The transaction was completed the way you tie your shoelaces: in a jiffy.
“A 12-minute call,” sums up the president of Chaussures Régence, Alexandre Bergeron.
Chaussures Régence, specializing in safety shoes, has just acquired its counterpart Paragone, founded in 1995 by Claude and Philippe Bernadet.
“I received a call from one of the two owners, says Alexandre Bergeron. They were ready to retire. They were in discussions to find a buyer, and their banker was kind enough to say that they should do business with Bergeron. »
Chaussures Régence, in Quebec, designs, develops and markets safety shoes under the Acton, STC, Wilkuro and Oshatoes brands.
Located in Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures, Paragone designs and distributes NAT’S boots and the Pilote & Fille women’s footwear and workwear brand, founded by former comedian Marie-Lise Pilote.
Referred by their common bankers, Claude and Philippe Bernadet made contact with Alexandre Bergeron during the summer of 2022.
“They called me on Friday at 3 p.m., relates this one. On Saturday morning, we met for an hour. »
Alexandre Bergeron thought he was leading a business negotiation. He quickly realized that he was having the equivalent of a job interview.
“I expected them to tell me about their business, to tell me what they wanted, and I realized that the interview was not that at all. It was a meeting to see if they wanted to sell to me. »
The Bernadets sought above all to ensure the survival of their business and preserve its 26 jobs.
Alexandre Bergeron passed the test.
“On Monday at ten minutes to twelve, they told me: ‘It’s nice, we’re going to sell to you.’ At 2 p.m., we called each other. At 2:12 p.m., it was over. ”
The rest was in the hands of the lawyers. The transaction was formalized on January 4.
Big shoes to put on
“The company was founded by my grandfather Henri in 1979,” says Alexandre Bergeron.
Henri Bergeron wanted to give it the name of his wife Adrienne, but a shoe store in Montreal already bore this sign. After multiple requests for registration, all refused, he fell back on the name Régence suggested by his wife, a fervent admirer of this style of very ornate furniture.
Shoemaking was already in decline in Canada. Henri Bergeron focused his business on leather winter boots, where the price and quantity of material commensurately reduced the high cost of manual labor.
Christian Bergeron stepped into his father’s shoes in the early 1990s. Ten years later, Régence employed some 400 workers and persisted in manufacturing.
“To my knowledge, we were the biggest shoe factory in Canada in terms of employees,” says his son Alexandre.
Unfortunately, the specialized seamstresses were retiring one by one, without the slightest relief showing up. In addition, North American suppliers of shoe parts were also outsourcing their production.
Going against the trend, Christian Bergeron has made acquisitions: Acton boots in 2004, Wilkuro safety overshoes in 2012, STC industrial work boots and Oshatoes overshoes in 2017.
“As the other factories went bankrupt, my father bought them, comments Alexandre Bergeron. That way he was able to get employees, customers, brands and equipment on the cheap. It kept the business alive for a long time. »
In 2015, after divesting from its brand of urban boots Blondo, Chaussures Régence, despite its aristocratic name, focused on safety boots.
The same year, it finally resigned itself to transferring its production to Asia, “not because the orders were no longer there, but because there were no more people”, underlines Alexandre.
He had worked in the company himself since 2000.
“My first responsibility was to put felt in the boots”, at the rate of 400 pairs a day, or 800 slippers (of felt) with that.
Alexandre was following in his father’s footsteps when he died suddenly at the age of 57, “September 21, 2019,” he says. Admitted to hospital with what was initially believed to be meningitis, he was diagnosed with generalized cancer after three weeks. “He died the next day. »
Alexander was 33 years old.
“I had to have several more years of preparation before taking over. It was faster and more sudden than expected, ”he slips soberly.
“I lost my boss and my father on the same day. Usually you can ask either one for advice, but both were gone. »
Fortunately, the team around him was strong and experienced.
“I arrived at the helm of a boat that wasn’t taking on water and that was doing well. All it took was to keep it going in the same direction. »
Alexandre Bergeron is now 37 years old and manages a company of about sixty employees.
The acquisition of Paragone enables Chaussures Régence to expand its product range, particularly for women.
“The first step will be to assimilate their business to ours so that everything is in the same computer system and in the same warehouse,” he describes.
“Then is to combine the work teams: their purchasing team with ours, their development team with ours. And afterwards, we will look at how we manage to grow the company thanks to that. »
Because he wants to move up a size.
Limitless electrical ambitions
A new terminal seems to have been crossed: Bornes Québec announces “a revolution in the way of recharging electric vehicles”. The Victoriaville company has entered into a partnership with the Finnish company Kempower for the use of its system of electric charging stations – satellites, they say. These devices are compact and can be set up in a small space, argues the company. With these smart satellites, only the required load is supplied to the connected vehicle, which keeps the energy in the power box to distribute it to the other loads in progress. “Finland has the same northern climate as us. However, it is much more advanced in sustainable development, ”said the general manager of Bornes Québec, Guy Lamarche, in a press release. “We were looking for reliable, innovative and flexible expertise to support our developments in Quebec. Thanks to this partnership, we are taking a new turn by offering sustainable electric mobility, adapted to the mass market and, above all, with all the current and future technological advantages. “A turn without skidding, we hope.
To galvanize the youth of Charlevoix
A project that will certainly galvanize the region: GALV-ECO announces that Charlevoix will host the first eco-responsible hot-dip galvanizing plant in Quebec in 2024. This $70 million project is led by businessman Charles Simard, president of Finishing Béton Charlevoix (FBC), a company specializing in the installation of guardrails. The complex will be erected on a site of 110,000 m2 in the industrial park of the aptly named municipality of Saint-Urbain. To meet its energy needs, GALV-ECO plans to combine hydroelectricity and a biomass heating system. The company intends to build “a factory that will become a model on an international scale, both in terms of its eco-responsible approach and the quality of jobs and the work environment”, indicated Charles Simard, president of GALV-ECO, by way of press release. The project should create around 100 jobs. “It will definitely be an important lever to boost the regional economy and reverse the trend of the rural exodus of young people to the big cities,” he added.
Express Mondor acquires Transport WJ Deans
One has followed the other: Express Mondor, specializing in the transport of heavy and oversized equipment, acquired at the end of 2022 WJ Deans Transport, which for its part transports metallurgical products heavy on specially adapted trailers. The new company boasts that it is now one of the largest open trailer freight groups in Canada. Express Mondor was founded in 1995 by brothers Billy, Dany and Éric Mondor. Under the Express Mondor, Transport L’Épiphanie and Établissements Dubois brands, the group has 130 trucks and 425 trailers. Founded in 1986 by Bill Deans, Transport WJ Deans owns a fleet of 40 trucks and 125 trailers, distributed between its head office in Delson and its terminal in Stoney Creek, Ontario. The acquisition of Transport WJ Deans, “which already serves many American states and major customers, allows us to increase our influence across North America”, indicated in a press release the President and Chief Executive Officer of Express Mondor. , Eric Mondor.
A large figure appeared at the end of the year: 70 million dollars devoted to the digital shift of Quebec SMEs. The Canadian Digital Adoption Program (PCAN) was officially launched in Quebec at the end of December by the Federation of Quebec Chambers of Commerce (FCCQ) and the Réseau des SADC et CAE. For four years, nearly 6,300 microgrants of up to $2,400 will be offered annually to eligible Quebec SMEs.