Entrepreneur Stories

JMJ Aerospace: A woman’s take on growth, MarieChantal Chassé’s Story

JMJ Aerospace: A woman’s take on growth

MarieChantal Chassé’s Story

Specializing in outsourcing and the management of technical experts, JMJ Aerospace helps clients cope with the cyclic nature of their business activities. To overcome a challenge particular to the aeronautics industry, MarieChantal Chassé, CEO of this international SME based in Montérégie, developed a highly innovative flagship project.

MarieChantal Chassé was up to her neck in baby formula when she decided to start a business in 1997. On maternity leave after the birth of her second daughter, she got involved in a business project along with her husband at the time, who had created an aerospace maintenance company two years earlier called JITAA. Being an engineer and quality manager at a metal processing facility, she had written JITAA’s business plan.

A few days before September 11, 2001, JITAA purchased its second hangar for maintaining and repairing airplanes. But the 9/11 attacks hit the economy hard, and banks became risk averse, so Chassé decided to take over JITAA on her own in 2002, renaming the company JMJ Aerospace and focusing its energies on outsourcing.

Overcoming a big challenge

Chassé was already aware that the aerospace industry suffered from big workforce fluctuations, which were inherent given the cyclic changes in this sector’s activities. “It’s hard on employees that are laid off and it’s hard for companies, because every time they cut positions they lose important skills,” stresses Chassé. 

Given the situation, aerospace companies isolated themselves from one another. “They’re able to keep the airplanes moving, but they’re not able to talk to each other in order to see whether their workers can be used for the benefit of other businesses,” explains Chassé.

That realization led to the idea of launching a resource-sharing project. “Before resorting to unemployment insurance for laid-off workers, couldn’t these aerospace companies find a solution amongst themselves?” she queried.

Cooperation is the solution

Initially put off due to the competitive nature of the industry, companies were not very receptive to her idea, but after a few years it gained traction. Then the crisis of 2008 hit, and the last few holdouts got on board.

In 2013, the PARC project was officially launched. Driven by JMJ Aerospace, the project promoted savings in terms of management and human resources through sharing. Uniting industry players like Bombardier, Bell Helicopter and Pratt & Whitney, it aimed to test out resource sharing models in order to stabilize the workforce and improve the competitiveness of the companies involved.

It’s a philosophy that Chassé also applies within JMJ Aerospace. For example, rather than taking offence at an employee leaving in order to accept new challenges elsewhere, Chassé would make a deal with the new employer so that quality employees could be available to help JMJ Aerospace with its projects. “We are increasingly pooling our resources with those of our clients,” she says. 

Growth that takes time

Chassé also has an unusual way of managing JMJ Aerospace’s growth. In opposition to the tyranny of growth and profit that prevails at companies focused solely on financial motivations, Chassé doesn’t hesitate to go with options that may be more costly in the short term, but are beneficial to the future of the business.

“The secret to lasting in business is having the wisdom to make daring decisions and being patient while growth is happening under the surface. Nature doesn’t live only in summer. Sometimes you have to nurture those still-hidden seeds at other times of the year in order to reap the rewards later.”

– MarieChantal Chassé 

The female eye

For Chassé, a company needs to be a place where everyone can find fulfillment, rather than being dominated by the quest for profit at any cost. 

A sign of her feminine outlook, she chose to name her company using the initials of her three daughters instead of her family name, as men often do. “At first I was embarrassed to admit it so I would say that JMJ stood for “Just more jobs,” she recalls.

Today, the businesswoman is reclaiming entrepreneurship for women and working on a book in order to communicate her unique, innovative point of view on business and the working world.

JMJ Aerospace in Numbers

  • 320: Number of projects completed in the past 10 years 
  • 7: Number of countries in which JMJ Aerospace has a presence
  • 25%: Growth rate based on the previous year 

Want to learn more?

Visit the JMJ Aerospace and Projet PARC websites