Marc Cossette inc.

A month and a half off due to illness. That is what had required a young man named Marc Cossette to find his way. A way that will make him a savvy entrepreneur coupled with a major job creator in Centre Mauricie. At 24, he is very close to his cousin Roland. He started working with him as an apprentice instead of being worried at home. Roland has a furniture business on 114th street in South Shawinigan. As the television makes its appearance in 1953, Roland became a pioneer of cable television. He prefers to devote his efforts to furniture and cable so he sells all of the activities related to electricity to his cousin in 1954. The apprentice has passed all the tests with ease to become a master electrician. “When the TV appeared, people would come and watch television through the window. With the snow there was on the screen, it could not keep them warm!” smiled the electrician of 83 years on which the years have no control. At the time, South Shawinigan, known as dormitory town, saw a boom in residential construction. The seven employees, including three electricians and three apprentices in 1954 will be quickly overwhelmed by the task. Other employees are hired. After ten years in the basement of the family home, the company moved its operations in a vacant space next to Roland’s furniture store on the 114th street. Residential construction comes one day to slow down. Mr. Cossette then recruits a new customer: religious communities! It is the contractor Roland Gendron who offers this opportunity. In 1962, Mr. Cossette is the one who obtains the contract for the construction of the campus Notre-Dame-de-Foy, in Saint-Augustin-desDesmaures.

It is a private institution that teaches for secondary 5 students but it also offers a private college course. Five religious communities are the supervisors: the Brothers of Christian Instruction, the Brothers of the Christian Schools, the Marists, the Marianists and the Brothers of Sacré-Coeur. “As they had other buildings, we have awarded contracts for renovations elsewhere in the province. There are days where I left for Quebec in the morning and in the evening I returned from Montreal. During the 60’s, I sold five cars for 100 000 miles. No kilometers, miles!” At some point, Mr. Cossette has no less than 70 employees! This is while business is good of course. By cons, he has six children and nearly all have studied health in university. “I have always recognized the value of education and I have encouraged my children this way.” The biggest project in which the company took part under the leadership of Marc Cossette is the cegep of Shawinigan. A low bid coupled with a bankruptcy from the general contractor will make the process a loss of money. But it is nothing to alter the optimism of the master electrician whose skills are constantly sought. In 1971, the former mayor of Grand-Mère Jacques Marchand and a few partners will convince Mr. Cossette to invest in the kick-off of the manufacturing company Ro-Ma, a small business that is specialized in the manufacture of wheels and industrial casters. He is still the president. “Jacques Marchand was at that time plasterer. We often rubbed shoulders on construction sites. As partners, we also had Jacques Lacerte and Dr. Cossette.” Although Mr. Cossette sold his electrical company in 1982, he remained there working. He was the one responsible for the preparation of submissions. Today, he disposes of a well deserved retirement. If everything had to be rebuilt, he ensures that he would make the same life choices.

Despite the marked economic cycles that have occurred in the region, the major changes that have affected the field of electricity and three changes in ownership, Marc Cossette Electrical Inc. has reached the stage of 60 years of existence in a resplendent form. What is the secret of this eternal youth? First, it’s their unique ability to successfully identify new trends and especially to adapt quickly. Both under the direction of Marc Cossette (19541981), as in the direction of Jacques Dugré and Georges Cossette (1981-1990), in Jacques Dugré alone (19902000) and Dominique Cossette (2000-present), the company has always kept a high openness to new market requirements and a versatility that allowed the enterprise to develop expertise in different sectors: residential, commercial, industrial and institutional. “One of the strengths of Marc Cossette Electrical Inc. is that the company has always been very attentive to what the market dictated and it was capable to adapt itself to the circumstances of the moment. The enterprise never was stubborn in its niche – including its areas of excellence – when they became less in demand” confirms Jacques Dugré, which debuted in the company in 1964.

Much of the credit obviously goes to the three generations of managers of Marc Cossette Electrical Inc. who have consistently made the effort to question and review their practices.

