Innovation and invention
Peng-Sang Cau, Com’94, Richard Zakrzewski, Sc’93, Ken Nicholson, Sc’92, and Martin Smith, Sc’94 run an international automation products company from Kingston.
Transformix Engineering, a Kingston-based automation products company, has come a long way since its establishment in 1995 by Peng-Sang Cau, Com’94, Richard Zakrzewski, Sc’93, Ken Nicholson, Sc’92, and Martin Smith, Sc’94. Now, 16 years later, the company employs more than 80 people – several of whom are Queen’s alumni – and has satellite offices in Brazil and Chicago. “We’d all left Kingston to go on to other things after graduation, but we were looking for a way to come back,” says Peng.
“We spoke to a representative from KEDCO (Kingston Economic Development Corporation) who made the city sound very attractive for our business – and for us it’s been a real boon being located here. Not only do our visiting international clients see us as this innovative organization, but also one that’s based in a great historical city.”
These days, Peng – Transformix’s President and CEO – spends about a quarter of her time abroad meeting with potential clients and existing clients. In the last 2 1/2 years, Transformix has doubled in size and revenue, and for Peng, a busy schedule is part and parcel of that expansion.
Ken, a mechanical engineer and Tranformix’s Director of Automation, notes that these days the bulk of the company’s work is international, and the number of industries and countries they are involved in continues to increase, with 90 percent of their new projects coming from referrals.
This strong reputation is one that Transformix established early on. The company’s initial successes came about because of the bold moves the partners were willing to make in order to take market share away from established companies – saying yes to projects that other companies shied away from.
“As the new kid on the block, innovation was the only edge we could offer,” Ken explains. “Many of the pivotal moments for the company have come about through the creation of systems that are technologically unique in the world and, in some cases, represent the birth of entirely new industries.”
For a company that has so many Queen’s alumni employees, it’s not surprising that Transformix has retained close ties with the University. Both engineering and commerce students regularly take plant tours. This year, the company began taking part in Queen’s Undergraduate Internship Program, where second- or third-year engineering undergraduates can apply for a 12-to-16-month internship, allowing them to gain invaluable experience in the real world of mechanical and electrical engineering.
“For engineers who are into designing and building something from nothing,” says Peng, “we’re the perfect world.”