Talk about an early adopter.

Dematic has been helping industries innovate in the shipping-and-receiving business since 1819, when its founding company created the first steam-powered crane. 

Today, the global company and leader in supply-chain optimization is helping you, the consumer, get your online purchases faster and more efficiently. Dematic builds the machines that automate warehouses across the globe. When you click ‘buy’ online, Dematic machines pick and fill your order, and package it to be shipped to you.

Based in Atlanta, Ga., Dematic is in Waterloo Region by choice, not chance. And a year in, it’s safe to say the choice is paying off.

Its software-focused, research and development lab here opened in September 2014 with five employees. Today, the office has already expanded by 2,500 square feet and now employs 30.

Day to day, the team focuses on a variety of projects, including software analytics to help its large warehouse clients — like Canadian Tire, Amazon and Tim Hortons — track and fix inefficiencies.

Today, the bright and airy offices, in the Waterloo Innovation Park tucked behind Northfield Drive and Kumpf drives, are roomy and welcoming. A Dematic robot may greet you in the space.

What you won’t notice is the deep ties to the community that Dematic is building.

Many of the staff come from local tech companies, including BlackBerry, a talent move that Scott Wahl, Director, Global Software Projects, says is ideal.

“Most of us worked on different teams,” Wahl says. “It’s great hardware and software experience with a global company that is software-mission critical. It’s a large company that’s developing software for a large variety of needs.”

Through the past year, Dematic, led by Pete Devenyi, Vice-President, Global Software Development, has developed a strong working relationship with the University of Waterloo (UW).

It hires engineering co-op students to flesh out the team. It is also working with UW’s management engineering program on two research projects funded through a federal Collaborative Research and Development grant and an Ontario Centres of Excellence grant.

Hiring undergraduate, graduate and post-doc students allows the core Dematic team to focus on products.

Wahl says the relationship with UW isn’t about pure research. UW students contribute high-altitude, “blue-sky” work that feeds into Dematic’s product development cycle.

Dematic has strengthened its commitment to this region by announcing new scholarships at UW, each worth $2,500. The Dematic Scholarship for Excellence in Supply Chain Optimization will be awarded to one female and one male student in third and fourth year engineering.

“The high-tech environment here, the talent here, and the university ecosystem, make this a great place to find people . . . So this is a great place to open an office and build a team,” Wahl said.


Early November means a break in holidays. Thanksgiving, Oktoberfest and Halloween are over. The festive season has yet to begin. Now is the perfect time to rake leaves, put away patio furniture and get out in your community. I see and hear that . . . The first Startup Open House Waterloo Region is this Thursday, Nov. 5, 4-7 p.m. More than 20 startups will open their doors throughout Kitchener and Waterloo. Similar to Doors Open, the Startup Open House features tours, demos and games. The event is free and open to the public. Check out the website for more details, and to plan your route . . . Saturday, Nov. 7, is National Girls Learning Code day, and Ladies Learning Code is celebrating. Girls 8-13 and their parent or guardian are invited to attend a workshop to learn how to build an online web presence. The pay-what-you-can workshop is at the Communitech Hub, 151 Charles St. W., in Kitchener. Registration — and a laptop — is required to participate. The day runs 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and focuses on Mozilla Thimble, an easy-to-use, online web-making platform . . . If you want to take advantage of this glorious late-fall weather, why not head to the Fredrick Art Walk. The two-kilometre route begins at Fredrick and Chestnut streets and features local art for sale, including fabric art, pottery and stained glass. Walks run 10 a.m.-5 p.m and are free of charge.

Photo: A Dematic robot greets guests and offers cupcakes at a recent open house.