VIS|EX was originally founded in 1991 as Hugh MacDiarmid & Associates and was then rebranded successively as Raptor Management Corporation, Killin Management Corporation and, now, VIS|EX Corporation. The company has operated both as a professional firm, offering consulting services to corporate clients, and as a seed capital investor in early stage technology firms.
Consulting clients have included Canadian Pacific Railway, Claridge Investments, Avenor, Charterways, Fenway Partners and, most recently, Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan. Early-stage company investments have included Metrophotonics Inc., Pointshot Wireless, Acuity Technology Corp., Holden Railway Equipment Corp., Terrestrial Energy Inc., EnerMotion, T-Base Communications and Eirsen Health Care.
While a VIS|EX-led team will bring a broad range of talents and experience, the executive and advisory experience of Hugh MacDiarmid is a critical ingredient in delivering the highest levels of professional advice and executional support. The highlights of his executive and professional experience, in reverse chronology:
- Chairman, Terrestrial Energy Inc.
- President & CEO of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited;
- President & CEO of Laidlaw Transit Inc., combining the school bus and contract transit businesses of Laidlaw International Inc.;
- EVP, Commercial of Canadian Pacific Railway;
- President & CEO of Lumonics Inc., a global manufacturer of lasers and laser-based systems for science and industry;
- Principal with McKinsey & Company; and,
- MBA from Stanford University, graduating as a Miller Scholar, and HBA from the Ivey School at Western.
An important component of the professional experience gained by Hugh MacDiarmid was his client work while with McKinsey & Company:
- Led a two-phased strategy and organization design project for a major Canadian freight railroad, culminating in a fundamental restructuring of the organization;
- Advised a leading Canadian telecommunications equipment manufacturer on key elements of a turnaround strategy and assisted in early execution of major elements of cost reduction, prioritization of R&D spending and rationalization of global manufacturing operations;
- Conducted two organization design reviews for a major United States office equipment manufacturer, initially focusing on integration of engineering, manufacturing and customer support for their main product line, then advising on potential approaches to integrating sales and marketing across all product divisions;
- Advised the Canadian operations of a global consumer products company on pathways to improve integration of operations across a wide array of operating entities; and,
- Advised on strategies for managing regulated and non-regulated businesses for a leading Canadian telecommunications holding company.
The following illustrations highlight the breadth of professional experience that has been accumulated over the past 20+ years while conducting assignments with VIS|EX or predecessor firms:
- Acted as project manager, serving a major Canadian freight railroad and leading Canadian passenger airline as the joint client, for a multi-year research study into the potential for high speed passenger rail service on the Quebec City to Windsor corridor; the project included innovative computer-based consumer research and application of leading edge data modeling to yield ridership projections based on traffic diversion co-efficients derived from the consumer research;
- Advised a leading Canadian private investment firm on a potential acquisition in the field of retail gasoline dispensing systems, evaluating an innovative technology to capture fumes and reduce environmental impact;
- Worked with senior management of a leading Canadian forest products company to install an upgraded strategic and business planning system;
- Advised a leading Canadian railroad on a new technology for transporting truck trailers by rail;
- Supported an internal team at the same railroad in developing a comprehensive recommendation to acquire a new generation of freight locomotives, ultimately beginning a major transformation of the high-power locomotive fleet for the Company;
- Advised a major Canadian school bus operator on a potential acquisition in the ambulance business, ultimately recommending that the project be aborted due to lack of a business case to support the price necessary to conclude the transaction;
- Supported a comprehensive business opportunity scanning process at the same school transportation client, leading to investigation of several high potential new business development possibilities;
- Evaluated the potential for a new GPS-based freight tracking and security system, building on the post-9/11 concerns surrounding container security and the demand from shippers for real-time shipment tracking;
- Co-invested in an Ottawa-based company that developed the first generation of mobile wi-fi systems for use on passenger trains;
- Co-founded and managed a Barbados-based company for the purpose of importing railcar components from the Peoples’ Republic of China into North America
- Undertook a comprehensive review of the North American short line railroad industry on behalf of a leading Canadian pension fund considering whether to invest in that industry;
- Supported the due diligence process for the same client’s bid for a controlling interest in one of the largest short line holding companies in the industry.
The combination of senior executive and professional advisory experience equips VIS|EX to undertake significant assignments with complex challenges, offering clients a unique blend of analytical and conceptual skills with pragmatic experience and judgment.