Author: Magali Boutroy

Meet at Paysalia: An Inspiring Journey with the Cooperative!

When you think of a business trip, you probably imagine endless meetings in impersonal conference rooms. At Groupex, it’s quite different! We have transformed the concept of a business trip to include enjoyment, inspiration, and learning.

When Paris and Lyon call us…

We are pleased to announce that our next inspirational trip will take place from December 2 to 9, where our lucky members will have the opportunity to visit not just one, but two iconic cities in France: Paris and Lyon!

A breathtaking program

For our participants, this trip will be an adventure filled with discoveries. Here’s a glimpse of what awaits them:

Visiting renowned companies in the field: Meeting with professionals who energize the industry and discovering behind the scenes of major players in landscaping. An ongoing project: Real-time observation of the transformation of a space, from idea to realization, and diving into the creative process. A completed project: Discovering the breathtaking achievements of our peers. Visiting landscaping schools: Exploring the places where the next generation of landscapers is trained, and having enriching exchanges with students and teachers.

Paysalia: More than a trade show, an experience!

But the highlight will undoubtedly be our participation in the very famous Paysalia show in Lyon. For those who don’t know, Paysalia is the leading trade show for the landscaping profession in France. It’s not just an exhibition space, it’s a true crossroads of innovations, trends, and exchanges for all landscape professionals. From conferences to demonstrations, including meetings with suppliers and industry experts, Paysalia is a must-attend event for any landscaper wanting to stay on top of their game.

The magic of the cooperative

Let me tell you, the success of this trip was not a surprise. In less than a month, all the registrations were completed. Why such enthusiasm? Because these trips are not just “trips.” They offer real added value in terms of learning, networking, and discovery. It’s the perfect opportunity for our members to step out of their comfort zone, acquire new skills, and get inspired by the best practices of the trade.

Are you envious?

For you reading this article thinking, “I should have been part of it,” I have news for you. These trips are exclusively reserved for members of our cooperative. The good news? It’s never too late to join us! Becoming a member means benefiting from a solid network, accessing valuable resources, and, of course, participating in our famous inspirational trips.

Membership application form >

Groupex et Passion Jardins welcome you to Ferme Guyon.

Founded in 2004 by André and Sébastien Dion, Ferme Guyon in Chambly is today a vast garden center, an educational farm, and a popular market focused on Quebec terroir products. Meeting with the president and CEO of a company that places interpersonal relationships at the center of all its initiatives.

“I think it was after my bachelor’s degree in accounting that my entrepreneurial spirit really emerged!” recalls Sébastien Dion, who studied at HEC Montréal, then continued his training at Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton and in the popular brewery led by his father: Unibroue.

“I quickly realized that, much more than accounting, it was customer contact, marketing, and sales that fascinated me.”

Sébastien recounts that he was the general manager of the family business when Sleeman offered to buy it in 2004. “I was supposed to continue working there for 2 years, but I only stayed 2 months! Because my father and I were elsewhere: we wanted to create a garden center that did things differently.” Thus, André and Sébastien went to Europe to visit various types of garden centers and draw inspiration from them. “It was mainly focused on the customer experience, with themes and beautiful model gardens, so people would stay longer and have a good time.”

Back in Chambly, father and son set to work to start their project… which still had no name. “Since there was already a Dion garden center in Sainte-Thérèse, we had to find something else!” he jokes. “So, we decided to keep the name my father had created a long time ago when he bought the land: Ferme Guyon.” A building and greenhouses appeared, and the co-founders were ready to welcome their first customers.

Listening, Mutual Aid, and Personalization

In the early days of their new kind of garden center, André and Sébastien were constantly asked where the animals of their “farm” were. Given this enthusiasm, they gradually populated Ferme Guyon with chickens, cows, goats, etc. “Then, we quickly realized that people were curious: they asked us questions about the color of eggs, how to make milk or honey, for example. We thought it would be good to add an educational component,” says the CEO.

