Canada's 50 Best Managed Companies
Doors opening for cabinet maker
Peter Diekmeyer, Financial Post
Published: Monday, February 02, 2009
Location: St-Anaclet, Que.
Size: 220 employees
Sector: Custom kitchen cabinets and accessories
You could say that Daniel Drapeau's career path has mirrored that of the North American economy. Mr. Drapeau got his start just over a decade ago in the then-red-hot telecommunications sector, but after that bubble burst he moved into the kitchen cabinet business, which was closely tied to the growing residential real estate sector.
"We supply a variety of medium to high-end kitchen cabinets, specifically designed according to customers' tastes," says Mr. Drapeau, Miralis's assistant general manager. "And although much of what we produce ends up in renovated kitchens, in recent years new-home construction has been a key driver of the company's growth."
Miralis was founded in 1976 by its current president, Jean-Paul Lauzier. However, in the mid-1990s, the company -- which at first was essentially a retail operation -- moved into manufacturing. Today, it operates a 125,000-square-foot state-of-the-art workshop. During recent years, spurred by cheap interest rates, business has been great.
According to Mr. Drapeau, the company's origins as a retailer provided unique insights into customers' tastes, a strength that it was able to bring over when it moved into manufacturing. The technical expertise of its craftsmen, which enables the company to produce ever-more-complex designs, is also a big help. That said, after many years of double-digit growth, increased market share is increasingly harder to come by.
"When you are selling $1-million worth of cabinets a year, growing sales by 20% is not so hard," Mr. Drapeau says with a laugh. "But when annual sales are $15-million, to add another 20% you need to make a heck of a lot of more cabinets."
Despite the company's recent success, Mr. Drapeau is already looking forward to this year when, due to the recent slowdown in new home construction, the company will increasingly focus on the renovation market.