Opportunity led Sylvain Garneau to join Groupe Lacasse. A passion for woodworking is what has kept him there.
Prior joining the multi-million dollar contract and office furniture manufacturer, Garneau worked in the pulp and paper and steel-related industries. His experiences focused on the operations/general management side of the business, including the role of executive vice-president of a Chicago-based multi-site steel firm and CEO of a large North American trackwork manufacturer based in Vancouver.
“Joining Groupe Lacasse back in 2010 was an exciting opportunity, a return to my home province of Quebec, and I sensed that I would become very passionate about the industry and this company,” said Garneau, chairman and CEO.
Two bits of advice have helped him throughout his career: To “sleep on a matter” he said, “and thus not feel the obligation to make a snap decision that I may regret later.” Also, he added, “that as thin as a sheet a paper can be; it will always have two sides to it… forcing me to always know the most important facts when a decision or a conflict needs my attention.”
It is his attention to detail that helps Garneau stand out. Also: his commitment to the overall success of the organization; his hard work, discipline and resilience; willingness to take risks; and the ability to adapt.
The ability to adapt, particularly in regards to the economy, has been critical to the Canadian firm. Garneau noted that one of the smartest things the company did was to “stay focused on the U.S. market, even when others were pulling out of it because of competitiveness and/or currency fluctuations.” He added, “The company is invested in growing market share in the institutional market segment.”
Under Garneau’s leadership, Groupe Lacasse has continued to be proactive with regards to productivity, diversification and in particular, creativity. It has been recognized for its achievements, including several “Best of NeoCon” awards.
Service, to the industry and community, is also a priority for Garneau and Groupe Lacasse. Garneau has the distinction of being the first Canadian to be elected president of the Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association. The firm is also a longtime partner with the University of Montreal on a student design competition, including a paid summer internship for winners.
In his leisure time, Garneau enjoys reading, exercising, and “spending quality time at home with my wife and kids.”
Education: BA from University of Ottawa; MBA from HEC Montreal university
Number of years at the company: 6 years
Number of years in the industry: 6 years
Word that describes you: Resilient
Business mantra: A small change can sometimes make a big difference.
Goals for the company: Healthy/sustainable growth and longevity.
Who have you tried to emulate in business and why? I have had the chance to work for or with several remarkable business leaders throughout my career, but the ones who were the most entrepreneurial have had a long-lasting impact on me and still are true inspirations.