The Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal

Key strategies for a successful business transfer!

On October 26, the Chamber held two activities to discuss key strategies for a successful business transfer. This is a decisive moment in the life of an entrepreneur. It ensures the business endures, but it needs to be planned well ahead of time, and the issues need to be understood for this important step to be successful.

Talent workshop: Succeeding in your transfer

The first activity was a workshop with three panelists discussing success strategies for business transfers: Alain Ménard, Senior Vice-President for Sobeys Québec, Isabèle Chevalier, Co-president for Bio-K+, and Michel Grondines, President and CEO of Félix Homme/Vincent d’Amérique. Participants arrived early to hear about these three entrepreneurs’ experience in family transfers, independent transfers and internal transfers.

There are four important things to remember during the transfer process:

  • Internal communication
  • Mobilizing and retaining employees
  • Knowledge transfer
  • Change management

These four areas are strategic and must be fully thought through to reflect the company, the sector of activity, the number of employees and so on. The conclusions of this workshop will be covered in a special report in Le Devoir at the beginning of December.

Discussion with Pierre Pomerleau

Pierre Pomerleau, President and CEO of Pomerleau Inc., was then asked to discuss his experience with business transfers.

Pomerleau Inc. is a family business that has Pierre Pomerleau and his brother, Francis Pomerleau, at the helm. Founded by Hervé Pomerleau in the 1960s, the company showed marked growth during the 1970s and 1980s.

The 1990s were a turning point in the company’s history. Despite a major recession, the succession had to be planned. Hervé Pomerleau’s sons, Pierre and Francis, took the reins during this difficult time.

Pierre Pomerleau explained that he had to learn in adversity. Fortunately, he was surrounded by the right people. This enabled him to ensure the company’s sustainability. Today, Pomerleau Inc. has extended its reach beyond Québec and has over 150 construction sites and a dozen offices in Canada.

A few points to remember from Pierre Pomerleau’s speech:

  • A company is first and foremost its employees, human capital that must be preserved. Communication and trust are essential in this process.
  • The organizational culture is key, which involves properly defining the business culture, values and mission. But bear in mind that that culture should evolve as the business is transformed.
  • Preparing for the succession also means getting children ready to take over, while keeping business and family separate.
  • Having the guidance of specialists is also essential, according to Pierre Pomerleau. It can be long, complex and at times emotionally difficult, but outside help is often a lifesaver.