Marie 4 Poches Bakery and Pastry Shop is the work of two young restaurant professionals who have joined their talents and gathered a team of people passionate about baked goods to bring you moments of delicious indulgence at the foot of the Chic Chocs, between the sea and the mountains here in Haute-Gaspésie. That’s how this Sainte-Anne-des-Monts business describes itself on its website. Who are these two young professionals? Marie-Andrée St-Pierre, the pastry chef, and Marie-Ève St-Laurent, who handles management, coordination and customer service.
The Marie 4 Poches story begins on a volleyball court. Two mothers were talking together about starting a business. One told the other about assistance she could get with human resources management. The SADC was there to discuss every decision and project. When the heat in the bakery was untenable, the SADC connected them with a ventilation and heat recovery specialist. A new website let them add online sales and manage orders and inventory. Plus, Marie 4 Poches offers deliveries through Servab, a small business also supported by the SADC, which distributes their products throughout Gaspésie every day. In fact, the bakery has used every method and program available to them.
Sonia Millette describes the two young women as model entrepreneurs, creative and determined, with great attention to detail.
"Everything is up to date. They follow advice, implement recommendations, stick to their plans without letting opportunities slip past and plan for the future. It's a pleasure to work with them."
And the results? From their beginnings on a small rural road, they’re now well established in downtown Sainte-Anne des Monts. The business has grown from 2 employees to 20. Their revenue is increasing, and so is demand, so they’re discussing an expansion project—all, of course, without compromising on top quality products.
Their story is a great illustration of two aspects of the success of SADCs and CAEs. First, proximity and local knowledge helps them identify entrepreneurs and understand their needs. Second, the direct relationships and human contact between an SADC and its clients means personalized follow up and a swift response to any need for advice, programs or funding.
If you’re passing through, make a stop to meet the Maries and taste their products. You might have to stand in line, but it’s worth the wait.
Pavillon de la Faune, located on the shores of Lac Aylmer in Stratford (Estrie), has been a popular tourist destination since 1994. Founder Jean-Luc Couture exhibited fifty-odd species of taxidermied animals. In late 2019 and early 2020, François Côté, an entrepreneur from the region, and contractor Éric Longpré purchased the business with big dreams in mind, exhibits with visual effects, holograms and more. Outside, they planned to build boutiques and they thought, why not restart lake cruises! The planned renovations would total between $3 to 4 million.
In March 2020, the pandemic struck, and the site was closed due to the lockdown. The business owners turned to SADC de la région de Mégantic for help in the hopes of applying for an RRRF loan. The new clients spoke with SADC professionals, who helped them quickly identify areas for improvement in their customer communications.
Their old, outdated website needed to be redone to boost the attraction’s profile, manage attendance and comply with health measures. In addition, the SADC offered them the opportunity to join a web marketing and social media training cohort for the tourism sector, led by Frédéric Gonzalo. The owners found both suggestions very useful. Soon, it became clear that they needed to overhaul their business plan and set priorities. Once again, the SADC drew on its technical budgeting assistance to help the business get expert advice and prepare to reopen the site to visitors.
While financing is often what initially brings people into an SADC or CAE, as this story shows, the real business relationships and tangible impacts usually come from personalized coaching and technical advice provided by experts, tailored to each business regardless of its size, industry or specific needs.