Even though she had the right family name, Stéphanie Morin still needed to pay her dues before she could join the Patrick Morin chain of hardware stores. But today she is finally ready to participate in the company’s steady growth.
Although she is only 35, Stéphanie Morin is the oldest member of the third generation of the Morin family, which owns the Patrick Morin chain of hardware stores. For the past seven years she has been working for the company that was founded by her paternal grandfather in 1960 in Sainte-Marcelline-de-Kildare, in Lanaudière. “Patrick is no longer a part of the company, even though he regularly does the rounds at our stores. At 91, that’s no small feat!” exclaims Stéphanie Morin, who acts as the chain’s assistant director of standards and procedures.
Despite her family name, Stéphanie did not benefit from any special treatment when she was hired in 2011. Like her sister Marie-Michelle and cousin Olivier who joined the company after her, the young mother needed to measure up to the same strict requirements put in place for the seven representatives and owners belonging to the second generation of the Morin family, who are all now aged 54 and over. “After we finished our studies, we were required to work somewhere else for two years. Then, when a post became available, we had to apply and successfully pass the job interview,” explains the chartered accountant, who received her training at HEC Montréal.
This practice, established by the family council, has several advantages, including promoting the acquisition of a valuable knowledge base. But its main goal was to avoid the negative effects the right family name could have on candidate selection. “It’s a question of legitimacy and fairness to our future co-workers and employees. We’re not here to steal anyone’s job,” emphasizes Stéphanie. The other third-generation Morins are currently undergoing the same process.
Stéphanie Morin is responsible for annual and periodic inventory, checkout operations and the receiving of products. She also acts as a liaison for administrative services so that operational decisions function well in a financial sense. These everyday tasks allow her to get involved at several levels of the company’s operations and have an overall view of what is going on.
Her understanding of the business ended up being an undeniable asset once she joined the Patrick Morin board of directors, which includes her father, François, as well as her aunts and uncles. “As a full member of the board, I have a say in decision making for the chain of stores,” she confirms. Although their points of view may differ from time to time, the second “baby boomer” generation work hand-in-hand with the third “millennial” generation of Morins.
“Despite our age differences, the values everyone brings to the table are shared by all: respect, teamwork and communication.”
– Stéphanie Morin
In fact, the only board member who is not a part of the Morin family is Daniel Lampron, the CEO of Patrick Morin. As CEO, he is responsible for leading the company in the direction decided by the council. He also reports on the activities of the company’s operational council, which is composed of the chain’s divisional heads. “Daniel is a pivotal figure who shares our values,” summarizes Stéphanie.
The web, recruitment and growth
Patrick Morin is also experiencing the same challenges currently faced by other retail businesses, beginning with the shift into the digital realm. The hardware chain began its switch the preceding year by launching a transactional website. Now consumers, do-it-yourselfers and professionals in the construction business can place their orders through the site and pick up their goods in-store. “Our customers are still used to going to the hardware store in person. Buying two-by-fours isn’t like buying a sweater—you have to see them and get a feel for the material,” explains Stéphanie. Although it’s still too early to precisely quantify, online sales represent a tiny portion of Patrick Morin’s revenue.
Another big challenge was recruiting from a workforce that had few or no skills. In a period of low unemployment, attracting candidates and keeping employees can be difficult, especially during the summer period when hardware stores are hives of activity. One way the company overcomes these difficulties is by organizing periodic recruiting events—the most recent occurred in mid-March. “After opening six new locations since 2011, staffing is a constant issue,” admits Stéphanie. A typical Patrick Morin renovation centre has around a hundred employees.
No other new locations are planned to open in the near future, despite the fact that the company’s views on expansion are clear. “My father, who is in charge of business development, investigates every opportunity that arises, no matter where it is in Quebec. These kinds of projects are spaced out over several years,” she explains. The same goes for passing on the business from the second to the third generation. “There’s no set date at the moment,” states Stéphanie.
Patrick Morin in Numbers:
- 1,400: Number of employees across the chain of stores
- $286 million: Revenue for 2017
- 40,000: Square footage of a typical Patrick Morin renovation centre
Want to learn more?
Visit the Patrick Morin website