Best Managed Companies 2021

Averna

This quality-assurance provider serves some of the world’s biggest companies

When we reach François Rainville over the phone on a Thursday morning, he’s enjoying a rare moment of quiet at the beginning of his work day. “We’re in the middle of a couple of large transactions right now, so I know that by 9 o’clock the Teams app will be buzzing on my PC,” he says.

Rainville is the president and CEO of Averna, a Montreal-based provider of quality-assurance and automated-test solutions. “From R&D to manufacturing, we’re present in every part of the product life cycle,” he says of the company, which serves clients in the automotive, medical-device and consumer-goods industries.

“If a car is working well, it’s because all of its subcomponents have been tested before going to market.” It’s Averna’s job to devise and then administer those tests every step of the way.

To know whether something is working, you need to know how it works in the first place, which is why Rainville describes Averna as “basically an engineering firm. We have over 300 engineers with different types of competencies and skill sets who team up to deliver those test solutions.” It’s highly technical work.

The company is 22 years old, but since Rainville joined eight years ago, it has grown in an effort to consolidate what he calls a “fragmented market.” In 2014 and 2016, Averna acquired three more companies — one in Europe and two in the United States — in order to meet the needs of their customers, which include Facebook, Ford and Johnson & Johnson. “If we truly want to be their international partner in testing, we need to be present on all continents and serve them wherever they are,” he says.

Averna is particularly known for hiring a top-tier, technologically savvy workforce. “Our value prop is that we bring a deep set of competencies to the table,” says Rainville. “Any company will feel comfortable coming to us and asking us to build the testing solutions for their products.” And it doesn’t matter what those products are or where they are in the world — Averna has a presence in seven countries.

When the pandemic ground travel to a halt, employees had to learn how to conduct international business from home. As well, many of Averna’s customers manufacture ventilators, among other medical devices, so they required the company’s support as they scaled tenfold. “Our delivery teams didn’t miss a beat,” says Rainville.

The result was a record year for the business, the credit for which Rainville gives entirely to his team. “I’m blessed with a team that works in synchronism,” he says, “trusting each other and tracking the same vision.”