• Veralex: A supplier, or an innovator? Open or Close

    Our story begins in Princeville, Quebec at the offices of Veralex, a glass and windshield manufacturer for the recreational boating industry. Behind his plate glass window, Simon Dubé, factory manager, dreamed of seeing his clients – the boat manufacturers of the world – line up at his door. Business was quite good, but more often than not, his clients appeared to be more interested in watching him wage a price war with his competitors than in becoming his partners in innovation. Simon saw the future of his company differently. He envisioned creating products so innovative that his clientele would be unable to get by without Veralex.

    Incremental improvement would be difficult. His competitors had patented practically every method of assembly imaginable, thus making small innovations more challenging. Simon had to create a new niche. He had many ideas, but lacked the technical and creative resources to put his plans into action.

    50x50- Advanta Icon 512x512-04 Veralex needed a resource to help him with creative product development and got Advanta involved

    Transplanting and Adapting Innovation from One Industry to Another
    Several decades ago, the automobile industry had made the shift from framed windows towards models with no frame at all; what are known in the industry as "frameless" windows. In the circles in which Veralex traveled, manufacturers still continued to use framing techniques from a bygone era. Simon saw an opportunity to change all that. His vision was to develop a totally new, frameless boat windshield and present it to recreational boat manufacturers.

    Just Cubes BW No other supplier was offering such a product at the time.

    The system he envisioned would be new from the ground up: from the attachment to the deck of the boat, to the fasteners that held the glass panels; every system would be rethought. In theory, this seemed very simple; however, unlike an automobile, both sides of the system are visible. There were many challenges to overcome in making visually appealing structural elements and fasteners, all while allowing for flexibility in assembly.

    Creative Designers on Demand

    Every Advanta client is different. Simon knew that his skilled production team could help him with many parts of the product development regarding the glass. Where he would require additional expertise was in creating visual concepts, brainstorming and technical development for some of the other production technologies. Also, for busy times, he would need lots of bandwidth for detail design and CAD modeling. As the need for lots of bandwidth was only sporadic, there was no need to have an internal development team. He was, above all, looking for flexibility, immediate support when necessary, and a solid, experienced development team.

    Simon visited Advanta and decided that, for this challenging project, they possessed the chops needed to help him create an appealing visual design while ensuring that the technical details fit with his production needs. As Simon had many projects in mind, Advanta proposed an approach which offered the expertise and necessary bandwidth on call. When he had a pressing deadline and needed four designers, he would have them. When his priorities dictated a focus on production or sales, he could leave the design team idle until he needed more, a more cost-effective option than using in-house staff.

    Just Cubes BW As the need for lots of bandwidth was only sporadic, there was no requirement to have an internal development team.



    50x50- Advanta Icon 512x512-04 Package - Designers on Call
    Advanta proposed an approach which offered the expertise and necessary bandwidth on call.

    Simon got what he was looking for: a creative, technically experienced design team on demand. In exchange for a minimal investment, Simon obtained a discount and a commitment of support from Advanta. When Veralex needs to initiate a new project, or simply create an image for marketing, no time is spent writing proposals or setting up purchase orders. A simple email or phone call gets whatever resources Simon requires set up and ready to go. Whether the new request involves a few hours, a couple of days or several weeks, Advanta can work it into whatever Veralex has as their current priority.

    Innovative Products Bring New Clients.
    Advanta's first step was to engage with Veralex in brainstorming sessions for the generation of basic new design directions. The concepts from these sessions were developed aesthetically and technically to the point that a full-size prototype could be made. This first generation prototype was then presented as a new product to the most important manufacturers in the recreational boat business.

    The manufacturers were hungry for this new and innovative approach. Simon had been right; instead of competing on price, creating new products and new demand was a much better way to go. And therein lies the genius of his approach. For a parts manufacturer like Veralex, it might appear counter-intuitive to invest in new product development, given that the company is ultimately an original equipment manufacturer of parts that will end up on products branded by others. However, had Veralex not introduced this new line of frameless boat windshield products, they would have missed out on many new opportunities. Through its originality and innovative product design, the company's intuition about how to attract a new, more profitable client base was on the money. Up to that point, their customers viewed them as just one parts manufacturer to pit against another in a bid to get the lowest price.

    Just Cubes BW Simon had been right; instead of competing on price, creating new products and new demand was a much better way to go. And therein lies the genius of his approach.

    Advanta has deep and varied experience spanning a wide range of production technologies. This enabled us to support Veralex through all aspects of the project: from the initial visual design to the detailed technical designs for the entire windshield. Many production methods are involved in the complete assembly: accessories molded by plastic injection, sand-casting, extrusions among others. For Veralex, this broad range of expertise was one of the advantages of working with the largest group of industrial designers in Quebec City.

    Scarab and Larson Boats currently sport Veralex frameless windshields; the direct result of the collaboration between Veralex and Advanta Design. We are proud to have participated in the creation of these innovative new products. Many of our recent projects with Veralex are still under wraps, but stay tuned to a boat show near you to see more fruit of the bold product innovation steps taken by Simon Dubé and his team at Veralex.