AT THE HELM OF SUCCESS
Interview by Derrick Scott and Mathieu Manning
Images © Vesta’s Photography
When you meet Camille Charette, the energy that emanates from her is contagious. As the CEO of Rockland Wheels, she embodies the passion and determination that characterize exceptional entrepreneurs. Discover Camille’s journey and her vision for the future of her family business.
Camille has always been passionate about outdoor activities. From her childhood, she looked forward to riding on the family snowmobile, attaching a sled to the back, and embarking on adventures with her siblings. “It was so much fun,” she recalls. However, as she grew up, she discovered another passion, that for the world of business. “I knew I wanted to venture into the world of business. It’s what I’ve always loved. When we were kids, we used to play running our own stores, and I always played the role of the boss, managing all the money.”
Although entrepreneurship runs in her veins – her father, grandfather, and great-grandfather were all entrepreneurs – Camille admits that she wasn’t sure about her career path during her adolescence. “It’s funny because when I was in high school, one of the things that stressed me out the most was meeting with the guidance counselor. I had no idea which direction to take or what I wanted to do with my life.” Eventually, she took the leap and decided to pursue the path of entrepreneurship by enrolling in the Telfer program at the University of Ottawa. “I loved my experience at the University of Ottawa, in the Telfer program. I was fortunate that my father already had his business, so I could coordinate my academic schedule with my work, learn the theory at school, and the practice with my father.”
Taking the Helm
The purchase of Rockland Wheels in 2006 marked a turning point for the family business, diversifying its activities and stabilizing the company financially. Over the years, Camille took on increasing responsibilities within the family business. While initially handling simple tasks, she eventually took the helm of the company after her brother stepped back. Her brother, passionate about extreme sports, seemed to be the natural successor to the business: “He knows all the tools, parts, and machines like the back of his hand, he’s really talented. In addition to that, he’s very active and loves adrenaline.” Despite his initial investment in the family business, Camille’s brother decided to pursue his passion for extreme sports. This change marked the beginning of Camille’s entrepreneurial journey and her growth in the world of business.
Camille, her father, and her sister currently run the business on a daily basis and are working on a new store. “Preparations for our expansion began nearly five years ago, long before the COVID-19 pandemic,” Camille reveals. The new showroom could accommodate up to ten boats, a significant improvement over the old showroom where no boats could be displayed. “It’s a huge step forward for us.”
Camille acknowledges the male predominance in her industry, a reality she even encounters in her professional interactions. “It can be frustrating, but I don’t let it affect me, and I continue to work to change it.” At Rockland Wheels, she is proud that half of the staff is female and that the company is open to hiring female mechanics.
Vision for the Future
“We are currently going through a period of transition, with the upcoming opening of our new store… In five years, we will be well established. I hope my father will have the opportunity to retire by then, even though I love working with him.” She also envisions continued growth for the company: “We have been in the boating industry for two years now, with pontoons and boats, and we want to continue in that direction… We also consider the eventual acquisition of additional franchises. We are open to all expansion prospects. Our philosophy is to aim high and embrace these opportunities with open arms. We intend to propel Rockland Wheels to new heights. That’s our vision for the years to come.”
Love for the Community
For Camille, the human dimension and family values are paramount. She appreciates the solidarity of her team and the joy people feel when interacting with her business. “I’m really proud of that because that’s precisely the feeling I want to convey to all our customers, employees, in fact, everyone.” Camille has remained true to her roots by continuing to live and work in the Rockland area. She also cherishes the region for its balance between development and nature. According to her, Clarence-Rockland offers the best of both worlds: a warm community life and numerous advantages for off-road sports enthusiasts.
Camille Charette’s story is an inspiration for those who aspire to follow their passion and face challenges with confidence. Rockland Wheels is not just a business; it’s a determined family striving to succeed and grow, with Camille at the helm.