Development of the Firm
Patriarch Gérald Pantel grew up in a rural French only community Notre Dame de Lourdes. His academic and language skills at first steered him into the teaching profession. For a person with two degrees you might not expect him to be in recycling. His first exposure to used appliance repair work came when a neighbour gave away a broken washer and he used his mechanical skills to rebuild it. After selling it to a different neighbour the feeling of pleasure of doing something nice, recreating value where there was none and actually making money at it, sunk in. The lights went on. Gerald began his APA “trash / treasure” business in 1976.
Now Gérald, along with his sons runs Appareils Provencher Appliances, a busy depot picking up used goods refurbishing the good stuff or tearing down and recycling the losers. Ever the academic, he has spent years perfecting a business model that works and that his customers appreciate. Every other day he adds a few more lines to the book of instructions that he will pass on to his sons. It is the kind of basic business instruction that only years of experience could relate. A few examples, “Don’t ever buy anything that you can’t understand” – “Stand by your guarantee” “Look after your customer.” “Be prepared to negotiate”
With instructions like that and with most customers coming from referral, one might think APA could be bigger. Although it started with a 400 sq ft garage and now has reached 25,000 sq ft, yes they would like to get bigger. Unfortunately the back room repair shop, storage areas, winding aisles of antiques, deals and discounts is already using all the space and they can’t expand any more at this location.
APA has a great central St Boniface site. It is a landmark in the green building at the corner of Goulet and DesMeurons. APA does a good job on service but almost all its clientele comes from referral. Can you say that of most major retailers who have to constantly advertise to replace those they have alienated? Consistent growth means that Gérald now works with over a dozen employees including his two sons and together they annually process over 3,000,000 pounds of waste appliances avoiding the landfill completely.
Structure of Firm
In order to execute the transition from a small player to an integrated one, APA has re-invented its operation a number of times. The operation now consists of several inter-related business. All of the businesses which are wholly owned by the Pantel family and are incorporated under the laws of Manitoba are operated out of a multiplexed facility at 316 DesMeurons.
APA is an active community participant and has been for some period of time
- Winner of Winnipeg Community Service award, presented by then mayor, Bill Norrie,
- Well known for participation in St Boniface events,
- Supporter of local artists and sculptors,
- Member Manitoba Heritage Association,
- Former director of Festival voyageur,
- Member Chamber of Commerce,
- Major supporter of Flavie Laurent – an organization that assists in the settlement of immigrants and refugees.