Thus, in 2011, the educational farm and butterfly house of Ferme Guyon were born; two activities very popular with school groups in the region. “I think it’s very important to be present on the ground and to listen to customers. Perhaps that’s my father’s greatest legacy,” he confides. “Let’s say that if we had stuck to our business plan, the Farm wouldn’t look anything like it does today! We’ve diversified a lot, and that gave us a good hand during the pandemic.”

The CEO of Ferme Guyon reflects on the major lessons he draws from the growth of his business:

“A business relationship is not just a negotiation. I think we need to be real partners, friends above all. My goal is to create a relationship. The same goes for our team; the atmosphere is familial.”

Sébastien Dion

It is with this in mind that he decided to join Groupex in 2021, and then the Passion Jardins banner in 2022: “Mutual aid is so important! At one point during the pandemic, I found myself in a tight spot and called Martin [Girouard, from Serres Girouard, a member of Groupex]. He agreed to help me before I even told him what I needed.” According to Sébastien, in an era where everything can be bought online, it is personalization and excellent service that allow businesses to stand out. You have to give people reasons to visit the premises and maintain a connection with them.

“I like the way Passion Jardins highlights the people behind each initiative. It aligns very well with our approach. Our farmer’s market has always been centered on people – who makes the bread, cheese, chocolate… We also focus a lot on local purchasing, for example, by participating in the Chambly en boîte project. So, it was really logical for us to join the coop!”

After investing several years in the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Bassin de Chambly, Sébastien intends to continue giving back to his community in various ways. A long-time partner of the Société Alzheimer du Haut-Richelieu, his company plans to organize another monarch butterfly release fundraiser this fall. Recently, the business also invites small producers to rent a plot of land and take advantage of the visibility of its farmer’s market to sell their food.

Jardin Pro : A crossroads of expertise

When asked about the philosophy of Jardin Pro, the nursery she directs with her partner Andreas Nipkau in Saint-Denis-de-Brompton, the first word that comes to Sonia Alberts’ mind is transmission – the transmission of knowledge, as well as the passion for gardening.

Since 1995, sharing expertise has been at the heart of Jardin Pro‘s mission, a family business that values collaboration and mutual aid, whether among its employees, with customers, or with other companies that are members of Groupex.

Inspired by her horticultural studies in Germany, Sonia Alberts returned to Quebec intending to start her own business (originally named Champs Fleuris St-Denis).

“I grew up in a family of entrepreneurs, so it’s in my DNA! My study program was very cooperative: students were paired with businesses. I learned a lot there,”

Sonia Alberts

Sonia refers to the very particular expertise she acquired from a European dahlia producer, which today allows Jardin Pro to stand out.

Building bridges

“In Germany, I also discovered the importance of knowledge transfer between experienced and beginner individuals,” adds Sonia. This master-apprentice learning model, widespread in Europe, deeply inspired her. “I understood the importance of passing on expertise from generation to generation, and that’s something we value today at Jardin Pro.”

The company she co-directs with Andreas Nipkau, which now employs 25 people, also utilizes the services of two of their children: David, who is responsible for a landscaping team, and Catherine, more interested in greenhouse production and the garden center. “We are very pleased that they want to invest in the business!”

David, Sonia, Catherine et Andreas

To build bridges between long-standing employees and new recruits, and to promote the diffusion of expertise, Sonia also implemented a “succession plan” at Jardin Pro: a large board where each staff member can indicate the knowledge they wish to acquire or share.

Nursery Team 2022
Landscaping Team 2022

“At our place, the person who holds the knowledge must be generous and show what they know to the younger employee. In return, the younger employee demonstrates interest and gratitude for what they are taught. As the nursery grows, new pairings are made.”

Sonia Alberts

Sharing among companies and with customers

When asked why her garden center is a member of Groupex, Sonia offers an answer inspired by the same philosophy. “Transmission among employees is very important, but mutual aid among companies is just as important!” she believes. “Some years are harder than others in horticulture, and it’s like a breath of fresh air to be able to discuss together, exchange tips, and encourage each other.”

