Marc Soucy, Drifting Forward

Marc Soucy, Drifting Forward


This news article concerns InnovMetric, parent company of the PolyWorks subsidiaries.

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InnovMetric President Marc Soucy with PolyWorks|Inspector, the leading software for dimensional analysis and quality control.

InnovMetric President Marc Soucy says that he became an entrepreneur through years of learning (Jocelyn Riendeau/Le Soleil).

Some say they were born entrepreneurs. 
According to Mr. Soucy, however, he learned entrepreneurship one step at a time.

“Like any good CEGEP student,” he says jokingly, “I was a Marxist-Leninist at 18.” This is far from the typical profile of the businessman he eventually became after 30 years helming InnovMetric. In 1992, Mr. Soucy graduated from Laval University with a doctorate in electrical engineering, but very few prospects laid before him. “There were no jobs for me,” says Mr. Soucy, who felt destined for a life of science. “It meant exile. I had to go abroad.” He opted for Plan B after receiving sound advice from Esther Bouliane, his partner in both life and business. In 1994, they chose Quebec City, where they set up their 3D measurement software development firm.

Over the next 30 years, three employees grew into a team that currently includes more than 550 employees in 17 countries.

From Volkswagen to NASA and Bombardier, the top 100 manufacturers currently use their flagship product PolyWorks® to inspect the uniformity of their manufactured parts. While Mr. Soucy and Ms. Bouliane have certainly carved out a place for themselves in the metrology market, the experience was not without its difficulties.

In the early years, there were a lot of hours, much uncertainty, and low salaries,” said Mr. Soucy during an interview with Le Soleil Affaires. “We reinvested everything in the company.” The tide began to turn in Japan when, in 2001, the co-founders made contact with Toyota, which led to an initial batch of 150 licences. The company has been on a roll ever since. To date, more than 40,000 PolyWorks licences have been sold.

What is metrology?

Metrology is a set of methods and techniques that provide the most accurate measurements possible. 3D metrology is used to control the dimensions of any metal or plastic object, from computers to mobile phones and automobiles.

Storing CMM measurements in a database for quick access and data mining with PolyWorks|DataLoop.

InnovMetric’s digital transformation solution is the only one of its kind on the market (Jocelyn Riendeau/Le Soleil).

More Scientist than Businessman

Going his own way as CEO of InnovMetric, Mr. Soucy has learned to juggle growth without any reference points. “In 2002, there were 20 of us, with sales of $4 million,” says Mr. Soucy. “It was a big deal.” That said, he was not about to hang up his lab coat. His mind, fashioned through education, helped him stay ahead of the game.

You learn to see the world in a certain light,” says Mr. Soucy. “You learn to observe, and to analyze your observations before drawing conclusions.” This rigor helped Mr. Soucy learn to wear many hats. As a former software developer, one who also worked in tech support and wrote advertising brochures, he remembers it like it was yesterday.

“In the end, it gave me freedom,” he says. “It kept me sharp, it kept my brain working.”

The company director says that he is now ready to take on new challenges, one at a time. “The world needs generalists more than ever,” he says. “Everything has become too complex. As generalists, we are not afraid to dive into complexity.

The Importance of Proximity

To ensure its place among competitors, InnovMetric relied on proximity from the outset. The multinational currently runs 16 subsidiaries and joint ventures in North and South America, as well as in Europe and Asia, providing a base in every corner of the globe. “Each time,” he says, “we use an approach that we developed to quickly obtain technical resources and support our customers.” This proximity should not be overlooked. “In Japan, the customer is not king; he is God,” says Mr. Soucy, who tries to apply this principle to the letter. “It’s one notch above. That means you have to do everything you can to deliver the goods.

His subsidiaries and joint ventures also prove to be essential when competing internationally. “If you want to sell abroad, you have to set up abroad,” he says. “Otherwise, you’re a tourist. You have to become local.” This pied-à-terre helps one keep an eye on competitors while fine-tuning one’s knowledge regarding the specific difficulties of each market.

According to Mr. Soucy, the Quebec City head office represents a key research and development centre for PolyWorks’ solutions.

Despite the company’s international roots, Mr. Soucy has no plans to move InnovMetric’s head office from the Capitale-Nationale (Jocelyn Riendeau/Le Soleil).

Holding Firm in Quebec City


Despite the company’s international roots, Mr. Soucy has no plans to move InnovMetric’s head office from the Capitale-Nationale. “I’m 58 years old,” he says. “My goal is to keep my company’s head office in my city.

Quebec City is also a major research centre for InnovMetric, along with Mexico, where a second development centre was set up following an acquisition in 2018. By putting research and development at the heart of its activities, InnovMetric hopes to maintain its leadership in metrology.


“Today, the strength of our product is based on our thinking three years ago. 
Long-term vision is a must.”

- Marc Soucy - 

His new PolyWorks|DataLoop™ tool, however, is having difficulty finding buyers. As a digital transformation solution, it brings together information generated by various measuring devices and helps them communicate. Currently, InnovMetric is the only company that offers a product of this kind. “These are difficult and complex sales because you have to involve the IT teams,” says Mr. Soucy, who considers the automotive industry “very conservative,” despite its progress. “Things don’t move fast. It’s a big challenge.

We asked the emerging businessman three questions.

Q: Now that InnovMetric is celebrating its 30th anniversary, what are your hopes for the next decade?

A: Some people have dreams and want to achieve them. I call that “the destination.” They dream about the destination. I’m more of a traveller. The pleasure has been in building the team, finding the products, and discovering the markets. It’s a journey. And we want the journey to be enjoyable, not just for me, but for everyone around me.

Q: In 2018, you raised a red flag regarding labour shortages in your field. Has the situation improved?

A: We did not need five developers five years ago. We needed 50. We hired some here, and we continue to hire them.

Things are going well now. There were very few immigrants 10 years ago. Without immigration to Quebec City, it would have been a disaster. We have extraordinary employees who come from fifteen or so different countries. The situation has completely changed.

Q: The software development world is still male-dominated. How many women hold these positions at InnovMetric?

A: Not many, unfortunately. Maybe 10% of Quebec City’s software developers and application specialists are women. But it depends on the country. A great deal of women application specialists come from China. There are fewer here.

We’ve recruited a lot of women developers over the last two or three years. We’re delighted to have them on board. It changes the dynamic.

The Numbers

Thirty years since inception

550 employees

17 countries

40,000 licences sold