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Leader in the air conditioning, refrigeration and heating sectors for 60 years, The Master Group is the largest independent distributor in Eastern Canada. The company employs close to 500 dynamic and devoted individuals who serve the industry from over 20 branches and two distribution centres spanning the Greater Toronto Area eastward to the Maritimes.
The history of the group provides a prime example of Quebec’s entrepreneurial spirit.
The origins of the Master Group go back to 1952, with the creation of Master Refrigeration Supplies to take advantage of the rapid pace of industrial development in Montreal. Under the leadership of owner Guy Forget, the company quickly gains prominence in the refrigeration market. After opening branches in Quebec City and Ottawa in the 1960s, it enters into an exclusive agreement with one of its key suppliers. This partnership with York marks a turning point in the company’s history.
The trend towards modernisation, the surge in the number of shopping centres and concerns arising from the energy crisis of the 1970s present tremendous opportunities for the sale of energy-efficient products such as the York heat pumps and other specialised equipment. To accommodate its growth, the company opens a third branch in Laval.
Master manages to brook the recession of the early 1980s, to increase its share of the air-conditioning market to over 50%. With the opening of branches in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, and Moncton, New-Brunswick, the company’s reputation extends to all of Eastern Canada. Operating under a new name, the Master Group, is now a major player in the field of building mechanicals.
The Master Group initiates a rationalisation process at the beginning of the 1990s, to offset turmoil in the industry going back to the previous decade. Jean-Guy Lahaie becomes president, with Louis St-Laurent as second-in-command and Michel Ringuet as a new partner. The three men undertake a 90-degree turn, restructuring the company by bringing together its four divisions under a single umbrella. While business thrives thanks to a favourable environment, the shareholders resolve to maintain leadership by aggressively adapting to change. They bring in new talent, computerize their operations, expand their product range and open more branches. Alain Fournier, an influential and long-standing member of the company’s sales force, becomes a partner. At the dawn of the new millennium, Master is the most important independent distributor in Canada in the fields of heating, air-conditioning and refrigeration.
If the 1990s were a fast run, the early 2000s are a sprint. Master moves its head office to Boucherville, where it occupies a spacious building (over 100,000 sq. ft.) combining both office space and warehousing facilities. Through a diversification process, the company expands its product range to such an extent that a second distribution centre is soon necessary. Through parallel efforts aimed at consolidating its heating sector, Master blazes a new trail by opening its first specialised branch in Saint-Laurent – the 25,000 sq. ft. facility is largest in its network.
The year 2006 brings changes to Master’s ownership and management structure: Louis St-Laurent becomes president, Michel Ringuet, CEO and Alain Fournier, vice-president of sales. Mindful of the challenges facing the industry, the three shareholders decide in 2008 to form a six-member management committee with the mandate to strengthen the company’s operations, increase efficiency, improve controls and enhance the support given to the various departments.
In 2011, strong from its leading position in all of Eastern Canada, Master expands into the Greater Toronto Area with the acquisition of 3 branches. This breakthrough allows Master to take an important step in line with its growth plans into new regional markets and prepares the way for a national platform. That same year Master is named one of Canada’s 50 Best Managed Companies.
© 2012 The Master Group L.P. | The most important and the oldest independent distributor in the air conditioning, heating, geothermal systems, ventilation and refrigeration fields in Eastern Canada. | Note that the masculine form is used only to facilitate reading.
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