The founder remembers the support offered by other sector companies – like Profil jardins, another member of our cooperative – in training Andreas upon his arrival in Quebec. “He is now a landscaper, but when we lived in Europe, he specialized in construction, natural gas, and water. It’s thanks to other good landscapers that he gained experience.”

Sonia and Andreas now share the direction of Jardin Pro; she, as head of landscaping, and he, as chief landscaper. “We complement each other from A to Z!” she exclaims. “I have a very pronounced social and creative side, and he is good with analytical tasks and fieldwork.”

Another vector for knowledge transmission at Jardin Pro is its participation in Groupex’s eco-responsible cohort. While sustainable development has been at the heart of the company’s reflections for many years, Sonia explains how her approach has transformed: now, from the first meeting for any landscaping project, the option to integrate more biodiversity is offered right in the contract.

“We have been proactive in sustainable development at the employee level for a long time, with a dedicated committee. But we also decided to do the same with our clientele: many want more sustainable projects, without knowing how to do it, and we suggest solutions. The enthusiasm is really there!”

Sonia Alberts

Serres Pierre Brisebois et Fils : On a family scale

Here is the translation of the text into Canadian English:

Since 1980, the horticultural company founded by Pierre and Diane Brisebois has been serving a very loyal clientele in Laval. Today, led by a second generation of managers, it has also been offering a thriving garden center for 15 years.

“When our long-time customers talk about our parents, it makes us nostalgic, but it’s always positive,” says Éric Brisebois, who now directs the family business with his brothers Philippe and Dominic, as well as his sister-in-law Marie-Ève.

« On se dit souvent : “Si seulement ils voyaient comment la compagnie a évolué… ils n’en croiraient pas leurs yeux!” On est fiers d’avoir réussi à continuer dans une voie qu’ils auraient aimée. »

Éric Brisebois, Co-owner

A gradual transition

The transfer of the business to the new generation of Brisebois was marked by some trials, particularly the death of its two founders four years apart. But today, Serres Pierre Brisebois et Fils (PBF) are stronger than ever: their vast production greenhouses and their garden center on Dagenais Boulevard are hugely successful. And their team of 18 people is made up of employees with several years of loyal service.

While Dominic got involved very early in plant production with his parents, Éric says that for him, the decision wasn’t necessarily straightforward: “After studying agronomy, I worked for four other companies in the horticultural sector before making my ‘return to the roots’,” he recalls. “Even though I was convinced I would never work for the family business, it seems it was ingrained in me! When my brother decided to build a garden center, I thought if I didn’t try, I would regret it.”

In 2010, Éric and Philippe joined Serres PBF, teaming up with their brother Dominic. “We’re all versatile, but each has a different strength. I think the business works well because we manage to really leverage each person’s strength.”

Today, Dominic mainly takes care of the greenhouses; Éric, the garden center; and Philippe is a ‘hybrid’ active on both sides, in addition to taking care of machinery repair and maintenance. The core of the business is completed by the indispensable Marie-Ève, Dominic’s wife, who handles accounting and purchases for the garden center.

A Family Atmosphere

Formerly specialized in wholesale, Serres PBF added a new string to their bow in 2007: retail sales. This expansion led to strong growth. To support it, the company relied on the support of Groupex, particularly for advertising and supply, not to mention the mutual aid between members, which Éric finds very important: he is also involved in the cooperative within the Passion Jardins committee as well as the committee that develops flyers for the banner.

“We are now at the peak of our growth: we could grow more, but we decided to stay on a more family scale. There are a lot of advantages to being a small team: our customers feel that they are not just numbers, we know their names and what they bought last time. It’s not even intentional: we’re just like that. My parents were too! And I think our customers appreciate it.”

– Éric Brisebois, Serres PBF

Regarding recent transformations, the manager also cites the new configuration of his garden center, whose public-accessible area was significantly expanded during the pandemic. “It was an idea to respond to sanitary measures, but we’re going to keep it. People love wandering in the section formerly reserved for production: they like to see how it happens, and they have much more choice than before!”

