MONTREAL, Que. — The Lemieux brothers had been inseparable for decades. They were more than family. They were business partners at the helm of Transport Herve Lemieux.
And they were clearly different. Richard, an extrovert and the oldest of the two, was president. His younger brother Guy was more of a discreet administrator. But together they worked as a team to grow the business that their father, Herve, founded in 1947.
By 2012 they had acquired JR Richard, a Vercheres, Que. flatbed fleet, expanding beyond the South Shore of Montreal and into the Montreal-Toronto corridor. There was organic growth and more acquisitions, always part of the plans they drafted together.
Then Richard became ill, and passed away in July 2017.
Guy now serves as president, overseeing the 12th-largest for-hire fleet in Quebec. But he says the dedicated carrier that runs between Ontario and the northeastern U.S. remains true to the family values on which the business was established.
“What we keep of [Richard] is the closeness he had with employees and customers,” Lemieux explains, from a seat in a fleet boardroom now named after his elder brother. “Mutual respect between customers and employees, communication, are important values of the company.”
Their leadership styles and approaches are undeniably different, though. One of the biggest examples of that came in the way they viewed equipment. Where Richard treated trucks like a passion, Guy always took more of a pragmatic approach.
“He saw a truck. I saw an income,” the younger Lemieux says. “I reminded him every now and then that chrome bumpers are fine, but will customers pay more because we have chrome trucks everywhere?”
As different as they were, he says they complemented each other, particularly when it came to discussing business strategies. But his brother’s voice is now a memory. The fleet continues to move forward.
“Richard is no longer with us, but the road continues,” he says.
Guy was hardly shielded from any aspects of the business. He worked in the garage, drove for 10 years, and began his focus on administration by pricing trips and managing deadlines.
Work on a succession plan had actually begun before Richard’s illness, but the plan clearly had to be implemented more quickly than expected.
The latest version of that plan now includes family children, but it reaches beyond them as well.
Vice-president Jean-Francois Page is one of the keys to the fleet’s future, Lemieux says as an example. “He is my right arm, he is the link between me and the children.
“We work with the team in place in all areas of the business. We encourage their participation, and we give them the latitude and opportunity to implement their ideas and innovations. We are preparing the next few years.”
The focus on growth continues, too.
“We will take the time to look at the opportunities,” he says. “We will seize the opportunities that are good for us and allow us to grow.”
- Quotes in this article are translated from comments originally made in French.
Have your say
We won't publish or share your data