After a modest change to its business model of making automatically adjusting desks, Smartpods is reporting higher sales with particular success in selling to the federal government and the new market of call centres.
The Dieppe, NB-based company began several years with the goal of manufacturing desks that adjusted height and position automatically so workers would alternate between sitting and standing. In the past couple of years, it has introduced The Pulse, a device that attaches to any electric standing-sitting desk to automatically adjust it for the user.
The Pulse now accounts for about 70 percent of Smartpods’ sales. CEO Léon DesRoches said the company has been effective in selling The Pulse because it helps employers to get better value out of standard adjustable desks they have already invested in.
“We’re seeing the executives being frustrated because…they’ve bought electric sit-stand desks,” said DesRoches in an interview. “The issue is that after a few months, the novelty wears off and no one uses them. … This technology can be integrated with any electric sit-stand desk. Now they get a return on investment in the electric sit-stand desk.”
The result, said DesRoches, has been better health and productivity experienced by the workforce of Smartpods’ customers.
DesRoches buys into the notion that sitting is the new smoking, and in 2011 he set out to help battle this problem. He launched Smartpods with the goal of manufacturing desks that would move to different positions so the user wouldn’t sit five hours straight. Now with The Pulse, the company is helping clients who have already invested in adjustable office furniture to receive better results from that investment.
What’s more, Smartpods’ devices – which are 100 percent manufactured in New Brunswick – include sensors and collect data. They can show employers how the environment of their offices impacts workers’ performance, or how health and productivity improve as workers move more.
“We’ve come a long way,” said DesRoches. “We used to make a desk that moves up and down, which we still do. But we also capture a lot of things and analyze them.”
DesRoches declined to reveal sales figures but said they have been strong. The company has sold thousands of units to the federal government, and is finding a growing market in call centres. Smartpods is also one of the companies accepted into the Scale-Up Hub: Cambridge, in which half a dozen Atlantic Canadian companies spend a year in the Boston area to increase sales in New England.
The company now has 14 employees, and DesRoches expects staffing to rise to 18 to 20 employees this year. Smartpods has accomplished its recent growth without raising equity capital over the past few years, but DesRoches said it would consider raising money next year if it needs capital to fund expansion.
Meanwhile, the thing that gives DesRoches special satisfaction is the knowledge that people are enjoying better health because of his company’s product.
“We did a complete install in New Brunswick in a complete floor a while back and initially we saw a little bit of resistance from people because they said, ‘This is technology,’” DesRoches said. “When you walk back in there a few months later, people have started to buy into the transition of using this. People feel better and they don’t know why, and it’s because they’ve moving while they work.”