Daniel Giguère, the entrepreneur behind La Voie Maltée, helped his parents when he was a teen with their wine and beer concentrate business. Out of the experience a great passion was brewed, and continues to ferment...
A few years later, when his father suggested he start his own business in Chicoutimi, the young finance student jumped at the opportunity. As the head of the company from 1996 to 2000, he learned the fundamentals of management. He also noticed Quebecers’ growing interest in all-grain brewed beer.
After completing a brewing course, Giguère closed his shop in order to focus on a completely new business plan. In 2002, he launched Jonquière’s La Voie Maltée, a small artisanal brewery where devotees of all-grain beer could indulge their passion.
The trick is in the marketing
There were a few women amongst his regular clientele, and he noted they had a preference for fine beer. So the entrepreneur decided to spare no expense in order to seduce the even more through a marketing strategy created specially for them.
“Since women are often the decision-makers when it comes to a couple’s consumption choices, we wanted to attract them, thinking that the men would then naturally follow.”
He launched a number of exotic, fruity concoctions, giving them feminine names to increase their appeal, starting with La Polissonne (a barley wine with 10% alcohol), later adding La Malcommode (a white beer with 4.6% alcohol), La Libertine (a light ale), La Graincheuse (a strong Belgian amber ale), La Rabat-joie (a blueberry white beer), La Fière-Pet (a cherry white beer), etcetera…
Adding a restaurant
In 2005, Giguère decided to enhance his offering with a well-researched menu of delicious, yet unpretentious fare. “The idea was to provide an opportunity to enjoy great cuisine and great beer in the same place. Customers can now spend their entire evening here, without having to go somewhere else for a nightcap.”
It was such a winning combination he repeated the experience by opening four more resto-pubs in succeeding years (two in Chicoutimi in 2008 and 2017, plus two in Quebec City in 2013 and 2018).
Giguère says of his new restaurant in Place de la Cité, “It’s our first family-style restaurant and it’s located in an area that gets a lot of tourists, which will allow us to reach many more customers. This is part of my growth plan: By establishing the business elsewhere in the region, there is less risk of being hurt by future events, like the closing of a plant, for example, which might affect my customer base. By diversifying my customer base and I can better secure a continuing source of revenue.”
Another event factored into building the brand’s reputation: In 2016, La Criminelle was named World’s Best Stout and Porter at the prestigious World Beer Awards. The resulting craze for the beer gave La Voie Maltée a lot of coverage in specialty media outlets around the world.
Demand suddenly increased, so Guiguère decided to open an industrial brewery in Chicoutimi in order to produce his celebrated beers in cans. “It’s what the market was asking for, so I delivered!”
The importance of listening
Good listening skills are the most important quality an entrepreneur or leader needs to have, in Giguère’s opinion. “I make my business decisions after a lot of analysis and I always trust my gut. But I also think it’s important to listen to your customers and your employees,” affirms the entrepreneur, who says he is particularly proud of creating hundreds of jobs in his region of Quebec.
“It’s important to never stop looking out for opportunities in acquisitions, mergers, expansion and development...”
Nevertheless, in the near future Giguère has plans to slow down the pace a bit. “We just opened two restaurants within a few months and we’re all a bit out of breath. My employees need to slow down a little... It’s important to respect that. So we’re going to consolidate our efforts over the next two years,” he explains, adding, “But we’re still going to keep an eye out for what’s coming next in the market, of course!”
La Voie Maltée in Numbers:
800: Number of points of sale in Quebec (Saguenay, Quebec City and Montreal areas)
425: Number of employees
250: Number of seats in the new Quebec City restaurant
$10 million: Total payroll
Want to learn more?
Visit the website of La Voie Maltée