Pépinière Locas : Welcome to the third generation

Here is the translation of the text into Canadian English:

Well-established in Laval for several decades, the family business founded by Robert Locas and then taken over by his son Yoland is promised a bright future under the direction of Sébastien and Annie-Claude Locas, who are playing an increasingly active role.

“For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to work with plants. You could say I fell into it when I was little! I don’t think there was ever a plan B,”

Sébastien Locas, responsible for plant purchases

Trained in agricultural business management at McGill University, Sébastien officially joined the nursery in 2004, a year before his sister Annie-Claude, who now oversees human resources and advertising. Supported by their father, who is still very involved in the business, as well as their mother Marie-Andrée, both are gradually taking over the popular garden center on Sainte-Rose Boulevard, in Fabreville.

“Even though the business transfer is underway, we especially don’t want to change its nature: there won’t be a ‘before’ and ‘after’,” reveals the entrepreneur, before adding: “It’s really a continuation, because my sister and I feel that the nursery is already in our image.”

Sébastien Locas

Pépinière Locas, Laval
Pépinière Locas, Laval

A Shared Passion

If Pépinière Locas was among the first members of Groupex, Sébastien recounts that it drifted away for some time before coming back strongly in 2019.

“Alone, we might go faster, but together, we go much further! We realized how precious it is for us to be able to discuss with other entrepreneurs. In essence, Groupex is like a big family of enthusiasts, and everyone who is part of it is happy to exchange and share.”

Sébastien Locas

Sébastien also does not hesitate to share his passion for plants with his customers, who have evolved a lot over the years, and his team, which grows from 35 to 70 people during the high season. Due to high demand all year round, the nursery has chosen to stay open even in winter, thanks to its Christmas-themed offerings.

“I love the contact with plants, and I’m proud to produce quality plants. It brings me a lot of satisfaction! Our tropical plant greenhouse is really impressive, and we notice that people are coming from increasingly far for it,” he says enthusiastically. Sébastien is also pleased that tropical plants and urban agriculture are attracting more and more young enthusiasts, largely thanks to social media.

Since its foundation, Locas Nursery has evolved according to the trends and needs of its clientele: for example, the purchase of large trees to beautify spacious grounds has gradually given way to small planters and balcony containers, more suited to the demographic reality and densification of the Laval territory.

The family business has also started offering specialized products for chicken breeding, when it noticed the interest of residents, as well as a wider range of products for the vegetable garden – another practice that is gaining more followers. The company is also very interested in technical innovations, especially those that save water or avoid the use of pesticides.

Always on the lookout for new trends, Annie-Claude and Sébastien are not about to stop implementing innovations and products at Locas Nursery: “We’ve always loved observing what is done elsewhere. We’ve traveled a lot in Canada, the United States, France, Belgium, and the Netherlands to visit garden centers, get inspired, and propose new ideas back home in Laval.”

Serres vivaces et annuelles
Équipe Pépinière Locas
Serres Pépinière Locas

Serres Dame Nature : Audacity, Environment, and Nordicity

Located in Lac-Saint-Jean, Les Serres Dame Nature have a knack for innovating and doing things differently. Rébéca Rouleau, co-owner, talks about unrelated succession, networking, and the bold initiatives her company has launched over the past 20 years.

“Many think we are a couple, but that’s not true! When the time came to take over my parents’ company, I hired a headhunter to find the ideal business partner, someone with strengths complementary to mine to assist in the succession.” Rébéca Rouleau, co-owner

Rébéca, humorously referring to her associate, Martin Harvey, and the non-traditional management model of her company. This approach seems to have borne fruit: for 21 years, she has co-directed with Martin the incredible expansion of Les Serres Dame Nature, in Saint-Gédéon.

Rébéca Rouleau and Martin Harvey, owners of Les Serres Dame Nature

Trained in agribusiness management at Université Laval, Rébéca is the first to admit that she is not a “numbers person.” Her passion has always been marketing, human resources, communication: in short, everything else! “Martin is a pro in finance, and that’s the nerve center of business! We are super lucky at Dame Nature to have both sides: my proactive and quite fiery side, let’s say… and Martin’s down-to-earth, more Cartesian and thoughtful strength.

