A lover of Quebec, a great publishing and printing entrepreneur, Pierre Péladeau, the founder of the Journal de Montréal, died 25 years ago to the day, leaving behind a legacy that goes beyond his contribution to the business world.
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The current president of Investissement Québec International, Hubert Bolduc, will always remember the evening of December 24, 1997. Before midnight, he received a call from Pierre Karl Péladeau, informing him of the death of his father at age 72.
Mr. Bolduc, who began his career as a communications advisor at the University Hospital Center of Montreal, left his Christmas Eve to organize a nightly press conference.
“It was huge in the news. I thought to communicate with some journalists, but all the media were there. He was one of the first greats of Quebec inc. to leave us. He was important, influential and respected,” recalls Mr. Bolduc, who has orchestrated communications for the Péladeau family since Mr. P. was hospitalized in early December.
Extremely rare for an entrepreneur, he left a strong mark in several spheres of Quebec society.
In the business world, even if not everyone shared Pierre Péladeau's opinions, his contribution to advancing entrepreneurship and the development of a Quebec inc. stronger has been widely recognized.
"Working with Pierre Péladeau was a very good school," says Rémi Marcoux, founder of Transcontinental, who was a controller at Quebecor at the start of his career. I really appreciated him that once we had gained his trust, he left a lot of leeway. I adopted this way of doing things, which served me well. »
At the end of the summer of 1997, Mr. Péladeau had granted a last river interview to journalist Pierre Maisonneuve, who made a book of it, Play to win.
“I chose it because it was essential, says Mr. Maisonneuve, who worked at the Journal de Montréal at the start of his career. He could be tough in business, but many did not make life easy for him. He could have suffered. »
The journalist portrays Pierre Péladeau as a man sensitive to people who snubbed him and who wanted to prove his ability to succeed.
This was perhaps the source of his energy as a builder, to take revenge on fate, which had bankrupted his father during the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Twenty years later, he had borrowed $1,500 from his mother to buy the Journal de Rosemont, thus taking his first steps in publishing.
More than newspapers, Pierre Péladeau has built an empire over the years, becoming the first billionaire born in Quebec. Quebecor World has become the number one printer in the world, with international clients such as Paris Match.
Daniel Paillé, who was vice-president of private placements at the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec when he met Mr. Péladeau on the Caisse's board of directors, remembers a studious businessman.
“He was listening. He was very serious. He asked one or two questions about an investment and those were THE or THE right questions,” recalls the man who later became vice-president of business development at Quebecor.
Those who worked for Mr. Péladeau at the Journal de Montréal paint the image of a creative and generous builder, who was interested in his people and never failed to support them.
The art of mobilizing
“He was an amazing motivator. People wanted to work for him. He believed so strongly in what we were doing, ”recalls Ives Beaudin, who made a career at the Journal from 1970.
“He knew several of the employees by their first names, he made a detour to come and congratulate you. He made you want to get high, ”adds Guy Perras, who has devoted his career to the Journal in writing.
"He's a man you couldn't not love. He was so nice, ”recalls photographer Jacques Bourdon, who gave 42 years of his life to the Journal and who salutes the audacity of the risk of his former boss.
Dedicated to many causes
A great philanthropist, Pierre Péladeau supported several causes during his life, helping here the University of Quebec, there a help center for alcoholics, but above all, the Orchester métropolitain de Montréal, which he saved from bankrupt and whose audience he expanded.
“He wanted to make music accessible to as many people as possible. It corresponded with his mission of information with his newspapers, he wanted to be close to people, "recalls Marie DuPont, recruited as director by Mr. Péladeau, who had also had the audacity to appoint a woman conductor in the person of Agnès Grossmann.
The founder of Couche-Tard, Alain Bouchard, says in his biography that Pierre Péladeau is the first Quebec businessman who did not snub him, while others saw in his company a “convenience store economy”. Mr. Péladeau believed in the immense potential of Mr. Bouchard and invited him to the board of directors of Quebecor in 1995. He sat there until 2009. Here is the letter that Mr. Bouchard wrote to underline the 25 years of the death of Pierre Péladeau.
I was a young entrepreneur and at the time there were very few successful examples in Quebec that we could refer to.
Mr. Péladeau was for me the ideal example by his outspokenness, direct without frills, and business opinions that met my aspirations.
I read everything that was written and followed his conferences on all the forums in which he participated. It is an act of extraordinary generosity to have an entrepreneur busy building his business who lends himself to this kind of exercise.
He was relevant and inspiring, especially as he later quoted our company in his speeches. His right arm at the time sent me his speeches and with each intervention, he had to update it since we were growing very quickly ourselves.
One day, he invited me to join the board of directors of Quebecor. It was a great pride for me to get closer to this man whom I admired and respected. To my great surprise, at the first meeting I attended, he declared: “Bouchard, look at him, follow him, he will be bigger than us”.
Unfortunately, he left us very quickly, without warning, we knew he needed treatment, but everything seemed to be fine. For me it was the premature departure of a great entrepreneur, a great man.
– Alain Bouchard, Founder and Executive Chairman of Couche-Tard
Yes, luck exists.
I benefited from this twice by having on the one hand a mentor and a permanent source of inspiration, my father, a man larger than life for me.
On the other hand, I have the privilege of directing this marvelous company that he founded and firmly established in Quebec, but also, and above all, which will have motivated thousands of citizens, even today, to take charge of our economic levers, which are our companies and our entrepreneurs.
His enormous courage and his unshakeable will to assertiveness are the vectors of my esteem as well as that of my family.
Thank you dad.
– Pierre Karl Peladeau
His hard work and his determination to make Quebecers examples of success inspired many to want to imitate him.
No one is obliged to do the impossible — we keep an immeasurable memory of it.
Thank you, Peter P.
– Érik Péladeau