Canadian Electrical Wholesaler

May 2 2016

Line Goyette

One Laplante brother, Paul, arrived in 1978 in the family business founded by their father in 1955; the other, Marc, in 1987. It is often said that opposites attract. The brothers speak of complementarity. Together they evolve in a changing market, the strengths of each allowing them to adapt to these changes relatively smoothly. Their approach has never really changed. It was inherited from their father: respect and integrity first. The brothers say their father was known as a gentleman before becoming a businessman. It seems that Paul’s son, the third generation coming to join Laplante & Associés, also shares this philosophy.

Paul arrived at the company at the end of his university studies, just as he was about begin a career in production management. His father was experiencing health problems and asked him to join the company, which operated at that time from home. As for Marc, a similar scenario presented itself almost 10 years later at the end of his university studies in biology (he wanted to become a veterinarian). Asked to lend a hand after the company had just lost an employee, he never left. “Our integration was easy. We already knew everybody, they were part of our lives since our childhood,” explain the two brothers. “In our field, family ties and business links intersect often.”

Following the evolving marketplace

These connections and this network that allowed them to grow have also, they say, allowed them to follow the current in an ever-changing industry. “In our father’s time, electrical distribution was related to the retail market. Everything having an electrical outlet was part of electrical distribution, which was then beginning to take shape in Quebec. Then, electrical distributors started focusing on products and electrical components, and away from appliances or other power tools intended for the retail market. Lighting products were then part of the electrical supply.”

In the 1960s, their father was closely associated with lighting products. “It was then an export and specialty market,” they explain. “In the 1960s, our father was an agent for the company H&L Ironcraft, better known under the name of Snoc Lighting. He sold luminaires. One could say that the majority of churches in Quebec were lit with their massive custom-made luminaires.

“This market has been revolutionized by the arrival of agents specializing in lighting products, and more recently LED lighting. Since the arrival of LEDs, many consolidations and mergers have taken place. Major manufacturers occupy the largest share of the market, but independent agents can also satisfy market needs, and this is what we do.”

The Laplante brothers define their business as a multi-market agency, and according to them this is their strength. They can thus follow trends and satisfy the needs of their construction and renovation clients. “Our market expertise is well recognized and our relationships date from the founding of the company. We work closely with entrepreneurs and try to project the market ahead of us.” To do this, Paul analyses industry trends and projections, and Marc sits on the boards of CEMRA, NEMRA and most recently on the council of Electro-Federation Canada’s Québec section. “For a business to sustain itself and grow, it must reinvent itself. This requires knowing the market, learning, and taking part in discussions. The electrical market cannot thrive forever, it is our complementary offerings and our expertise in related fields that allow us to continue adding value for our customers.”

In addition to technological change, have you seen other transformations on the market?

“It is certain that the Internet has changed how we do things. Customers are more informed, which is good. On the other hand, they want a much faster response. Before, we had 24 hours to respond to a request. This is no longer the case. Our personal and professional lives tend to overlap. Everyone must stay connected at all times.”

They also note that the Internet has changed the relationships between people. “Agencies are service providers, and the added value is in the service given. We are specialists in the products of the companies we represent. For us, direct contact is essential. We can give our customers custom solutions. Our customers are better informed, and want answers faster, but customer service doesn’t play out in front of a screen.”

Paul has been in the business for almost 30 years, and Marc for 20. Where will they be in 10 years?

There is no hesitation in their response. The company will always be there. Paul’s son Patrick recently joined the team and is very active with clients and networks of young professionals. Succession is assured, they say, but Paul says that he has no plans to retire. Marc thinks of stopping working some day, but adds emphatically that it seems unlikely in the immediate future. He finds separating his personal life from his professional easier than his brother does. Equal partners in the business, their two personalities have sometimes forced them to compromise, and they are happy to say that most of the time they made the right decisions. They’re proud of never having to let staff go for lack of work.

“In 10 years, the agencies will be probably more specialized, what we call ‘focus agencies.’ This goes a little against what we’re doing now, but regardless of where the market will go, we will go with it. It’s our philosophy and our strength.”

As a manufacturing agent, Laplante and Associates represents a full range of products used in the sectors electricity, mechanics and ventilation, as in residential, commercial and industrial and also at the level of the original equipment suppliers.


Line Goyette is Managing Editor of CEW; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

More Peers & Profiles from Line Goyette in CEW:

Among the Dunnigans of Techspan Industries: a Sense of Adventure from One Generation to Another

David Beron — A Resolutely Scientific Spirit in a World that May Not Be Moving Fast Enough

Running Man: Stelpro’s Yves Chabot

Cara Backman— Open to Everything, Even Life’s Surprises

Nathalie Pilon: A Woman Who Knows Her Own Mind

David Nathaniel: A Talent for Being There at the Right Time

From One Generation to the Other, New Ideas Help the Company Grow

Daniel Peloquin: Just Do It, But Fail Fast

Lina Rishmawi — A New Canadian Who Loves Challenges

Juan Macias — A Commitment to Sustainability and a Call for Innovation

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