Genoa Design International

Challenge: Workforce recruitment and retention
Solution: Innovative Recruitment

Genoa Design International

Genoa Design Founder Leonard Pecore graduated from the Marine Institute in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador with a certificate in shipbuilding design during the early 90s, at a time when shipbuilding in Canada had seen better days. While many classmates were leaving the province for other jurisdictions, Pecore launched Genoa with the intent to deliver quality shipbuilding design remotely so he could stay in the province and support his family.

“Genoa Design introduced the idea that shipbuilding designs could actually be delivered remotely, says Genoa CEO Gina Pecore. It was a first in what had always been a very traditional industry.”

Genoa provides production lofting, detail design and 3D modelling services to shipbuilding and offshore industries around the world. Essentially, it provides the information that a shipyard needs to construct a vessel. It takes engineering designs and converts them into working drawings and 3D models.

The company experienced steady growth until about 2012 when the shrinking economy led to a downturn in the industry globally. Genoa was quite literally on the verge of closing when the Government of Canada announced its new shipbuilding strategy. Because the company had persevered, it was in the perfect position to take advantage of a new era in shipbuilding in the country.

The company is partnered with the Vancouver shipyard that won the main contract for building new non-combat Canadian vessels over the next 20 years. However, as is often the case, with new-found opportunity came new challenges.

“Our biggest challenge was recruitment and retention,” explains Pecore. “We needed to grow the company quickly and we were competing with the oil and gas sector for qualified employees.”

Due to the Canadian industry being dormant for so many years, there weren’t any shipbuilders. But because Genoa had continued to work with the industry remotely in other parts of the world, it was well positioned to start a program that teaches people all the aspects required to be shipbuilders and, in turn, supply their needed workforce. Working with government partners, Genoa created the Genoa Academy.

“We’re able to take someone who comes with a drafting background from another industry and we can turn them into ship designers in about seven to eight weeks, says Pecore. We are delivering technical training and soft skills - how to communicate and listen better - things shipbuilders didn’t need to do before.”

Genoa has grown five times in size over the past four years. It currently employs over 90 designers and support staff, and anticipates continued growth throughout 2017.

Today, Genoa’s future is bright with many opportunities on the horizon. Pecore stresses that it’s through continued market assessment, innovative thinking and diversity, as well as with the help of government partners that Genoa continues to grow. 

Partnerships focused on building, growing and scaling a business are playing a key role in Genoa Design International’s continued success. With support from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), the government is investing $500,000 to help Genoa manage current and future growth opportunities. This investment will enable the company to conduct an internal operational review, in addition to develop and fine tune its internal training centre as well as its online learning management system.

Genoa Design International is a prime example of how innovation and resourcefulness fuel Atlantic Canada’s economy, at home and beyond.

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Genoa Design introduced the idea that shipbuilding designs could actually be delivered remotely.
Gina Pecore, CEO, Genoa Design
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