From entrepreneurs to incorporation to becoming publicly traded and now ISO certified, Hemisphere GPS has evolved into a major player in the design and manufacture of precision GPS products. With corporate headquarters in Calgary, Canada, this relatively young company also has product development, sales and marketing facilities in Arizona, Kansas, Texas, and Australia.
The company was born in 1990, when Canadian Systems Inc co-founders joined together to pursue their dream of manufacturing precision GPS instruments. Shortly afterwards the organisation changed its name to Communications System International Inc (CSI) and released its first product the MBX-1TM, a Differential GPS Circuit Board. The company quickly grew and expanded its line of GPS-based products, inevitably leading to CSI becoming a publicly traded company in 1997.
Once a public company, CSI began diversifying its portfolio out from marine navigation and GIS mapping markets towards a lucrative agricultural sector. This proved a landmark decision, as agriculture-based markets now combine to render more than 85% of the company's annual revenue. Rapid entrepreneurial growth continued into the new millennium, with the acquisition of Satloc® Inc, RHS Inc (Outback Guidance®), Del Norte® and, most recently, Beeline Technologies®. In 2007 CSI changed its name to Hemisphere GPS to better reflect focus and strength in precision commercial GPS technology.
In a mere decade Hemisphere GPS flourished from a USD5.6-million dollar company in 1998 to become a more than $72-million dollar organisation in 2008, virtually overnight taking its place as the world's largest after-market supplier of GPS guidance products for the agricultural industry. After nineteen years of business, four major acquisitions, five additional worldwide locations, 260 newly appointed staff and more than forty new patents awarded, Hemisphere GPS matured into the company we see today. According to Steven Koles, president and CEO of Hemisphere GPS, "We really evolved from an entre-preneurial-style business into a mature and focused organisation."
Today Hemisphere GPS has narrowed its efforts to the manufacture of GPS products for positioning, guidance and machine-control applications. The company's head office is in Calgary, Canada, with additional facilities in Arizona and Kansas, USA and Brisbane, Australia. These four locations work in partnership with a global network of more than five hundred distributors to supply Hemisphere GPS products virtually everywhere in the world.
Part of the maturation process was for the company to establish more efficient processes, procedures and documentation. This is evident in the company's recent certification to ISO 9001:2008. Koles: "We grew to the point that we needed a more formal stability platform to springboard the company to the next level." In 2008 Hemisphere GPS did just that, elevating its business to record sales margins.
Structurally Hemisphere GPS is divided into three main business units: air, agriculture, and precision. Powering the success of these units is the Hemisphere GPS Crescent® and EclipseTM technology. "These are really the engines that drive the majority of our products," says Dr Mohamed Abousalem, vice-president of marketing and business development. "Crescent® technology provides single-frequency GPS solutions for a wide variety of precision positioning and mapping applications. Whereas EclipseTM technology harnesses a dual-frequency signal that can provide centimetre accuracy and support numerous differential GPS solutions, including RTK, OmniSTAR and SBAS."
As for the types of products being developed, Hemisphere GPS takes pride in bringing to the market practical products. The marketing strategy allows for distributors to gauge their clients needs on a personal level. The distributors, in essence, act as a communication channel between Hemisphere GPS and end customers, so that customer feedback is then put into research and development, which in turn constantly adapts and creates new products that reflect the specific requirements of each application. Everything the company invents and builds has the customer in mind. It carefully considers usability, reliability and applicability to influence profitability for customers and company.
In order to further its goals of integrating application-based products and developing machine-control solutions, the company continues to invest in infrastructure. Hemisphere GPS recently upgraded its Calgary-based engineering and manufacturing labs and moved into new, larger facilities in Arizona and Kansas. In a global economic situation where many companies are cutting back, Koles believes it's time for Hemisphere GPS to lean forward in the market. "Now is not the time for us to take our foot off the gas-pedal. We have a lot of good things happening in front of us in terms of the sectors we compete in, as well as opportunities with current and new products. Now is a time for us to get a stronger foothold in a new market share."
Koles is optimistic about what the future market will bring: "Whether it's through expanding in current markets or trailblazing new sectors, there is a lot of opportunity for us."
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