Marc Boucher

BUILDING SUCCESS

Interview by Derrick Scott and Mathieu Manning
Images © Vesta’s Photography

ENTREPRENEURSHIP MAY NOT HAVE BEEN A FAMILY TRADITION, BUT IT FOUND MARC. “I WAS INTRODUCED TO THE WORLD OF BUSINESS IN 2001 AT THE ALFRED HOME HARDWARE, WHERE I BECAME A SHAREHOLDER, WITH THE ENCOURAGEMENT OF MY PARTNERS. THAT WAS THE BEGINNING OF MY JOURNEY INTO ENTREPRENEURSHIP.”

Inspiration

Marc eagerly shares those aspects of his job that most inspire him. “Helping people with their projects, seeing them progress, at times from start to finish, is what really makes me come alive, ” he explains. Marc gets tremendous satisfaction from counselling his customers with their projects, whether those involve building a deck, replacing windows, or installing moldings. He emphasizes the importance of this interaction: “I love when they come back all proud of what they’ve done and show me their photos.” When you see his passion for helping his customers, you can’t miss the full extent of his professional commitment.

Marc explains Home Hardware’s distinctive operational model and its crucial role within small communities. He outlines Home Hardware’s structure, explaining the three distinct types of stores, each catering to specific needs with a tailored offer of products and services. The uniqueness of Home Hardware, according to Marc, lies in its business model: “It’s a kind of cooperative owned by the owners, which is not publicly traded and is 100 percent Canadian,” he asserts, highlighting the company’s commitment to autonomy and the valorization of national heritage.

“Anyone can see how present they are in smaller communities,” he continues, highlighting the company’s strategic approach to serving those communities. “We have three large warehouses across Canada, which enables us to efficiently supply ourselves. The advantage with Home Hardware is that we can buy one item at a time, instead of being forced to buy an entire pallet. That’s a significant source of strength.”

This ability to operate flexibly and economically gives Home Hardware a huge competitive advantage, as Marc points out: “There are over 1,000 stores across Canada, which gives us a lot of purchasing power at the same time.” The size and scope of the company enable it to negotiate more advantageous prices, benefiting both the company and its customers.

Key Moments

Acknowledging the learning curve he had to overcome, Marc attributes his success to his early start in the industry: “My advantage was that I started working in the lumber yard at the age of 16, which enabled me to go through all the steps before becoming an owner.” This early immersion in every aspect of the business gave him a solid understanding of the operation, and the ability to efficiently manage a wide range of tasks, from the delivery of materials to day-to-day management.

“In Alfred, I had the opportunity to collaborate with Pierre-Paul and Alain. They gave me the chance to become a partner in this adventure,” he recounts, emphasizing the importance of this assistance in his professional development. This journey eventually led him to become the sole owner, and even to go to the next step, of selling the business.

Transition

Following the sale, Marc underwent a transition in his professional life, marked by a quest for renewal and exploration beyond the traditional entrepreneurial realm. “During this period, just after selling, I tried to do something else. I explored other horizons,” he reveals, highlighting his desire for diversification. Driven by an innate curiosity and a willingness to reinvent himself, Marc ventured into the world of agriculture for three or four years, a field radically different from what he knew.

Asked about his competence in this new sector, Marc responds with a hint of humour tinged with pride: “Of course, I tell myself that I was good. I have always been in partnership with my accomplice, Manon. She has always supported me in all my projects.” He emphasizes the importance of this collaboration, especially in the agricultural field, where Manon played a significant role. Together, they ventured into turkey farming for a few years.

However, despite their enthusiasm and commitment, Marc admits that this adventure had its limits: “I really enjoyed this experience, except that at some point, we couldn’t live off of it.” This realization brought their agricultural journey to an end, marking Marc’s return to the area where he excels the most: hardware. His reflection on this period of his life reveals a willingness to experiment and learn, even in the face of unexpected challenges, illustrating his resilience and ability to adapt to new situations.

Back to Basics

“Two years after selling the Home Hardware in Alfred, the urge to return was just too strong. That’s when I decided to buy François Lalonde’s store in Bourget,” he concludes.

Marc then spent three years in the old building before deciding it was time to build something new. “I was in the old building for about three years. I saw the potential, and I believed a lot in Bourget.” His vision and determination to invest in Bourget’s potential perfectly illustrate his commitment and faith in the development of his community through entrepreneurship.

Local Integration

Marc enthusiastically shares his experience within the Bourget community, reflecting his satisfaction and happiness in daily interactions: “The people are super nice.” He also acknowledges the special relationships with some customers, which go beyond the usual commercial framework: “There are customers with whom you have more complicity, who are endearing.” Marc has an ease in forging friendships and trust. “I worked in Hawkesbury, in Alfred, in Bourget, and I made friends everywhere.”

Challenges

“Bourget is a good place for a business; I have very good customers.” “I manage to stand out for several reasons. Of course, the big box stores are there, and they hurt us a little. In Bourget, let’s face it, it was a bedroom community, there are a lot of people who work in town, so they often shop there too.”

Strategy

Marc shares his perspective on how his customer service-focused strategy distinguishes him from large companies in the industry. He notes: “I’m not open until 10 or 11 at night, like the big boxes are. They also have many more choices. However, in terms of prices, we are pretty similar. I’m not worried about that.” He emphasizes the importance of a personalized approach and proximity to customers, explaining that the advantage of being an owner lies in the ability to make immediate decisions, without the bureaucratic slowness of head offices: “If there’s a choice to be made, either me, my brother or my wife make a decision on the spot. We don’t need to go to management. Everything happens directly there, unlike having to send a request somewhere to headquarters and waiting months for approval.” This ability to respond quickly and locally to needs is crucial for Marc, enabling him to remain competitive against industry giants. Furthermore, he highlights the importance of adjusting inventory according to his community’s preferences, stating: “Your community consumes more of certain things, so, of course, you adapt your inventory to that level.” This is his way of reflecting his commitment to a business strategy based on listening and adapting, which are essential to his entrepreneurial success.

Success

When asked to reflect on his journey as a co-owner, especially on his successes, Marc turns to the construction of his new store: “My greatest achievement is the new construction, the new store. We went from a small 4,000 square foot store to a beautiful 10,000 square foot store on four acres.”

The project was not without challenges, especially as it was undertaken during a particularly complicated period: “It was a double challenge because we built during the pandemic. Why not, hey? Everything was complicated at that time.” Despite the obstacles, Marc maintained a positive and resolute tone, even in the face of additional stress, humorously illustrated by his remark about the physical changes induced by the project: “I didn’t have white hairs in my beard, now I do!” Faced with the question of whether he would undertake such a project again, his answer, without hesitation, is “Yes, yes… Certainly!” reflecting an indomitable spirit and unwavering determination, proving that despite the challenges encountered, his passion for his work and his commitment to his community remain unshakeable.

Previous slide
Next slide
Découvrez Clarence-Rockland

Abonnez-vous aujourd'hui

Découvrez les nouveautés de Clarence-Rockland et région

Discover Clarence-Rockland

Subscribe Today

Find out what’s new and exciting in Clarence-Rockland and surrounding areas