Touring Portes et Fenetres President: special report
One of the special advantages of getting involved in Fenestration Canada as well as WinDoor is the unique ability to get acquainted and establish special friendships across the country with peers. Yvon Houle, founder and president of Montreal-based Portes et Fenetres President, has been in the industry for some 25 years and has also been quite active in various industry associations, especially Fenestration Canada. Yvon and his wife have travelled Canada literally from coast to coast to events such as the FenCan AGM, following it as it moved from St Johns, N.L., to Winnipeg to Vancouver and to Mont Tremblant, Que.
The recognition of Yvon with the C.P. Loewen award should speak volumes to his commitment to the window and door manufacturing industry. However, a true sense of that commitment is experienced by taking a tour of his truly self-built window factory in Montreal. While Yvon has ins some ways reduced his day-to-day involvement in the business, I was truly impressed by his visible excitement as we walked through their facility the day after WinDoor Montreal. And, for those of us who are not so mechanically inclined, it is amazing to see and listen to Yvon talk about how he spent hours bringing a special piece of equipment into operation or how he literally built a unique drilling device complete with complex electronic control system.
Participation in and attendance at industry events has created the opportunity to quite easily visit suppliers or other window and door manufacturers from various parts of Canada and we’ve take extra advantage of it. The examples of such previous industry visits include the pultruder Inline Fiberglass in Toronto, the entry door fabricator/distributor Trimline and the window manufacturer Westeck Windows and Doors in lower mainland B.C., as well as Adfast Industries and JRC/Groupe Eugenie in Montreal. It becomes patently clear in my eyes that there is so much to be gained in additional insights as one truly engages in Fenestration Canada as well as the regional associations.
Yvon paid special attention to my travel arrangements as I could take the metro to Longeuil station where his daughter, Marie-Pier Houle, the administration services manager, picked me up and drove me to their factory, which includes offices and a showroom. We proceeded promptly into the factory and it should not have surprised me that the excitement and passion for various elements of the industry were prominent throughout. It is perhaps not obvious to all but the so called medium-size fabricators don’t always have the resources to acquire the latest equipment and technology. So it makes sense that Yvon’s first focus is a cutting system which Portes et Fenetres could acquire for an affordable price – albeit needing some hands-on attention to bring it to life. Yvon poured hours of his personal time into that project but it now has become the heart of his factory.
I must say I was amazed at the same kind of connection that popped up repeatedly as we went through every stage of the manufacturing process, from a self-made custom drilling device to the machine shop to the four-point welding system to the lineal wrapping equipment to the vertical glazing stations. In all those cases, Yvon had very personal stories of dedication to making them come to life for their very own special purposes. It sure didn’t sound like somebody that was cutting back and a confession to that effect came out eventually. “I get up very early and put in almost a full day no matter where I may be,” Houle admitted. And that continues to speak to the point that there’s a lot more to business success than luck.
The excitement continued beyond the factory and into discussions about family involvement as well as the sales and marketing team. Yvon seems to be lucky to have been able to incorporate Marie-Pier as administrative services manager and step-son Marc-André Villemure as operations manager. It became quite clear in conversation with both Marie and Marc that Yvon had given them an excellent chance to grow into the business (and both found the time to walk WinDoor as a second generation engaged in this special Canadian event). I was also introduced with some fanfare to Robert Desroches, vice-president of sales, as Robert was on track for both an excellent month and year. Yvon quite proudly talked about their sizeable marketing and sales team. Their activities became apparent while researching this article at portesetfenetrespresident.com. Almost instantly, up popped a live message inquiring about my visit to the website and it turned out to be none other than Marie herself. Like father like daughter? The company has recently negotiated a sizeable expansion in the production area so the future looks bright on the production side to keep up with that dynamic sales team, even if Yvon pretends to step away and hand the keys to the family. It was an inspirational visit to Portes et Fenetres President!
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