Before you become the big boss, you must have worked on the floor

Among the 40,000 companies that will have to change hands within two years to survive, some have already passed the torch, such as the manufacturer of patented panes Unicel Architectural.

“If you take your kids, you give them a big salary and you put them bosses, you are doing them a disservice because they will not have the respect of the employees. To gain the respect of others, you have to start by rolling up your sleeves and working at the factory, ”says Jean-François Couturier, boss of Unicel Architectural, a manufacturer of patented glass for hospitals on the South Shore. from Montreal.

Founded in 1964, the SME with nearly a hundred employees has its head office-plant in Longueuil and a second plant in Portneuf, near Quebec. Its flagship product is a patented sealed glass unit, which resembles a curtain wedged between two panes, which is the delight of the hospital environment.

“We sold this product in nearly 1,000 hospitals in the United States and around the world. In Quebec, we made the new pavilion for the Sainte-Justine or Saint-Jean-sur-le-Richelieu hospital, ”says his son Vincent Couturier, 30, director of operations, with pride.

Unicel Architectural has large customers in the United States, but also in Mexico, the United Arab Emirates, Finland and Asia.

“We also do architectural aluminum and wood structures. At Sacré-Cœur Hospital, the project includes both our aluminum structures and our specialized glazing products, ”said Jean-François Couturier’s son-in-law, Samuel Doyon-Bissonnette, 30, who develops the products. .


When we ask Jean-François Couturier how he succeeded in passing the torch, he replies that his son and his stepson went through College Brébeuf, McGill University and the École d’Entrepreneurship de Beauce.

“The secret is that they had to start from the ground up and learn the basics of the trade,” insists the 61-year-old man, who was supported by Desjardins Capital in the transaction.

“When you get a majority shareholding, it is not to start operating the business and take the place of the teams, who are already doing their job very well, you have to be there to support”, analyzes Yves Calloc’h , Chief Operating Officer of Desjardins Capital.

“It’s part of our DNA to do everything to keep these companies in Quebec,” continues the man who joined the Desjardins Capital team in 2006.

For Vincent Lecorne, CEO of the Center de transfert d’entreprise du Québec (CTEQ), which helps owner-managers of businesses find a buyer, the current health crisis is muddying the waters.

“Some will continue, others will delay the transfer, or accelerate it, but others will give up, and put the key on the door”, he worries.

According to him, better to prepare the blow. “The crisis gets into them. It has a huge impact on their decision. Either they take a step forward and maybe sell at a loss, or they take a step back and wait, but how long? Who knows when this crisis will end? He asks himself.

More than 35% of the companies that called on CTEQ recently had a turnover of more than $ 1 million.

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