I always have lots of ideas and projects, and thankfully he’s there to bring me back to order, sometimes!

“Martin is a pro in finance, and that’s the nerve center of business!”

Rébéca Rouleau

A New Vision

As soon as they formed the duo, they conducted a detailed analysis of their SME and a strategic plan reflecting their vision for the future of Les Serres Dame Nature. A significant overhaul of the business model followed: “The main difference is that my parents focused on wholesale sales in food markets. Martin and I decided to offer an experience directly to people at our location. This allowed us to better control our revenues, instead of giving it to big brands. We really don’t regret it!” explains Rébéca, adding that this approach also allowed them to prioritize quality over quantity.

Les Serres Dames Nature thus equipped themselves with a garden center responsible today for 80% of their turnover. Gradually, they acquired neighboring lands to create a nursery, expanded existing structures, and added landscaping and maintenance services. New companies were also founded: Les Herbes du Lac (2014), then Fleuriste Racine Karé (2016). “They have become important wagons of the Dame Nature locomotive!” estimates Rébéca. “Today, we’re at the stage of refining everything we’ve put in place over the last 15 years.”

Les herbes du Lac nominated at the Gala des grands prix agroalimentaires in the Maxi-Provigo Public Prize category
Les herbes du Lac, available at all Maxi-Provigo grocers in the Lac St-Jean region

Another important decision made by the two managers was to join Passion Jardins in 2007, a network of garden centers located throughout Quebec.

“When we became a garden center, we thought it was an important stepping stone! The coop helped us increase our notoriety and our purchasing power. Also, having a network is so important: I love the exchange and mutual aid,”


Rébéca is also very happy to be part of a network of women entrepreneurs in the sector, with whom she discusses and shares on a private platform; a way to support each other, ask questions, and give advice.

The Future of Dame Nature

Among the main projects Rébéca and Martin are working on is the designation of plants that are adapted to northern conditions and the creation of an associated brand. “We want to develop our expertise and increase our production of plants zoned for Saguenay‒Lac-Saint-Jean, with our short summers and cooler nights.” She explains enthusiastically that the new label will apply to annuals, perennials, and vegetables alike.

Another project that will occupy the managers over the next year is the extension of all the sustainability-focused initiatives of Les Serres Dame Nature. ‘We have already done our CO2 assessment, we compost everything, and we have limited packaging. Now, it’s time to tackle water management. We want to invest to better recover it, use basins and gutters… It’s complex, but it’s close to our heart!”

Les Serres Laliberté : a very promising succession

Since their foundation in 1970, Les Serres Laliberté have experienced impressive expansion. Sylvie Laliberté, co-owner, talks about the evolution of her company and the importance of networking.

In Bellechasse, everyone knows Les Serres Laliberté. Active for over 40 years, the family business now produces a wide variety of annuals, perennials, and shrubs, which it sells at its popular garden center in Sainte-Claire. Its loyal team of about twenty people is proud to serve long-standing customers.

 “It all started with a small greenhouse of 6 feet by 8 feet… My grandmother had bought seeds, and my father didn’t want anything to do with having seedlings in the house!”

 Sylvie Laliberté, co-owner

She also notes that, long before the creation of the garden center, the sales technique employed was completely different. “In the era of Avon saleswomen, she sold her products door to door!” Sylvie now works alongside her partner, Denis Fecteau, who took over the reins of Les Serres Laliberté in 1985.

“After his studies in forestry, Denis realized that he was also very interested in horticulture. It’s a bit like urban forestry, right?” jokes the accounting specialist. “He decided to buy my parents’ company and then I joined him a little later. And soon, it will be our turn to finalize the transfer to our son Steeve.”

