Ouellette spent all his free time at Cablovision Warwick, the company founded by his father in 1974. "I was there every Saturday and on pedagogical days, and then I worked there," recalls the entrepreneur, who acquired Cablovision Warwick in 2009. "I continued to grow the business, adding new services, such as Internet and cable telephone."
In the wake of his rise in the company, Ouellette concluded an agreement with Videotron to expand its range of mobile phone products. This was not the first collaboration between the two companies, who at the time had been closely linked for more than three decades.
"In the 90s, we interconnected to receive Videotron's signal and redirect it to our subscribers," explains Ouellette. "This allowed us to remain profitable compared to other small cable companies. We were able to offer quality services similar to those of Videotron, but without having to invest millions in line heads or new equipment."
Although the interconnection with Videotron helped Cablovision Warwick continue to operate and maintain its independence, Ouellette always made a point of staying competitive. "My secret was to read a lot and stay on top of what was happening with big players like Videotron, Cogeco, and Bell," admits the entrepreneur.
In 2021, however, Ouellette made the decision to pass the torch on to the telecommunications giant. "Between video on demand, Helix, Internet on mobiles, and new products on the market, it was starting to be tough to survive," says the businessman. "We knew that Videotron had been interested in acquiring Cablovision Warwick for several years, so it was only natural."
"Not a day goes by that I don't think about my decision. It wasn’t easy for me to sell my father's business, but I don't regret anything. It was the right decision to make for the good of the business and the customers. Business is business!"
Being open to business opportunities
Always open to business opportunities, Ouellette and his father told the Quebecor subsidiary of their desire to open a franchise in Victoriaville back in 1992. After the success of this first branch, the Ouellettes opened four more stores in the region a few years later. They then chose to diversify their offer with the addition of Microplay products, as well as cable and mobile services. This diversification allowed them to bounce back when film rentals began to decline. Ouellette admits that during this period he suffered some setbacks.
"It's never fun to be told that in two, five, or ten years, your business will no longer exist," says Ouellette. When Videotron started looking for points of sale for its telephone and Internet services, the entrepreneur did not hesitate to transform his stores into boutiques. "Today, I own two boutiques in Mauricie and one in Victoriaville; this transition helped us to survive."
However, it was necessary to relocate the teams affected by the closure of the SuperClub. So Ouellette decided to acquire two food counters in shopping centres. "Since I was born in the Victoriaville area, when I heard that Fromagerie Victoria was considering opening franchises across Québec, I was interested in investing, because I know poutine and fresh cheese well."
For his adventure in the restaurant sector, Ouellette decided to surround himself with partners. He now owns four franchises of the Fromagerie Victoria banner. "I also have a few commercial and residential buildings under my belt; I'm always open to business opportunities."
Surrounding yourself with the right people
The entrepreneur owes his success in business to his ability not to be guided by emotion and to surround himself well. "I like to start projects, set them up, and entrust the day-to-day operations to others who do it very well," says the businessman.
Ouellette, a born entrepreneur, hopes to pass on his businesses to his successors. His daughters, Ariane and Gabriela, followed in their father's footsteps, getting involved in the family business. "I've never pushed them to follow in my footsteps," he says, adding that he's open to setting up a buyback program if his successors ever show interest. "It's nice to take over the family business, but you have to be happy to do it!"
Promoting your business in your hometown
Before retiring, Ouellette is happy to remain active in his beloved hometown and to continue to meet the changing needs of his clientele.
During the renovation of the Victoriaville store, Ouellette took the opportunity to dedicate a space to businesspeople. This avant-garde idea, praised by his peers, had many of the other franchisees talking. However, the entrepreneur acknowledges that this new component comes with its fair share of challenges. "Business customers focus on their own production, they don't have time to take care of the telecommunications department," he says. "We need to be able to deliver them a comprehensive, turnkey solution.”
For Ouellette, the key to success is to go out and knock on companies’ doors. You also have to get involved in the community. "It means participating in golf tournaments, attending dinners organized by foundations, joining chambers of commerce, making yourself known in arenas . . . networking can be hard, but it's an important factor for success.”
"When you're on the field, you have to like it," continues the entrepreneur. "If I were 20 years younger, this is the kind of job I'd like to do.”
"I like to start projects, set them up, and entrust the day-to-day operations to others who do it very well."
The entrepreneur tries to transmit "the passion for the field" to his teams. "Building a customer base takes time," says Ouellette. "If you sell a cellphone to a customer, for example, and that person liked the experience they had, they will naturally come back to your business and repeat the experience. It's not always easy to get things rolling, but once you do, both parties win.” A relationship based on listening, exchange, and trust has the potential to last and ensure the success of all.
March 15 2023, By Videotron Business