This year the family-run company, Gérard Maheu Inc., is celebrating 80 years in business. Started in 1943, it is an agricultural company that focuses on manufacturing, distributing, and retailing products that farmers need for both livestock and crops.
The company was founded by Gérard Maheu with the help of his wife, Jeanne Trépanier, and it is still run primarily by family members today. Over the years, the company has opened multiple feed mills. Today there are three mills in operation: one in Saint-Louis-de-Gonzague, one in Huntingdon, and one in Canton in upstate New York.
Since 1947, the business has held a Shur-Gain franchise. It has also become a Synagri franchise. On top of that, it works to distribute products from companies like Dow Seeds, Semican, Lallemand/Biotal, and other companies who help protect crops.
Gérard Maheu Inc. offers many different services for its customers. It works with nutritionists to make sure that the products they are providing allow for the healthiest animals possible. In terms of crops, personalized programs and analyses of soil and land are available. And the basics are stocked if you need twine, wood shavings, ag bags, and more.
The business has overcome many challenges throughout the years, including three mill fires. In 1947, a bigger mill than the original was built in Saint-Louis-de-Gonzague with the intent to have more storage. In 1950, the mill burned and was rebuilt. Shortly afterwards, in 1955, it burned down again. The mill was reconstructed one final time. In 1996, a second mill was built in Saint-Agnès-de-Dundee, with the purpose of primarily serving clients in upstate New York. Five years later, this mill burned down and was unsalvageable. In 2002, it was rebuilt in Huntingdon, where it is today.
Though this year marks 80 years since opening, the company has been so busy that there has been no chance to celebrate. This year has been one of expansion and renovations at Gérard Maheu Inc., and board member André Brisson explains that though they do plan to celebrate, they are not sure what that celebration will look like just yet.
Currently, the biggest struggle faced by the company is a lack of employees. Like many places across the province, it has been greatly affected by the staffing shortage. Brisson explains that “Since COVID started it’s been worse. It’s been hard to recruit people and keep people. We have people who have been around for a long time, but they’ll retire eventually.” There are some foreign workers who have been part of the team over the past few years, but the company is still looking to hire more people.
Looking forward, board member Huguette Maheu says, “We hope [the company] continues well; we hope to find more employees – it’s discouraging when we can’t.” Brisson adds that though they see challenges ahead, they are hopeful that the company will continue to grow.
With a family business like this one, the working environment can be much more inviting than in other, larger, companies. Brisson adds, “It lets you have a closeness with people. The management is at a much more human level than at a big business where each person is a number.”