Sabrina Fecteau, maintenance supervisor
Isabelle Lacasse, garden center employee

To say that the Laliberté-Fecteaus grew up with horticulture is an understatement. Around the age of 16, Sylvie and Denis’s children – Steeve, Sabrina, and Kathleen – began learning the ins and outs of the business. Trained at the Institut de technologie agroalimentaire de Saint-Hyacinthe, their eldest son is now co-owner and in charge of the company’s landscaping aspect. Sabrina supervises the maintenance services, while the youngest, Kathleen, has recently started part-time at the garden center.

A Network of Affinities

Following the suggestion of friendly companies active in the sector, Les Serres Laliberté decided to join Groupex in 2001:

 “Of course, we save a lot of money by grouping together, but I also like the sharing network it creates. It’s fun to give each other tips, to ask for advice… In the end, we’re a great group who speak the same language!”

Sylvie Laliberté

Sylvie refers to the collaboration with companies like Ferme horticole Lajoie or the Lessard family of Mégantic (Lessard Garden Center and Paysages François Lessard).

Since their membership, Les Serres Laliberté have grown impressively, with the gradual addition of new services (landscaping, maintenance, and snow removal) and several expansion phases. Initially focused on annuals and vegetable plants, production has gradually diversified to include a wide variety of plants and perennials, in addition to selling associated products.

According to Sylvie, it’s now the garden center that brings in the most for the family business, accounting for 50% of sales, followed by landscaping (25%) and maintenance (25%). “Now, all our production is sold here, to individuals, but also to a few municipalities for which we prepare planters,” she adds.

Passion Jardins Sainte-Claire
service de vrac
entreprise certifée Maître paysagsite

Bergeron Paysagiste : Happiness is on the construction site

Over the past 26 years, Stevens Bergeron’s landscaping company has grown significantly, whether through adding services like snow removal or acquiring businesses. Looking back at the major milestones of a very fulfilling journey.

“It has always been clear to me that I wanted to be my own boss,” asserts Stevens Bergeron, who now heads the Lévis companies Paysages Bergeron and Entreprises S. Bergeron, offering a wide variety of residential and commercial services today.

But at 11 years old, when he started mowing his neighbors’ lawns after delivering newspapers in his neighborhood (all to later buy a scooter!), he couldn’t imagine the extent of his entrepreneurial adventure. Founded in 1996, Bergeron Landscaping has never stopped growing and diversifying its fields of activity… up to today.

 “I had my first employees at 13 years old! Since then, we’ve grown to 64 employees, sometimes managing 12 sites at the same time… After so much growth, I decided to reorganize the company to be closer to people. It reignites the flame!” he tells, clearly still very passionate about his work.

Stevens Bergeron, owner

“I want to focus our efforts on our prestige landscaping projects,” says Stevens, mentioning two particularly ambitious high-end residential projects he’s eager to present, at Lac-Beauport and Saint-Agapit. “It’s a service in high demand, and we’re happy to be able to serve a very demanding clientele. In short, it’s now time to grow instead of just getting bigger!”

Summer 2022 Achievement
Bergeron Paysagiste – certified Master Landscaper

Back to the Roots

At the time of our conversation, Stevens was delighted to have recently returned to directing operations, visiting sites, and having direct contact with people, aspects he missed in recent years.

The entrepreneur, who now wears multiple hats, recalls that his very first training was a DEP in heavy machinery mechanics, followed by a diploma in landscaping at Fierbourg. He then refined his knowledge in entrepreneurship, acquiring his RBQ Construction license along the way. And finally, from 2014 to 2016, he completed the Elite course at the École d’entrepreneurship de Beauce.

Of all the training I’ve done, my best experience was at the School of Entrepreneurship. It was a great way to meet people, network, break out of isolation. It’s partly for the same reasons I joined Groupex: the ‘family’ aspect we find there

Stevens Bergeron

Stevens emphasizes the importance of staying in touch with his peers. He does this through the Groupement des chefs d’entreprise (now EntreChefs PME) and the Maison des leaders.

