From Bomem to ABB: Quebec firm grows into optical sensor leader over 50 years

Bomem Inc. co-founders image
Henry Buijs and Garry Vail in 1973, when Bomem Inc. began providing solutions to meet the needs of customers in the global space industry. Photo Courtesy of ABB.

The Quebec factory of ABB Process Automation – Measurement and Analytics is celebrating half a century of advanced analytical solutions.

The corporate story began as a small local business called Bomem Inc., which grew over five decades. Through ABB’s acquisition, it evolved into one of the flagship companies of Quebec City’s high-tech sector and became the largest Canadian supplier of space-based optical sensors.

“The future is bright for ABB Measurement and Analytics Quebec factory,” announced Marc Corriveau, ABB head of global operations for the analytical business line. “Getting where we are today would not have been possible without multiple generations of talented employees. I am grateful for their extraordinary contribution,” he added.

Founded in 1973 by Dr. Henry Buijs, Garry Vail, and Jean-Noel Bérubé, Bomem Inc. initially focused on revolutionizing the field of spectroscopy to provide cutting-edge solutions for analyzing molecular compositions and structures.

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Buijs was one of the first physics engineers to develop the technology for measuring the precise state of the ozone layer. His contribution to the field of infrared spectroscopy and to the design of analytical techniques using this technology was at the core of the company’s creation.

ACE-FTS instrument – Scisat-1 satellite main payload. Photo Courtesy of ABB.

Bomem Inc. quickly made a name for itself by specializing in Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy, a powerful analytical technique with applications in various industries, including pharmaceuticals, oil and gas, environmental monitoring, chemicals, semiconductors, and more.

In 1999, Bomem Inc. reached a pivotal moment in its history when it was acquired by ABB, a multinational technology leader in electrification and automation.

Today, the company is a major player in the industrial analytical measurement field, with more than 400 employees at the company’s Quebec City site.

“Listening to the customer is key for innovation and is the basis of our foundation,” said Corriveau. “It makes our company ready to focus on the next chapter of our history and pursue the unprecedented growth delivered in the last decade.”

Bomem Inc. co-founders Dr. Henry Buijs, Garry Vail, and Jean-Noel Bérubé, celebrate 50 years as a flagship company in Quebec City’s high-tech industry. Photo Courtesy of ABB.

While maintaining its focus on spectroscopy, the company diversified its offerings to include a range of cutting-edge instruments and analyzers in various applications addressing several industries’ measurement needs. 

The biggest R&D group of ABB Measurement and Analytics is in the Quebec factory. The group consists of 150 engineers and scientists, each with their own expertise in various domains such as research and development, manufacturing engineering, sales support, and after-sales service.

The ABB Quebec factory has been providing solutions to meet the needs of customers in the global space industry since 1973, collaborating with major space agencies worldwide and offering services such as weather forecasting, climate analysis, earth observation, space exploration, and astronomy.

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