Deschenes Group Inc.

Montreal, Quebec

Distributor of plumbing, HVAC and waterworks supplies

Markets: Canada

Number of employees: 1,375

President: Martin Deschenes


Driven to success


When Martin Deschenes was 37 he went back to school to complete an MBA. It was an experience that changed his life. “When I went there, my business knowledge was not very refined - in many ways I was just like a little kid,” said Deschenes, president of Deschenes Group, a distributor of plumbing, HVAC and waterworks supplies. “But by the time I had finished I felt like I had grown a foot taller.”


Deschenes got a chance to put what he had learnt into practice several years later when he took over as president of the 99-outlet distribution chain that his grandfather had founded. Deschenes Group has spurred much of its rapid growth through a series of close to two dozen acquisitions. That, according to Deschenes, is a skill in itself. “When you buy a company, your work does not stop when you write the check,” said Deschenes. “You then have to integrate the new employees and mesh the corporate cultures. That takes more effort than many people realize”


Deschenes attributes the company’s success to its relentless attention to detail. “We sell products that are very similar to those of our competitors,” says Deschenes. “That means to stand out we have to provide our customers with a superior experience, much of which stems from their contacts with our personnel. So the key is having a well-trained and motivated staff.”


Deschenes Group tries to stand out in other small ways. These include stocking a wider range of products, providing exceptional delivery service and even by installing food counters at selected outlets, so that busy contractors can grab a quick bite while they are picking up supplies for their next job. In most branches Deschenes Group also installed a series of lockers outside, secured by combination locks, so that rush orders can be picked up overnight or on weekends.



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