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