First Desjardins Entrepreneur Award winners: Where are they now?

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Nathalie Slight | Journalist

Every year, the Desjardins Entrepreneur Award is given to companies that stand out for their achievement, financial performance and contribution to the community. Let’s take a look back at two previous award winners: Ateliers Léopold-Desrosiers and Habitation Boies.

Ateliers Léopold-Desrosiers: 2007 Desjardins Entrepreneur Award for financial and social performance

Ateliers Léopold-Desrosiers was founded in 1982 with a mission to create jobs for people living with disabilities. “Firewood and heating fuel, housekeeping, sewing, document shredding, industrial laundry… Because of the diversity of our work, we can employ and integrate people dealing with different limitations. The workplace, equipment, tasks and schedules are all adapted to meet the needs of disabled employees,” says manager Lucie Lapointe.

In 2007, Ateliers Léopold-Desrosiers won the Desjardins Entrepreneur Award for financial and social performance. “Our Desjardins account manager urged us to submit our nomination because of our unique commitment to the community. We were thrilled and very honoured to receive the recognition! Besides acknowledging our entrepreneurial spirit, the Desjardins Entrepreneur Award in a way established that a company with adapted workplaces and disabled employees is a company, period. The award raised our visibility in the region and piqued the curiosity of several disabled people living here. In under just ten years, we’ve doubled the number of employees from 85 in 2007 to 175 in 2016, making us the largest employer in Matane’s industrial park!

About 47 companies in Quebec are recognized as ‘adapted workplaces,’ meaning at least 60% of their workforce is disabled. In our company, that number is 90%! Our diversity is what makes us strong.

In 2007, annual sales hovered around $400,000. Today we’re nearing the million dollar mark. We are so proud to be working with people from our own region ─ very willing employees living with a few limitations,” she says enthusiastically.

Habitations Boies: 2004 Desjardins Entrepreneur Award in the Young Entrepreneur category

Habitations Boies is a residential renovations and construction business and housing developer. The family business goes back four generations. “My brothers Jean-Sébastien, Dominique and I grew up on construction sites. We started working in this field very early on. The passion for home-building is in our genes,” says Martin Boies, president of Habitations Boies, 2004 Desjardins Entrepreneur Award winner in the Young Entrepreneur category.

Boies tells us, “At the time, we were young construction entrepreneurs on the lookout for new technologies. Our nomination stood out because we were building new energy-efficient homes, with Novoclimat certification. That means they meet higher standards of comfort, insulation, sealing and ventilation.

The award felt like a huge pat on the back, an acknowledgement from the people at Desjardins that said, ‘Congratulations, keep up the good work.’” Martin Boies ends by adding, “Thirteen years later, energy efficiency and the environment are still at the heart of our concerns and we are just as passionate about building houses!”

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