Pelican International
Laval, Quebec
Kayaks, paddle boats, canoes
Primary markets: Canada, United States
Number of employees: 400
Contact: Christian Elie, president

Pelican floats to the top

Rising vacation home prices are an often underplayed segment of Canada’s strong real estate market. The trend has spurred the growth of businesses that help owners enjoy cottage life. One such player is Pelican International, which claims to be the world’s largest manufacturer of kayaks, paddle boats and pleasure craft, many of which are used by summer cottage goers.

The business, which was founded by Gérard Elie, the father of Christian Elie (its current president) and of brother Antoine (its CEO), is run based on traditional family values. These include a long-term outlook, hard work and continuous productivity improvement. One example: Pelican International’s sales have tripled during the past decade, but its employee base has only doubled.

Profits are in large part reinvested into the business. Earlier this year Pelican International, which recently produced its two millionth plastic boat, announced it would channel $1.5 million into new machinery that would boost annual production capacity by 35,000 units. This will help meet demand in international markets, particularly the United States.

Pelican International also devotes significant funds to innovation. The company regularly introduces new products and claims to have marketed the world’s first plastic peddle boat.  Marketing products that are widely used by nature lovers has made company employees highly environmentally-conscious.

Pelican International thus now recycles almost all excess materials produced in the manufacturing process. Strategy in coming years will focus on building Pelican International’s relationships with North American big box retailers, developing new international markets and increasing its presence in higher end markets through its Elie and Pelican Premium brands.


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