Allain Ouellette wins BDC's Young Entrepreneur Award for New Brunswick
BATHURST, NB, Oct. 20 /CNW Telbec/ - The dream of building a better life for his family led Allain Ouellette to change careers. Since acquiring what was a small custom glass business in 2004, the 34-year-old former salesman has transformed City Glass & Locks Ltd. into a shining example of entrepreneurial ingenuity. Expanding to serve the entire province of New Brunswick, the business has grown at an average of 20% a year. For his success, Allain has won BDC's Young Entrepreneur Award for New Brunswick and will be honoured tonight at a ceremony in Ottawa.
Before he bought the business with his wife Annick, a chartered accountant, Allain had no background in the industry. A successful salesman at one of the largest vehicle dealerships in the region, he felt there was little room to grow after six years and believed there was more he could do with his life. "I knew there was something out there for me; I had to think outside the box. When the opportunity knocked, I jumped."
When they acquired it, City Glass & Locks had seven full-time employees and a good reputation, serving a fairly small population in the Chaleur region. The company offered a variety of residential and automotive glass products, doing only limited commercial business. "I'm not from the industry, but I'm a quick learner and knew I would be surrounded by great employees." With the existing team, Allain expanded the operation to serve the entire province, growing the commercial side so that it now accounts for 60 to 70% of the business. "We had no choice but to grow. We had the knowledge and the know-how, so we divided up the teams and went to it."
City Glass & Locks became a recommended sub-contractor to many construction companies. "Our reputation has given us something of an extra advantage. Contractors come to us." To ensure there would be sufficient work to operate year round, they diversified their offerings to include everything from vehicle accessories to windshields, garage doors, mirrors and shower units. Today, with business thriving, the company has doubled the number of employees to 14 and has seven trucks on the road, compared with three in 2004. Allain says the toughest challenge has been finding and retaining sufficient new employees to keep pace with their growth. "I could double the business again next year, but we would have some staff who aren't ready. So I'd rather step back and re-evaluate, and continue to train them."
A significant presence in the community, Allain has been heavily involved in a major project to improve the grounds of one the biggest French schools in the area, which his three children-six-year-old triplets-attend. Working with a committee, Allain helped raise more than $100,000 for the project. Most of that was used to purchase new playground equipment locally, a substantial boost for the region's struggling economy.
"With the instincts of a true entrepreneur, Allain has skilfully taken an established business in new directions, achieving solid growth and serving as inspiring example throughout the region," says BDC President and CEO Jean-René Halde.
Earlier this year, Allain took home another prestigious honour, winning the 2009 Young Entrepreneur Award from the New Brunswick Community Business Development Corporations (CBDCs). But he is proudest of what his business has brought to the community. "I bought this to make a better living for my family and my employees. Today, I'm proud to contribute nearly half a million dollars in salaries to the local economy, in little Bathurst."
Recognition for young leaders
A major feature of Small Business Week, BDC's Young Entrepreneur Awards recognize the entrepreneurial spirit and the business and leadership accomplishments of Canadians between the ages of 19 and 35. Winners are selected by panels of business people from across the country who consider the originality of the business concept, success, growth potential and social involvement. They also take into account the entrepreneur's age when the business was started and any special challenges that were overcome.
2009 YEA and Small Business Week partners
Platinum partners of the 2009 Young Entrepreneur Awards and Small Business Week are Deloitte and Export Development Canada. Gold partners are Borden Ladner Gervais and Maclean's.
BDC is Canada's business development bank. From more than 100 offices across the country, BDC promotes entrepreneurship by providing highly tailored financing, venture capital and consulting services to entrepreneurs. Visit www.bdc.ca for more information.
Small Business Week is a registered trademark of BDC.
SOURCE Business Development Bank of Canada
For further information: For further information: or to arrange for an interview on October 20: BDC Media Room: 1-866-962-4554, (613) 562-3443; After October 20: Johanne Bissonnette, Media Relations Manager, (514) 283-7929, firstname.lastname@example.org