Knowing how to bounce back by selling your business

“You are an example of a perfect transition,” said the members of the Cirque du Soleil board of directors to Daniel Lamarre and Stéphane Lefebvre, CEO since December 2021.

This memory is very fresh in the memory of the man who spent more than two decades at the head of the Quebec flagship. Being able to choose his replacement was “a great luxury”.

A way to facilitate the transition too, admits the businessman, met by The sun at the Repreneurship Summit in .

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Daniel Lamarre, executive vice-president of Cirque du Soleil, on the occasion of the 7th Entrepreneurship Summit. (Chloé Pouliot/Le Soleil)

Although Mr. Lamarre indicated his intention to hand over the reins a few months before COVID-19 hit, he had no other option than to stay in office in order to get through this period of crisis.

“The only positive aspect of the pandemic is the relationship that Stéphane and I have created. This has made Cirque today much stronger than if I had left at the time,” underlines the man who now sits on the board of directors as executive vice-president.

Having spent 15 months “in the trenches” united them.

“We had only focus. It was to save the company. We were in the office seven days a week talking to bankers, accountants, lawyers,” he says.

Certain that new leadership was needed and that he could not breathe it in, he saw in Mr. Lebfevre the ideal person for the future. “Stéphane has a very different style from me, but he has the excitement of the new. It’s a motivation to leave him the reins of the Circus.”

While the incoming CEO took leadership faster than Mr. Lamarre believed, the latter was able to give him plenty of room, without a hitch.

“If I hadn’t let go, if I had wanted to continue to be involved in the daily activities of the company, it would have been unbearable,” he says.

In business, in family

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Élodie Brideau, general director of Cime Aventures, and founder Gilles Brideau, on the occasion of the 7th Entrepreneurship Summit. (Chloé Pouliot/Le Soleil)

Few believed it at first, but Gilles Brideau, founder of Cime Aventures, nevertheless launched into adventure tourism in Gaspésie in 1989.

One of the first to choose this niche in the peninsula and to introduce the Bonaventure , mentions his daughter, Élodie.

The pawns were placed for her to make the jump into the company full-time by becoming general manager in 2015. Her brother, Soliel, and sister, Kamille, joined her as well.

“Knowing that it was a choice and not an obligation was important to me,” says the businesswoman.

More than ten years passed before the founder transferred Cime Aventures to his children.

Pivotal years to prepare well.

Nevertheless, Gilles Brideau would not have handed over the reins of the company without knowing that he could count on them to ensure its sustainability. The question arises: do I have the capacity to take over?

“I know people in business. He has three daughters, but was unable to transfer the business. You have to have the taste, but there are still leadership skills that are necessary to take charge of the company.”

“The succession is not always automatic as soon as you have children.”

— Gilles Brideau, founder of Cime Aventures

Élodie Brideau admits to having been fortunate to have “a visionary father” who made her discover her qualities as a business leader. “You have to be comfortable with risk and uncertainty to be an entrepreneur.”

She is now putting her color into management in order to transform this “artisanally” established company so that it gains maturity.

Youth for a century-old company

>>>It was in 1988 that the current president of Charl-Pol, Richard Tremblay, took over the company with his cousin Marc Tremblay, before becoming the sole shareholder in 1996.>>>

It was in 1988 that the current president of Charl-Pol, Richard Tremblay, took over the company with his cousin Marc Tremblay, before becoming the sole shareholder in 1996. (Courtesy photo/Courtesy photo)

Charl-Pol celebrates its 103 years.

Three generations of Tremblays set up this company manufacturing mechanically welded parts from La Baie in Saguenay. The fourth, made up of Gabriel and Andréanne, now takes its place.

But not only that.

Three external shareholders – employees who had Charl-Pol tattooed on their hearts – were already added to the portrait in 2018.

“It takes a career to succeed in building a good team. They had skills in different areas. They were not in competition with each other,” says president Richard Tremblay, who plans to step down within more or less five years.

Despite everything, when you have given your whole life to a company, it is difficult to let it slip through your fingers. “It’s part of a mourning for me – but it’s a good mourning – because the company is progressing faster and in a better way.”

With six voices, the discussions are sometimes heated, he admits.

But, above all, they are necessary. “The buyers, it was very enriching. They brought me back to earth quite often,” he says.

For his part, Jean-Sébastien Michaud, director of human resources, was initially surprised by the takeover offer, but saw the added value it could bring.

“He didn’t have many human resources buyers. I was a victim of my own medicine. When we look at the challenges we have in businesses, it makes sense,” he says, listing technological change and labor scarcity.

Wishing to make his place in a family organization, he was reassured to know that there were no privileges. A formal interview awaited Gabriel Tremblay at the front door.

>>>Jean-Sébastien Michaud and Gabriel Tremblay (standing) with President Richard Tremblay of Charl-Pol, on the occasion of the 7th Entrepreneurship Summit.>>>

Jean-Sébastien Michaud and Gabriel Tremblay (standing) with President Richard Tremblay of Charl-Pol, on the occasion of the 7th Entrepreneurship Summit. (Chloé Pouliot/Le Soleil)

The one who wanted to free himself from the stereotype of the “boss’s son” worked hard to gain the trust of his partners. Now, he says, we can talk about success.

“There have been a few successions at Charl-Pol in four generations. Each time it was a success. The proof: we are still here. Richard brought added value. We had a steps more to the company too,” he rejoices.

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