But all of the employees are also to consider, those who have always accepted to review their skills to remain ahead in their activity field.

“And when we lack certain skills within the company, we do not hesitate to hire new employees knowing that those in place seek to integrate the new ones in the group to become fully functional quickly,” said Dominique Cossette.

Nephew of founder (Marc) and son of a former owner (Georges), Dominique Cossette continues today this family labor initiated more than halfcentury ago.

A part of the team of Marc Cossette Electrical Inc. at the construction of Grand-Mère’s hydroelectric dam, one of the largest contract in the history of the company.

The promising start of a new era The versatility of the company is also reflected in its ability to go in front of the work, that is to say to go outside the region to achieve certain contracts during periods of low occupancy. Moreover, the company, that has already made some contracts in most large urban center and in the large northern Quebec, has now acquired stability and credibility that would allow it to accelerate its efforts in this direction. “Such a strategy could perhaps allow us to eventually increase significantly our size. But until now, we have always managed to maintain a good pace growth in Mauricie. The trend does not seem to be changing. In fact, since 2000, we are living the most important boom of our existence. Thanks to the recent development of some expertise fields, to the dynamism of the region and to our new management team,” Explains Jacques Dugré. In short, it appears that far from being a finality, the 60th anniversary of Marc Cossette Electrical Inc. could mark the beginning of a new era even more dynamic and prosperous.

Fernand Potvin is far from being the only employee to take such a laudatory speech on his employer. In fact, in its field, Marc Cossette Electrical Inc is one of the most successful companies to retain staff. Even today, many of its elements have over 20 years old. “And what is equally interesting is that at a time when good electricians are rare, not only do we keep our staff for a long time, but we manage to recruit more easily than most of our competitors to gain the human resources necessary to continue our growth,» says Dominique Cossette. Moreover, among the employees who have been with Marc Cossette Electrical Inc. and left after some time, many have subsequently become successful entrepreneurs. Mr. Cossette takes great pride. “This clearly demonstrates that these former employees that have received their training at Marc Cossette have become both quality electricians and competent managers.”

Eleven years after his retirement, Florent Potvin preserves excellent memories of his career at Marc Cossette Electrical Inc.

This picture was taken in the beginning of 1990 while Fernand Potvin and a colleague were connecting some wires of 2 000 000 MCM at the hydroelectric complex in Rapide-Blanc, north of La Tuque.

Former emeritus electrician retired for now 11 years, Fernand Potvin was part of Marc Cossette’s staff for over 35 years. From his former employer, he keeps an impressive amount of happy memories, countless comic anecdotes but also a great deal of respect. “The leaders of Marc Cossette Electrical Inc really succeed in making their staff feel that they are essential to the business’s success. Concretely, this means competitive salary conditions, of course, but also the ability to continuously provide overtaking opportunities for each employee,” says Mr. Potvin. Indeed, Marc Cossette Electrical Inc. takes good care of the flame and of the passion of its staff. To do this, it tries to constantly offer stimulating challenges to overcome. “And if an employee has an obvious interest in a particular field of activity, the company tries, wherever possible, to make the employee feed his passion. For the employee, no doubt that this is a very good motivator,” continued Mr. Potvin.
This picture was taken in the beginning of 1990 while Fernand Potvin and a colleague were connecting some wires of 2 000 000 MCM at the hydroelectric complex in Rapide-Blanc, north of La Tuque. In addition, Marc Cossette Electrical Inc. strongly encourages its staff to maintain their skills up to date. In this sense, the company not only supports the employees that are willing to follow different courses, but Marc Cossette regularly organizes information sessions with the manufacturers of the products that it distributes. “Marc Cossette Electrical Inc. also encourages more experienced electricians to accompany younger electricians in their learning. In addition to helping the youngest to gain confidence quickly, this form of mentoring certainly helps to create a very strong team in the company.”