GATINEAU, QC — Nelson Lachance was honored as a QPMA Pillar of the Quebec Industry during the final banquet at the 65th annual QPMA convention, held here Aug. 16-18. Mr. Lachance’s look back at key moments in his 50 years in the produce industry highlighted key mentors that supported him along the way.
“I’ve had the great luck to have had great people working with me — people who believed in me and passed on their knowledge and expertise,” saidMr. Lachance.
He spoke to the appropriateness of the theme of this year’s convention, Growing the Next Generation. He spoke about how the produce industry is tightly knit, and how it is through relationships built together and on mutual openness and respect that he was able to grow, learn and work his way up.
Mr. Lachance thanked three mentors who helped shape the course of his career: Jacques Lacas, Denis Lemay and Yves Laverdiere. Mr. Lacas lobbied to have him appointed to the position of supermarket manager despite his young age, and a few years later offered him the position of controller of Steinberg’s Northern Quebec Division.
“We had to work together daily,” said Mr. Lachance. “It was one of the finest learning opportunities ever.”
Mr. Lemay, at the time president of Steinberg Quebec’s Aligro division, offered Mr. Lachance the challenge of opening the new perishables distribution center in Levis, QC.
“I really appreciated his style as a manager and willingness to listen,” said Mr. Lachance. “I learned to treat our suppliers and customers with equal respect.”
Mr. Lachance carried this win-win negotiation style with him throughout his personal and professional life.
Mr. Laverdiere provided the challenge of steering Sobeys’ Quebec fruit and vegetable division in a new direction. Mr. Lachance was allowed to build his own team, as he saw fit.
“I really appreciated this autonomy, his way of delegating control with respect,” Mr. Lachance said of Mr. Laverdiere.
Robert Beauregard, outgoing QPMA president, and Pat Calabretta, incoming QPMA president, were two of the people to join that Sobeys team.
After 14 years with Sobeys, Mr. Lachance retired. It didn’t take long for the industry to come calling again. Thanks to the persistence of Martin and Michele Poirier, he was persuaded to come back to work as a consultant. Mr. Lachance continues to provide consulting services to this day.
“For me, tonight is special,” said Mr. Beauregard. “Nelson is a good choice; he embodies the philosophy of the produce industry. It’s a natural choice, my boss, mentor and he continues to help the industry as a consultant.”
“I have a lot of mentors, like Nelson, and you try to emulate their best qualities,” said Mr. Calabretta.
“I have total confidence in today’s and tomorrow’s next generation, and the future pillars of our industry,” said Mr. Lachance.