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Le Courant

Automne 2015 | 17

Christmas tree industry

Serge Vaillancourt started working in the Christmas tree industry during the late 1970's. Serge was still enrolled as a student at this time. After carefully thinking it over, Serge asked himself which of the areas of the industry did he want to work in. It often happened at the end of the day that Serge was asked to either load up or unload trucks of branches. It was also at this time that his father told him if he wanted to make a living in this business that he would half to become a producer. As well, Serge decided to go about buying half of his grandfather's farm and began to plant trees. He operated under the name of La Plantation du Pinacle. Serge's father had worked on tree plantations and in the Christmas tree trade since the 1950's. Serge ran his farm while working for his father at his office. Serge had now begun his business career and took part in different horticultural shows such as the exhibition in St. Hyacinthe and other exhibitions in the United States. He began to make a market in the U.S. Serge did not have enough of his own trees to sell so began buying up trees from other tree farms. He had become as good a business man as his father. They met an American who was looking for a Christmas tree supplier. Serge's father started in this business and Serge continued on with the contract and sold a large amount of Christmas trees to this American dealer. In 1965, the demand for peatmoss came along and the two associates formed a company and started up a new business. Along with the start up of this new business, Serge enlarged his production of Christmas trees and property by buying up different farms. He presently owns 13 farms and 4 of those farms are under lease. These farms are located between Martinville and Stanstead. He would like to sell off the farms around Martinville and consolidate his production at Stanstead which would no longer make it necessary for the loaded tree truck to go across the town. To have well cultivated land, crop rotation is necessary to produce cereals, squash and pumpkins. It has been between 13-14 years that pumpkins have been grown for sale along with other Hallowe'en decorations. In the same sense, the company has diversified the sale of Christmas trees by adding branches, wreaths and garlands. He has already seen to the making of wreaths and garlands in the operational part of his company but now he outsources the job even as far away as North Carolina. This lends to the effect that the company is able to offer a broader selection of trees. Originally, Beaumier fir and Sylvester spruce were the two best seller of trees. These days, the tree most in demand is the Fraser fir. The tree is more difficult to produce and it requires more specific growing conditions. These trees must be on a higher level of ground to make benefit of natural and adequate drainage and needs a more sandy or gritty ground containing small amounts of clay for better growth. Again, the development of this tree is the more difficult to do but this is the type that is in demand. Other species of trees will come along and no doubt will replace this tree now most in favor. There is now talk of the Norman or Korean tree. Genetics have been so central to the production of these two new trees which has transformed them to produce characteristics of beauty, endurance, and even goes into the weight factor of the tree. However, it should not be forgotten that the development of new species carry with them the risk of disease and the profit margin is often in play. The tree that people look at is so beautiful that they often think nothing more than the tree just grows that way. However, they do not realize that soil tests must be done and verified to maintain the proper conditions of the tree. Varieties offered require care, growth to a specific size according to the species being cultivated. Valfie, also began to sell peatmoss in the spring along with mulch. Mulch became very much in demand for gardening and its use with bedding plants to control weeds. The decline of this product took place when production of pre-packaged mixtures came on the market. Of course, Valfie was capable of coming up with new business ideas. Valfie is also going to try and become a dealer in stove pellets which is a product increasingly in demand for heating. Several pitfalls took place including a fire in the industry which furnished the pellets. The owner of the industry later asked to become a partner in the new industry to be built. After much reflection, Serge and his wife Colette, financial manager of and deeply involved in the company, took the decision to accept him. Unfortunately, the misfortunes did not just stop here. They went on to move the old useable machinery from the factory that had burned. Once the business was back on its feet and running for a few months, Serge's partner decided to take a vacation but during the trip suffered a heart attack. The future of the company was suddenly shaken, as this manager was also the expert in the company for the production of the pellets. The process for making up the pellets is not simple and requires someone with experience to complete the job. Everyone rolled up their sleeves in order to get the job done in the factory. A year later, another misfortune, the factory burns down. They needed to rebuild again and this time around, equipped the building with a sprinkler system, cameras and other modern amenities to make the plant a state of the art piece of construction. Modern plans and a well organized facility will see to the success of this factory. The start up date was during the winter of 2009 with one operating machine. The plant now has use of 3 operating machines and a dryer to take care of the tailings. Sometime in the future, the pumpkin growing part of the business will be let go as their is too much risk management at the present. The company will continue to buy pumpkins in the future but will manage the business around here. In 2014, a killing frost destroyed 30 acres of pumpkins, a disaster like this can help a person make decisions about which crops to keep. The pumpkin industry, Christmas trees and pellets or granules (as it is known in France) are the basis of the business. Three salesmen, five secretaries and Colette, supervisor, work in the office and see to the smooth flowing of the business throughout the year. Source : Serge Vaillancourt

Le Courant

Le Courant est publié par la Société une fois par année. Membres de la société, historiens professionnels et amateurs partagent avec les lecteurs le fruit de leurs recherches. Les textes sont disponibles en français et en anglais. La publication de cette revue est rendue possible grâce au soutien de commanditaires locaux que nous remercions avec toute notre gratitude.

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