Best Managed Companies

A.V. Gauge & Fixture: Canada’s Best Managed Companies 2017

Canada’s Best Managed Companies

A.V. Gauge & Fixture Inc. has established a name for itself by creating niche products its customers can’t find anywhere else. Based in Oldcastle, Ont., the company makes custom automotive gauges and fixtures, and employs 270 staff, with facilities across Canada, Mexico and the U.S.

Denis Levasseur co-founded the company in 1985, buying out his partner’s shares to become CEO in 2007. Under Levasseur, A.V.’s training program has become one of its greatest strengths. Because the products it makes are so unique (trade schools tend to train students for the mould and dye sector, which excludes gauge and fixture making), the company works to ensure its talent is properly trained. “We have a very strong apprenticeship program here,” says Antosh Pieniazek, A.V.’s controller. “We like to train our employees ourselves so we know they’re the best at what we do.” The company targets high school students in co-op programs and often buses in students to tour the facilities.

He cites the business’s “teach, show, do and review” mantra as something every employee is encouraged to follow. New designers are taught how to make the products and then are shadowed by senior staff as they complete tasks on their own. If problems arise, constructive feedback and additional training is provided. “We show them how to do it right and do it right every time,” Pieniazek says.

He’s also quick to point out A.V.’s focus on innovation. Take the “hinge drop,” which is a kind of metal mechanical pivot. “We used to buy it from a supplier, but then our guys looked at it and came up with a better one,” Pieniazek says. The impetus came from the company’s engineering manager, whose team said they wished they had a better product. He brought the idea of improving on the model to senior management, who agreed. The engineering department then got to work. “We patented it, and it’s so technically superior that we’re being asked to produce it for our clients,” adds Pieniazek

Ultimately, A.V.’s main focus is its investment on technology and people, Pieniazek explains. “Technology makes us more efficient, which is essential to compete in a global marketplace. Our most important asset is our people, whose dedication and hard work got us where we are today.”