Choose your settings
Choose your language
Skills development

Investing in local businesses

June 20, 2024

Desjardins Capital has been enriching Quebec's socioeconomic fabric for 50 years. It contributes to companies' key moments to ensure their growth and long-term survival. The important contribution from this investment partner to support entrepreneurs has helped transform organizations across all industries. This is evident from their involvement in the internal takeover of Norbec, a manufacturer based in Boucherville. 

Passing the torch

Since 1982, Norbec has been manufacturing walk-in coolers and freezers and architectural insulated panels for grocery stores, restaurants, food plants, large warehouses and sports centres. In 2017, owners Jean-Pierre Gingras and Dominique Majeau wanted to leave their family business, but they wanted to keep it in Quebec.

"Quebec is full of talent, capital and people with vision. And when sellers are willing to keep the business and jobs in the province, anything's possible."

- Nathalie Bernard, Chief Operating Officer, Desjardins Capital

Members of the management team, starting with current President and CEO Jan Lembregts, had expressed interest in taking the reins. Acquiring an established company required some creativity. At the time, it already had 180 employees and more than $50 million in annual sales revenue. 

"Our objectives were perfectly aligned. The family wanted to give up certain responsibilities while maintaining a financial interest. For me and my colleagues, it was a springboard to entrepreneurship."

- Jan Lembregts, President and CEO of Norbec, and Desjardins business member 

A succession plan was developed with support from Desjardins Capital. This investment partner then became a majority shareholder, and the former owners maintained some of their stakes in the company. The shares were gradually transferred to the new team over several years.

"Business succession is a priority for our economy. We need to help business owners plan their succession if we want to preserve Quebec flagships like Norbec. Desjardins Capital, our investment arm, allows us to diversify our funding structures and increase the pool of potential successors." 

- Jean-Yves Bourgeois, Executive Vice-President, Business Services, Desjardins Group

A breath of fresh air 

By using a prudent management approach and sticking to its true values, Norbec has been able to demonstrate its steady growth for 35 years. And it didn't take long for the company to reach even greater heights: the addition of new, ambitious managers, a board of directors with complementary expertise, upgraded equipment and support from other Desjardins entities all played a part. Today, Norbec has 350 employees and is increasing its presence across North America.

"Success is a virtuous circle. Today, we can afford to invest, build a $50 million plant in Ontario, automate, develop markets and recruit top talent to drive our success—and everyone comes out a winner."

- Jan Lembregts, President and CEO of Norbec

It all starts with trust 

At the time of the transfer, Norbec already had a solid team in place, a promising president and CEO, a vision for the future and an openness to collaboration. All of these things helped build a climate of trust that enabled Desjardins Capital to become the partner of choice.

"Our offer stands out because it's focused on our members' needs. We adapt our approach based on each entrepreneur's situation and provide technical expertise to create more value."

- Nathalie Bernard, Chief Operating Officer, Desjardins Capital

Desjardins Capital offers solutions at every stage of business growth, whether it's to carry out a strategic acquisition, expand overseas, upgrade facilities, or like Norbec, hand the reins over to a succession team.

50 years of support 

Business owners need to deal with many challenges today: economic uncertainty, labour shortages, high interest rates, and for some industries, difficulties recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. That's where a partner like Desjardins Capital can make a difference, with its understanding approach and social commitment. 

"We're here to help businesses celebrate their successes and overcome hardships. We're proud to be a respected partner that's agile, puts people first and helps drive growth—a partner that has been investing in Quebec for 50 years."

- Nathalie Bernard, Chief Operating Officer, Desjardins Capital