In the French-speaking Canadian province of Québec, one controls contractor has stood the test of time, proving their value to both the engineering community and energy-conscious customers. AUTOGÉNER serves this vast province with automation solutions and energy optimization and related engineering services.
Charles Thibaudeau is President of AUTOGÉNER. While architecture was the basis of his college studies and civil engineering his early career track, Charles became involved in facility mechanical systems more than 20 years ago as a refrigeration technician. His experience with KMC began in 1994 when he held an engineering role and, later, the controls manager position at an authorized representative of the former KMC Canada enterprise.
In 1999, however, Charles struck out on his own, forming AUTOGÉNER with his wife and business partner, Manon Legault. Today, Manon serves as corporate controller while Charles spends the majority of his time serving as a resource to the engineering community. In fact, AUTOGÉNER has garnered a superior reputation with engineers of Québec as a result of his efforts.
This is one of the secrets of success for the company. “Charles is highly regarded among design engineers,” says Louis Philippe Rose, Project Manager and Charles’ right-hand man at AUTOGÉNER. He continues: “This is so because he provides the engineers with everything they need for a successful project and is available to them as a consultant on energy optimization strategies.”
This is nothing new for Charles. He has built his controls-related career around the notion of working closely with consulting, specifying, and design engineers. They have come to rely on him for insights surrounding optimal equipment and system control—insights gained through years of practical experience.
Despite his penchant for working with engineers, the majority of AUTOGÉNER projects fall into the design-build category. In particular, health care projects and various projects for school boards keep AUTOGÉNER busy.
Of course, these owner-negotiated projects also incorporate the services of consulting engineers. So, for the engineer, as well as the mechanical contractor and end customer, AUTOGÉNER delivers what it calls a “database” package of information.
Louis explains: “Everything that the engineer and mechanical contractor need to know about what we did and everything that the customer needs to know in terms of system operation and maintenance can be found in this package: drawings, sequence of operations, control sequences, product specifications, all the tools they need and much more. It’s more than the typical ‘as-built’ package. We share everything including our intellectual property because we want the customer, the mechanical contractor, and the engineer to be successful.”
“Charles and I have collaborated for more than 10 years in various building projects. I classify the vast majority of these projects as highly successful. Charles and his firm are characterized by passion, dedication, integrity, and reliability.”
“Charles will personally make himself available for any work for which his company is responsible. We have completed many projects related to energy savings and our project goals are always met because of his involvement and follow-up.”
“As I tell my customers, ‘It is not the controls system that is responsible for saving energy. Rather, it is what we require the control system to do.’ That means that it has to be designed and programmed properly and this is the strength that Charles Thibaudeau and AUTOGÉNER bring to the project.”
(Germain Prescott, Le groupe G.P.A., Sante-Agathe-des-Monts, Québec)
The approach seems to work as is demonstrated by a loyal customer base and long-term business relationships.
One other significant factor related to the success of AUTOGÉNER is, in one word: QUALITY. So what does “quality” mean for a controls provider?
It certainly starts with consistent delivery of services. That means being well organized. After all, when you are serving a geographic area as large as 1000 square kilometers, being well coordinated is essential. It also means standardized engineering and electrical setup practices.
But quality for Charles Thibaudeau means so much more. It is, according to Bernard Viau, recently retired KMC Area Vice President, “his passionate quest for perfection.” He continues: “I have seen AUTOGÉNER refuse some plan and spec work because the project requirements would not enable them to do the job correctly. For Charles, keeping customers happy means that they never have a problem (at least related to what AUTOGÉNER does). It means he keeps his promises.”
Keeping their fingers on the pulse of the Québec marketplace is a constant challenge for Charles, Louis and the remainder of the AUTOGÉNER staff. Thirty to forty percent of all projects today demand energy savings measures. That leads to educating customers about payback, ROI, and the differences between the two. Geothermal and solar have increased in popularity. The last 10 years have also demanded more from building system controls. Internet connectivity is in more demand both in design-build and specified projects.
And, BACnet is huge. “In the last two years,” says Louis, “BACnet has come to represent about 90% of all specifications, with an additional 2-5% for LON-based controls, and perhaps another 5% for proprietary controls.”
With his talented staff, his vast experience (including 16 years of experience with KMC Controls), and his passionate service to the industry, Charles Thibaudeau has reached an enviable level of professional networking success that is sure to benefit his firm for many years to come. To him and his AUTOGÉNER staff, we bid: “Bonne Chance!”