The Master Group LP

Boucherville, Quebec

HVAC, refrigeration distributors

Primary market: East Ontario, Quebec, Atlantic provinces

Number of employees: 400

President: Michel Ringuet


A hot and cold business


Canada’s construction industry has had a rough going for the last couple of years. However when construction slows, so do a lot of industries that are closely tied to it, such as heating, air conditioning and ventilation suppliers. Yet while many in the sector have been ringing their hands with worry, Master Group LP has been investing away, particularly in the Toronto market, where the company will open three locations this spring.


“We try to have a clear strategy, which we communicate well to our employees and which we stick to, unless there is good reason to change,” says Michel Ringuet, the company’s president.


Ringuet is used to running off the beaten track. A banker, by training, in the early 1990s, he decided to go into business for himself. However unlike many entrepreneurs, whose prime motivation was to be their own boss, Ringuet decided to partner up with Louis St-Laurent and Alain Fournier to buy out the Master Group, which at the time generated $30 million in sales. The company set the partners back a big chunk of change, including the assumption of significant debt. However after a few years of belt tightening, the investment began to pay off and by this year, sales had increased more than six-fold.


Ringuet attributes the company’s recent success to its increasingly decentralized management system, which pushes decisions regarding pricing, inventory and so on, as much as possible down to the branch level, as well as to the partners’ ability to work together.


Company officials are quite attuned to public concerns with the environment, and as a result, have been marketing increasingly sophisticated heating control systems, which cut emissions, as well as solar panels and other equipment. “The number one cause of global warming is not transportation, as some believe,” explains Ringuet. “It relates to the way we heat our buildings. If we don’t take the lead in this area who will?”



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