The Leclerc family is no longer the only captain at the head of the Quebec SME JL Leclerc. With Desjardins Capital as co-pilot, management now wishes to leave Quebec and conquer the Canadian market.
“In our business plan, we want to attack markets outside Quebec as much with our products as with our bodywork division,” Newspaper the CEO of the company, Jérôme Leclerc, betting on a pan-Canadian expansion and, afterwards, North America.
JL Leclerc is a Lotbinière company specializing in the design, manufacture and assembly of mechanically welded parts and products dedicated to the energy and transport industries. This is the second time that it has welcomed shareholders in its 32-year history.
Its customers include Prévost Car, Nova Bus, Hydro-Québec and Bell, to name a few. Desjardins Capital will act as a minority shareholder. The amount of the investment was not disclosed.
“We make, among other things, steel poles for Hydro-Quebec’s high-voltage lines. It requires a perfect weld which is inspected several times during the manufacturing process to be sure that the product will last for several years ”, gives the CEO as an example.
For the transport sector, JL Leclerc notably manufactures tank systems, structures or specific parts.
To support its pan-Canadian goals, management says it has several large-scale projects in analysis, particularly expansion and robotization.
It also does not rule out the possibility of opening new factories, and an acquisition could also be made.
Founded by Michel, Gilles and Jean Leclerc, the company of 140 employees and five factories is today managed by a second generation of Leclerc, Jérôme and his sister Julie, who, in turn, occupies the position of vice-president.
Like several other companies here, JL Leclerc had to slow down for two months in 2020 due to the impacts of the pandemic. The company has now managed to catch up with its delays.
“Our order book is full. Sales growth represents approximately 10% per year, ”said Mr. Leclerc, who is even looking for new employees to meet the strong demand.
In 2020, the company had to find a dozen foreign workers to fill positions as welders, machinists, mechanics and painters. It is on the side of Tunisia that the management has filled up with talent.
Since 2015, JL Leclerc also has a manufacturing division of utility bodies and specialized trailers. This branch of business, which required investments of 3 million in two years, now represents around 20% of the organization’s turnover.
“We make different vehicles for cities or for Hydro-Quebec. […] We do the trim and fit-out, for example, the part at the rear for the service body ”, underlined Mr. Leclerc.
On the side of Desjardins Capital, the head of operations, Marie-Hélène Nolet, says she believes “in the growth plan of this flagship of Chaudière-Appalaches”. She adds that this investment is for the “long term”.
In 2020, due to the pandemic, Desjardins Capital slowed down its investments in local businesses. “In 2021, we will be extremely active in the market,” promises Mme Nolet. As of June 30, his organization’s assets under management were $ 2.4 billion.
- 140 workers
- Founded in 1988 in Saint-Antoine-de-Tilly
- Operates five manufacturing plants located in Saint-Antoine-de-Tilly, Sainte-Croix and Laurier-Station