It takes a brave entrepreneur to admit that the business you’re in isn’t really your business anymore. But that’s exactly what Tomy Bélanger did when he joined Laval, Quebec based document management company Groupe CT as principal shareholder and president in 2008.
“The copier industry is quite old, and the way we were working was mostly toward sales: selling boxes,” explains Bélanger. While Groupe CT, founded in the late 1980s, had moved towards a more all-in pricing system—where customers would pay not just for the machine, but also the copies, the service, the toner—it was still a very reactive business model. As Bélanger describes it: “The model when I arrived was more ‘break and fix it.’”
Bélanger—who has grown up in the industry, and previously worked in sales for Canon, one of Groupe CT’s biggest suppliers—shifted the company’s focus even more heavily into customer service: implementing a new ERP and more automation. “Right now, the customer doesn’t have to call us anymore for toner; the software will detect if the machine needs toner before they run out, and then ship the toner automatically. The customer experience is better.”
“Getting involved in the program gave me a different perspective on business. It gave me some more tools to make decisions, make moves, make strategies.”
Groupe CT also has taken a more holistic approach to managing services—not only taking care of copiers, but also all of a company’s desktop printers. It also offers an archival system and software that handles a company’s approval system, printer tracking—everything in the document management space. “Now, when we go into a customer, we’re not selling machines any more. Machines are the last thing we’re talking about.”
Bélanger applied for QuantumShift™ in 2017, after 10 years of rapid growth which had seen the company go from 13 employees to 140, with 50 technicians on the road, 40 people on sales, with the rest in admin. It takes a new skill set, and new attitudes, to manage a company that size—and that’s exactly what QuantumShift™ offered.
“Getting involved in the program gave me a different perspective on business,” says Bélanger. “It gave me some more tools to make decisions, make moves, make strategies.” He remembers one QuantumShift™ session as particularly valuable—one that focused on personalities, and how to work with different personalities (“managing employees, you get used to doing things a certain way; this brought new facts and new ideas”). The program also helped reinforce and strengthen his commitment to innovation with Groupe CT. “I knew innovation was so important for my business, but going there and talking about it—it really affected the way I see and implemented the innovation.”
While Bélanger is the first to admit he works in a challenging industry, he also sees great opportunities on the horizon—with plans to expand from coast-to-coast in the next three years. “The industry is declining, but our company is still growing, year after year, because we are different. We are more agile. And we want to be the one that is consolidating the Canadian market.”
A rigorous five-day executive development experience offered through The Ivey Academy, QuantumShift™ annually challenges forty of Canada's most promising entrepreneurs to improve their leadership style, inspire their business partners and maximize their growth opportunities. QuantumShift™ is for CEOs whose businesses are past start-up. They're innovative, insightful business leaders. And they're ready to shift a thriving enterprise to a whole new level of success. Candidates are nominated through KPMG Enterprise and participants are selected by Ivey Business School's Pierre L. Morrissette Institute for Entrepreneurship.
As QuantumShift™ turns 15, we check in with some of the more than 550 Canadian entrepreneurs who have graduated from the program to see what the experience meant to them and their business.