients expectations. The management team is involved in all aspects of the survey, from the questionnaire to the results analysis and finally reporting on the implementation of improvements that came out of the survey conclusions. Distech Controls was able to implement a Quality Management System that truly is centric to all activities of the organization and that continues to evolve as the internal and external environment does.

In 2009, the implementation of an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems gave the organization an opportunity to not only automate processes and improve efficiency but also to acces real-time data that would provide key information to all levels of the organization to act promptly on deviations. As such, a Corporate Dashboard comprised of 10 key performance indicators (KPIs) linked to the ERP was developed internally. Today, more than 40 KPIs connected to all systems of the company are available in one central interface, providing a global view of the organization’s health. A rigorous quality assurance process was implemented to ensure data accuracy, at all times. This Dashboard has been key in day-to-day decisions and is a real demonstration of our values of openness, as all data is shared with all employees. Currently, Distech Controls is implementing a cloud-based business intelligence solution, which will enable the organization to access any data needed from any device, anywhere, any time.

In 2010, Distech Controls purchased a company based in France that manufactures a range of HVAC, lighting and sunblind control systems, offering expertise in Integrated Room Control technology that substancially reduces a building’s energy consumption and CO2 emissions. This acquisition significantly increased Distech Controls’ market share across Europe and was a major step forward in our growth curve. From an operational perspective, it enabled us to share technology innovation and best practices across regional business units on two continents.

The year 2010 was also the implementation of a more formal strategic planning process. Based on Built to Last : Successful Habits of Visionary Companies, by James Collins and Jerry Porras, Distech Controls’ Management team elaborated the long term BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) and related 3- to 5- year corporate objectives. Every year since then, the 3- to 5- year objectives are re-evaluated and broken down into strategic annual objectives and quarterly initiatives (rocks), always in the goal of reaching our BHAG and in alignment with our mission. To support this process, Management performs a SWOT analysis, reviews prior year achievements and market analysis. Simple yet impactful improvements were brought to the process through the years to continually integrate key learnings from the past. Most importantly, the strategic plan is communicated to the entire organization and is the basis for elaborating employees’ annual objectives.

In 2011, Distech Controls president launched a new project named “100 % Customer Satisfaction”, where every customer-facing group needed to identify and implement process improvements to increase customer satisfaction, following recent declining annual client satisfaction survey results. The outcome was very positive with an important increase in the 2012 survey results. The 100% Customer Satisfaction was then transformed into a bi-weekly committee and is today the main communication channel for all issues surrounding client satisfaction: non conformities, survey results, feedback, kpi reviews, etc. This is our tool to ensure that all opportunities for improvement are in fact implemented and measured for success.

To support its growth, Distech Controls offices moved from a few locations through the years. In 2013, Etienne Veilleux decided to engage in the construction of new headquarters. Out of three options, the land purchased was selected after 85% of employees voted in favor of it. The Leed certified building is now the ideal showcase and test environment for our products, but also an award-winning space, for the comfort and collaborative environment it offers the personnel. A lounge, a gym, multiple collaboration rooms, trees and plants are just examples of elements included in the building making it an outstanding work environment. Distech Controls headquarters design is in perfect alignment with its Quality Promise to offer employees a safe and motivating workplace. To ensure employees satisfaction level towards their work environment is maintained, Management implemented various communication processes. Through the annual appraisal process or weekly employee satisfaction survey, Distech Controls Management team receives continuous feedback from the organization to measure the success of past initiatives and promptly react to new concerns.

In 2015, Distech Controls was purchased by Acuity Brands, a North American market leader and one of the world's leading providers of lighting solutions for both indoor and outdoor applications. Distech Controls’ building automation and energy management solutions combined with Acuity Brands’ broad, industry-leading solid-state lighting portfolio, innovative control technologies and integrated digital solutions will create the opportunity to offer solutions that can provide true end-to-end optimization of all aspects of the building for enhanced occupant experience, quality visual environment, seamless operation, energy efficiency, operational cost reductions, and increased digital functionality.

Acuity Brands has a strong Lean culture and continuous improvement system (Acuity Brands System) based on tools such as Kaizen, 5S, Kanban, Just-in-Time and Continuous Flow. Becoming part of this organization is the opportunity for Distech Controls to further improve its current Quality Management System. By combining both systems, Distech Controls will maintain its high level of client satisfaction and quality of products and services and also enable the organization to increase productivity with the integration of new Lean practices. In the past months, many Distech Controls employees have participated in Kaizen events at Acuity plants. Combined with various training sessions and workshops on Lean and Acuity Brands System, the implementation of new tools and methods is well under way and this new journey will certainly strenghten Distech Controls’ ability to deliver innovative products and solutions.