Sensoteq CEO, Idir Boudaoud, is interviewed by Belfast Telegraph’s Margaret Canning. We’ve summarised their conversation. The whole article is available to read online at belfasttelegraph.co.uk
Sensoteq is aiming for €100m turnover within five years at its business making ‘Fitbits for machines’.
After 18 years working at Schrader in Antrim, Idir and colleague Alan McCall left to set up on their own in 2016. They had expertise in engineering after working at Schrader in the manufacture of tyre pressure monitoring systems but wanted to develop their own sensor which could be used in other industries.
Now Sensoteq’s products are being sold to over 100 customers in 30 countries around the world in sectors like food and beverage, mining, automotive and pharmaceuticals.
“Our list of clients is impressive, with some of the largest household names in the world claiming it to be the best product they’ve ever seen. Yet here in Northern Ireland, we’ve kept a low profile.”
After working for Schrader in France, Idir was transferred to Northern Ireland at age 22 and immediately impressed with how differently Schrader in Antrim seemed to operate “I started as a student at Schrader, right at the bottom. And even as a student, it was much nicer being here than in France.
“I found that there were no boundaries between the bottom and the top.”
Idir reminisces about barbecues and nights out with the CEO when he was just a student, then engineer, then senior engineer and eventually leading the new product division. “There was always a feeling that everybody was on the same level.”
“That was the most important thing for me to carry forward into Sensoteq”.
At Sensoteq, we have our ambitions set high – “€100m turnover in the next five years.”
This calls for a huge recruitment drive, with plans to create 17 new jobs this year, and around 30 next year.
Idir mentions how a strong personal network has allowed us to attract great talent up to now, but we’re struggling to find software engineers with the demand for their skills growing rapidly.
“Our product is designed and manufactured in Northern Ireland. All the research, development and engineering is done here with our team.
He’s a strong believer in Northern Ireland’s manufacturing prowess. “There’s know-how here. People know how to make things here and how to make them well.
“We had a customer in the US who recently came to see us and visited the manufacturing line. What they really liked about it was that the whole supply chain was very close, all within an hour. And of course, at this point there are great supply chain issues and challenges globally, so having everything close reduces our risk.”
Sensoteq has a strong ethos of giving back, which fulfils Idir’s ambition “to see my company grow and give back to the people around me and the place I live”.