Key Moments

One of the major steps in the growth of Bergeron Landscaping was the creation of a snow removal division, mainly to provide year-round work for its employees. The service was first offered to individuals, before being redirected exclusively to the commercial sector – for example, shopping center parking lots, and today those of the Valero (Jean-Gaulin) refinery in Lévis.

Other major events were the acquisition of Embellissement des 2 rives – Teronet and then Monsieur Patio. “It’s a bit special because at the end of my studies, it was at Teronet where I had my internship. It had remained a model for me: I wanted to start a company that resembled that!”

According to Stevens, this acquisition went very smoothly, largely because his director Mehdi El Gaied and he share the same values. “We’ve known each other for 20 years! I’m very proud to have him today as director of sales and design. We’ve always had a very good relationship.”

All aspects of Entreprises S. Bergeron are now managed with the same attention to detail. “Both for landscaping and snow removal, we’re proud to offer our clients a turnkey service. We do everything to give them peace of mind. Well-done work, reliability, these are part of our values and I hold them dear!”

GTL Paysagiste : Cooperate to Succeed

The growth of a company is a challenge in itself. I learned more in one year at Groupex than in ten years in business on my own,” estimates Gabriel Tougas, President of GTL Paysagiste and member of the Board of Directors of Groupex.

Since its inception, GTL Landscaping seems to have made a giant leap. Looking at Gabriel Tougas’s company in 2022 – with its 60 employees and a track record filled with prestigious landscaping awards – it’s hard to imagine the summer job he improvised during his studies.

“I have been interested in the landscaping sector since I was very young, but I also wanted to study communications. During my bachelor’s degree in public relations, my small business began to grow: I remember managing the routes of my team of five while I was in class. It had become complicated!” he recounts with a laugh.

It was in 2012, after graduating from the University of Montreal, that the entrepreneur from La Prairie decided to incorporate. Since then, he has been fully devoted to the management and development of GTL Landscaping, which carries out high-end residential landscaping on the South Shore, in the Eastern Townships, and in Montreal.

The Importance of Surrounding Yourself Well

Whether you think of Littoral or Luxe (winner of three awards at the 42nd APPQ competition), the diversity and scope of GTL Landscaping’s projects continue to grow. But Gabriel insists on the importance of gradual growth: “I never aimed for growth at all costs. My goal has always been to do things better, simplify our processes, and focus on the good players we already have,” he explains.

Gabriel Tougas Leclerc

“I’m the first to admit it: I’m not a construction site guy! My strength is primarily sales. I think the success of the company largely rests on this: I quickly sought the expertise of others to support me.”

Gabriel Tougas-Leclerc

Gabriel has surrounded himself with several architects, designers, and horticulturists. Recently, Gabriel has also relied on the experience of his father, Michel Leclerc, Director of Human Resources.

Michel Leclerc, HR Director G.T.L

Another essential meeting for the expansion of GTL occurred directly through the networking of Groupex: that of Patrick Gauthier and Karine Vadnais, then at the helm of Tourne-Le-Sol Landscaping in Ange-Gardien. “As soon as I arrived at Groupex, we quickly clicked. We decided to work together and then merge our businesses.” Patrick now handles operations at GTL, while Karine is the Landscaping Coordinator.

Karine Vadnais

Among the benefits of being part of a cooperative, Gabriel often refers to the sharing of knowledge. “The chance to discuss with entrepreneurs who have 30 years of experience is invaluable. Exchange, mutual aid, friendship… I think other fields would benefit from adopting a cooperative model like Groupex, for example, construction. I hope Groupex continues to develop, maybe even outside Quebec! I see many growth opportunities and everyone benefits.”

Gabriel Tougas Leclerc

André Carbonneau gardens celebrate their 50th anniversary

Since 1972, gardening enthusiasts from Mauricie and Lanaudière have been meeting at Jardins André Carbonneau. What are the secrets behind its success and longevity? André Carbonneau, owner and producer, talks about his journey, his team, and his love for his profession.

