Gedex Story-February 2015

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By Rick Drennan
here’s something timid about the
Canadian psyche – especially
when it comes to business.
We were known the world over as producers of primary products like wood,
coal, oil, gold, and even beaver pelts. If it
was in, on, or running along the ground,
we’d find it, mine it, drill it or kill it, and
then send it unrefined to other countries
like England or the U.S. to manufacture it
into high-tech end products.
We were a low-tech nation. Stymied
by the polemics of production. Or too
damn lazy to even try. The productivity
gap between Canada and the developed world wasn’t just narrow, but a sixlane highway. We couldn’t manufacture
anything of value, and if we did (the Avro
Arrow) we didn’t have the stomach to get
it to market.
It’s early afternoon in mid-winter at a
nondescript industrial mall in mid-Mississauga (407 Matheson Blvd.).
It’s hard to imagine that inside a rather
drab brown-brick building a mind-boggling instrument – developed by some
very brainy employees with PhDs and
engineering degrees from some of the
finest schools on the planet – might
transform the business world forever,
putting Canada in the forefront as a
modern-day, high-tech innovator.
Yes, the high-definition airborne gravity gadiometer (HD-AGG™) is a resource
discovery tool that makes the earth’s
crust virtually transparent (you can see
as deep as 15 km), and brings into sharp
focus how impressive Gedex Inc. is, and
what its future prospects might be.
It has taken untold hours and over
$88 million to bring the HD-AGG system
to market. “It’s the most exciting thing
we have ever made,” said Mississauga
resident William Breukelman (Order of
Canada), the company founder.
That’s saying a mouthful since Breukleman is also responsible for the commercial success of IMAX techology,
as well as Sciex Corp., a revolutionary
health care provider that created highspeed and ultra-trace analytical instrumentation.
Gedex Inc. is the sum of its considerable parts, which includes Breukelman’s
son David, a former investment banker,
and a bevy of madly brilliant scientists.
But I’m here to interview its freshly
minted President, Chuck Allen. This
blond-haired Etobicoke resident comes
from a sports background. His dad was
a semi-pro ball player, and he loved to
play all sports, too, although his real
talent was in education, then business.
He’s now been charged with turning a
double play: reworking Gedex’s business model, and getting the HD-AGG
system to the commercial market.
Allen’s background has prepped him
perfectly for the job ahead.
The Alberta native understands Canadian business history and Gedex’s place
in it. He has some street cred, too: 20
years of successfully creating strategic,
fiscal and operational growth and leadership in the mineral, oil and gas, energy,
cleantech and technology sectors.
He is comfortable in both monetizing
Canadian mining properties and recognizing opportunities for creating growth.
In his career, he has originated/executed
over $1 billion in equity and debt financings and $5 billion in M&A transactions.
A graduate of the University of Calgary with a Bachelor in Education and
a LLB from the same school, he’s been
CEO or executive vice-president of five
public companies listed on Canadian,
U.S. and African Exchanges.
Cont. on page 2
Best Business Publication
SNA Suburban Newspapers of America
$2—february 2015
Charles (Chuck) Allen, the new president Gedex Inc.
Photo by Stephen Uhraney
Mississauga: 50 Burnhamthorpe Road West, Suite 900
Toronto West: 701 Evans Avenue, 8thFloor
February 2015 - BUSINESS TIMES
Talented team drives Gedex success
Cont. from page 1
He’s also a volunteer advisor with the MARS Discovery District in Toronto.
David Breukelman says he is the “ideal person” to
propel Gedex forward.
There’s no GPS system yet invented that can help
a company find its way. Many firms have failed in
the attempt. But Gedex is different. Good different. World changing different. “We
have the opportunity to be transformational in sub-surface imaging,” says Allen.
He helped rework Gedex’s
schemas, and in other ways, he’s
trying to accomplish a business
end-around: selling a made-inCanada technology that assists
companies and nations tap into
‘their’ primary product potential,
like oil, gas, water, diamonds and
every mineral known to man.
