BRP, headquartered in Valcourt, Canada, is a world leader in the design and manufacturing of motorized recreational vehicles such as the iconic Ski-Doo.
We spoke to BRP’s Denys Lapointe, Executive Vice-President, Design & Innovation, about this design-driven company’s take on sustainability, diversity in the design process, and how to remain at the forefront of innovative technologies.
A passion for design
Passion is clearly a recurring theme at BRP, displayed throughout their corporatevideos and in all their communications. They would say it’s part of their DNA. “Passion is omnipresent. When people join us, they are extremely passionate about design and transportation, and they want to contribute to something bigger, which we feel they get an opportunity to do at BRP,” explains Denys.
Concretely, how does it manifest itself? Denys remembers interviewing some young graduates from Strate School of Design where one candidate asked: “Will it be possible for me to ride? Because if I can ride I’ll come for free.”
As the interview unfolded, I came to understand just how central the “riding” is to this group. In fact, the design team has its own fleet of vehicles, available to anyone at any time. They also send groups out on missions, where they travel around and ride with customers and distributors. There is a real sense that to design better you must know your product and know your customer. There are no shortcuts.
A diverse design team
If you think being able to go out and ride whenever you want sounds like fun, the way he describes the individuals in the team would make anyone want to join. At last count, nearly a quarter of the team comes from outside the country, including from Asia, Europe, the US and Mexico.
“The diversity may seem difficult to deal with at first, but it is quite the contrary,” says Denys. “The fact that people come from all sorts of companies with all kinds of backgrounds, all kinds of education, it just forces us to challenge our own internal paradigm, and be more open to cultural differences. They all bring in some new things that we haven’t thought about in terms of process and tools, so we’re continuously challenging ourselves.”
This diverse, talented group are also encouraged to work on personal projects and express their creativity in other ways. For example, a few of them have formed a band within the design team and they play at every Christmas party.
But as much as the team has fun, they take their work very seriously. “We have this relentless competitive spirit. We like to be on the podium, but we also like to climb to the top step.”
Design-driven, sustainable, innovative
In order to do that, BRP believes in the power of being a design-driven company. “The design team is equal forces with our engineering and marketing counterparts within the organization, forming a sort of triad, where consumers are at the centre of all the discussions and the decisions that we make,” says Denys. “Design can have an influence on the overall direction of the organization.”
Sustainability is another key objective for the design team and the company as a whole. From quieter, cleaner engines to concerns about fuel efficiency, and the safety aspect of their vehicles, sustainability is top of mind from the get-go.