When he took over the direction of the company founded by his parents, Alexandre and Marie-Jeanne (formerly Regional Garden Center of Louiseville), at the turn of the 90s, André Carbonneau had no idea that he would one day develop such a great passion for plant production. “For me, taking over the family business was the easy way… almost lazy!” laughs the entrepreneur from Louiseville.

Seriously, from the age of 10 or 12, I followed my parents everywhere, and I learned so much that it almost became natural, continues the man who still pursued training in ornamental horticulture and landscaping. Later, there was an opportunity and I seized it – but I was far from being as passionate as I am today. That came later. I thought: “Wow, now I’ve really found my passion!

André Carbonneau, Owner

Formerly equipped with three landscaping teams, Jardins André Carbonneau got rid of this aspect 14 years ago to focus on production and retail. Over the decades, the area of their greenhouses has more than decupled. “I’ve reached a point in my life where I focus on what I love. Landscaping no longer excited me and I don’t regret stopping. Some people love money, I love plants! And it’s important for me to sell products that make me proud,” he says.

Finding what we are passionate about – or loving what we do – is perhaps the first “secret” to growing a popular garden center for several decades, which continues to attract people from all over Quebec. Whether it’s for advice, to buy products, or to find a job that makes them happy.

A Crucial Surrounding

André, Danielle, Mireille

André’s second “secret” is probably knowing how to be well surrounded. The company, which now has about a dozen employees, can count on a very solid core of indispensable people. “We don’t really know about labor shortages! We even recently welcomed two girls who left Montreal to come here. I’m lucky, people want to work with us.”

Listening to him praise the work of Danielle, the manager who has been supporting him for over 20 years, or that of Mireille (for 15 years) and Lyne (for 18 years), you can feel the entrepreneur’s pride in his loyal team. There’s also Lisette, who has been collaborating with André every spring for 25 years.

During the pandemic, I decided to close the company during the busiest weeks of the year to protect my people. That was much more important!” says André, who became known throughout the province at the beginning of the health crisis thanks to a viral video.

André Carbonneau, Owner

Another major aspect for André is networking – whether via Groupex, of which he has been a member since 1999, or other horticultural or municipal groups in Mauricie. “In my life, I’ve had the chance to meet and see excellent producers at work. They gave me lots of tips and advice. Helping each other and being around winners is essential!” says André, recounting how being able to exchange with other entrepreneurs and lend each other equipment during the COVID-19 crisis made all the difference.

These days, Jardins André Carbonneau stands out a lot thanks to their very dynamic Facebook page, followed by tens of thousands of people. “Our page plays a big role in making us known and staying in touch. There are even people who came to see us from Beauce the other day because they discovered us like that!” Filled with photos and videos animated by André and Mireille, this page generates immense participation from customers, who comment and talk with their favorite garden center. “That’s another aspect I love: chatting, sharing with people. We’re going to continue, that’s for sure!”

Another project that occupies André and his team is the start of a major renovation aimed at making their facilities more eco-friendly, notably by eliminating heating oil and recovering water. “The Gardens will become as green as possible. This is a project that is close to my heart… for the environment, but also for our quality of life and our pleasure in working here!” A initiative to follow during the year 2022 – on site and on Facebook!



ith a touch of humor and a lot of originality, the Louiseville company never hesitates to pay tribute to its founders: André’s parents and his uncle Bruno, a great tomato enthusiast. The garden center contains amusing commemorative plaques and little touches that recall the family history of Jardins André Carbonneau.

Mireille, a friendly team member (well known to the public, particularly thanks to the video capsules on Facebook!), shares one of her favorite anecdotes: the rose of Marie-Jeanne.

“It’s a tradition started by Alexandre, André’s father. Every year, he would offer the first rose that bloomed to his wife Marie-Jeanne. However, he also liked to play the comedian by offering other roses to his customers to make them smile! André continued the tradition: every May, we put the “sold” label on the most mature rose bush, then André goes to place the rose on his mother’s grave. The first rose is, and will always be, Marie-Jeanne’s rose.”

The “BRUNO” tomatoes
Rose de Marie Jeanne
André and a rose bush
Marie-Jeanne’s rose