By Karin Gelschus
VALCOURT, Canada — For years BRP officials have said innovation is part of its DNA, and the company aimed to set itself apart from its competition through R&D. Now its new design and innovation center aims to further accomplish that goal.
The new 50,000-plus-square-foot building aims to feed the company’s urge to be a leader in the industry and further advance the originality of its products. Including the new building, the company has invested more than $40 million in R&D facilities in the past 26 months, including two in Canada and one in Austria.
Located next to the company’s headquarters, the new facility was unveiled to the media last month. The $15 million design and innovation center houses about 60 staff members to design BRP’s products, including Ski-Doo, Sea-Doo, the Can-Am Spyder and other vehicles.
To introduce the design and innovation facility, CEO José Boisjoli and Executive Vice President Denys Lapointe spoke of the company’s goals and expectations.
“This new center offers a fantastic creative environment,” Lapointe said in his speech prior to the opening. “It brings together skilled, committed and passionate people whose talent will be leveraged to work on multiple projects for current and new segments.”
The facility and designers
Before the new facility, BRP’s design and advanced concept teams were housed in three different locations, including Valcourt, Sherbrooke and in the United States. The company wanted to combine the concept teams into one place for greater productivity.
The team of about 60 consists of transportation designers, product designers, graphic designers, engineers, mechanics, CAD technicians, modelers, moulders, painters and management.
Being under one roof allows the designers, who focus on specific segments, to cross over and work on multiple products.
“Our engineers, designers and technicians must continue to invent new paradigm-shifting products so we maintain our leadership in this promising industry,” Lapointe stated in his speech. “This design center will give them the proper environment to do so.”
The facility was designed to generate maximum creativity. To ensure that, the BRP plant engineering team as well as the design team oversaw the project. Perhaps not surprisingly, there is a wall immediately to the right of the main entrance displaying different futuristic vehicles the designers created. One of which looks like a motorized unicycle with two exceptionally small wheels in front.
Once a year, the designers are asked to come up with something “futuristic,” a project that brought about the creation of the Spyder.
Like the project, the new facility aims to urge designers to create ideas outside current limitations.
“The look of a vehicle must communicate the experience one will live with it,” BRP’s Chairman Laurent Beaudoin said, and later added, “At first glance, one must know the product will perform. Yet, at the same time, it must tempt one’s emotional curiosity to ride it: That is what design does.”
To create original products, the two working design studios run north and south with large windows to the outside. The landscape and natural light aim to inspire, but the lack of direct light avoids glare on the graphic design tablets.
A majority of the studio is white, so the focus is on the products. In conference rooms and some offices, however, there are some bright colors for inspiration.
The building’s first floor is filled with shop areas where staff members build working prototypes, which are next to paint rooms. The second floor houses rooms to build clay models as well as the designers’ work areas, conference rooms and offices. Each segment can be divided by pull-out walls for times when visitors come. That way displays or presentations don’t disturb the designers.
Always looking to the future, BRP built the facilitylarge enough to house additional people if the company decides to expand.
In honor of Bombardier’s Chairman Laurent Beaudoin, the center was dedicated to recognize his role in the success of the company. CEO Boisjoli says Beaudoin’s dedication to innovation has been a considerable factor in BRP’s accomplishments.
“For more than 45 years, Laurent Beaudoin has been a firm believer that innovation is the only way to succeed,” he said in his speech. “We wanted to commemorate a man whose leadership, passion, innovative spirit and dedication have made our company a leader in the powersports industry.”
Lapointe stated, “Innovation is very much at the heart of our heritage and will continue to be the base upon which our future successes are built.”