Cat litter that detects liver disease in your pet feline? It sounds like veterinarian sci-fi—except that Boucherville, Que.-based Groupe Intersand Canada actually makes it. In 2019, the company will be distributing its new “biomarker” products, which detect 40 potential diseases in the urine of cats and dogs, through vets in 90 countries. (The product comes in the form of a bed pad for dogs.) “If the litter or pad turns blue, owners know their animal has a problem and they can follow up with a vet visit,” explains president and CEO Stéphane Chevigny.
Groupe Intersand is reaping the benefits of the millions of dollars invested in research and development over the past decade, with an eye to opening new markets—the company’s sales have tripled in the past five years. “We are the only company of our size that has its own patents. We have a Ph.D. in biochemistry doing research for us, as well as a full-time veterinarian,” says Chevigny, who started the company in 1992 while studying marketing at university.
Mastering logistics has been key to the company’s steady growth. Groupe Intersand currently sells into 45 countries and ships some 7,000 containers out of the Port of Montreal annually. Reaching pet owners from Argentina to Saudi Arabia requires great skill; Groupe Intersand has invested millions of dollars in automation and planning software to coordinate its logistics with the planes, trains and trucks that deliver the goods. “Our raw material comes from argile clay mines we own in Wyoming, where the clay is more absorbent, then moves to our factory in Boucherville, then to cat owners across the world,” says Chevigny. “Our goal is to make sure that when our clients order from us, it’s as straightforward as ordering from a local supplier.” So important is the supply chain to Groupe Intersand that Chevigny joined Cargo M, an organization that promotes Montreal as an intermodal transport hub.
With the wind in its sails, Groupe Intersand is in the process of building a new, automated factory in Greenfield, Colo., to supply the U.S. market. “It’s closer to our U.S. clients and the source of our raw material,” says Chevigny. It helps improve the company’s environmental record—something he says clients in markets like Europe expect. Since 2001, Groupe Intersand’s home factory has been heated with solar energy. “Everything is recycled,” he adds. “We produce less waste than a traditional family home.”