We can help those “who haven’t yet recognized
their wealth,” said Allen, speaking passionately from
his unpretentious office.
Great minds inventing innovative products has
intersected with the business world before – with
mixed results. The road to commercialization is a
long one, and often fraught with peril, and dwindling financing is often the reason. That hasn’t been
a problem at Gedex. “Our shareholders like what
they’re hearing,” said Allen.
What they’re hearing and seeing is an infusion of
energy, led by Allen, who’s not only bullish on the
product (which he calls, “beyond anyone’s imagination”) and eager to tap into the money-making op-
portunities available.
Unspooling the procedural spaghetti to get a
product to market needs guts and guile and clearheaded thinking, plus a total buy-in from those on
the inside and outside of a company.
The athletic Allen (he once got a try-out in the
Pittsburgh Pirates’ organization), seems perfectly
poised to play the lead role.
He once ran an oil and gas company in concert with the Cuban
government (Allen and his family
lived there for five years), and he
saw firsthand how political interference sometimes trumps logic and
business rationale.
That’s not the case here.
Ottawa has already provided
funding to the project through its
Federal Economic Development
Agency for southern Ontario.
And federal officials have visited the Mississauga
site to see up-close the wonders of this new imaging tool.
The testing period for the HD-AGG system is
almost over, and Allen has installed a “timeline for
commercialization.” He expects the first survey contracts in Q2, and will be actively pursuing more contracts in Q3 and Q4. Still, the long-term goal is to
get better year after year, sharpening the business
model, and improving the technology.
The talented GEDEX technology team, and the HD-AGG. Missing: Glen and Wayne Sincarsin.
“Business is like the shark,” Allen explains. “The
Photo by Stephen Uhraney
moment you stop moving, you die.”
What this means to the great big world is that the
That means investing additional capital into R&D, gas can be. Drilling a dry hole can cost a firm upnever-ending search for valuable underground rewards of $10 to $100 million.
and making Gedex a model for the world.
Gedex’s HD-AGG system can substantially re- sources including water, oil, gas and diamonds can
Allen knows how expensive prospecting for oil or
duces the risk of that happening. Still, he said, it’s now be done in a way that is faster, more cost effiimportant not to get overly excited. Business suc- cient, gives greater certainty about the location and
cess is often driven as much by timing as technolgi- nature of subsurface deposits, achieves improved
cal advancements. Already, we’ve seen how plung- accuracy and is more environmentally friendly.
Gedex might finally end the need to blow holes in
ing oil prices may delay bidding on some oil and gas
exploration. But in the end, Gedex’s techology is a the earth’s surface to find out what’s below. It could
game-changer, and its founders, scientists, finan- dramatically change how prospecting is conducted
cial backers, talented staff, and chief executive, are throughout the world, saving resource companies
(and countries) both time and millions.
ready for the next step.
The HD-AGG system is a precision instrument
“[The HD-AGG system] is the last cookie in the
cookie jar,” William Breukelman told the Business that’s installed into a low-flying airplane (such as a
DASH 8) and flown by a specially trained pilot. TakTimes last year.
Efficiently and precisely measuring differences in ing imaging to this level of sophistication is like noththis subtle gravitational pull in conditions replicating ing Allen – or the world – has ever seen.
Gedex is poised to propel Canadian business inthe cold temperature of outer space is what the HDAGG device does. It measures changes in gravita- terests forward by marketing a new techology that
tional pull accurately within the width of a nucleus might revolutionize how we find primary products,
of an atom, in a cryogenic environment, that does like coal, oil, gold, water.
What this made-in-Canada success story can’t
not vary more than one-millionth of a degree from
4 degrees Kelvin. It measures these changes in the help you find, are beaver pelts.
Which is okay, eh?
earth’s gravitational field in sub-parts per billion with
– with files from Joanne Lovering
a reading every 60 metres.
‘We can help
those who haven’t
yet recognized
their wealth.’