As a young teenager, Marc-André was greatly inspired by his uncle who was an entrepreneur. When the opportunity to purchase Bicycles Quilicot arose in 2005, he naturally turned to his uncle for advice. "I went to him and he encouraged me to do it. He then mentored me for about 4 years," recalls the dynamic entrepreneur. Although Marc-André would surely have gone into business in one field or another, the opportunity to buy a sports company, a field that he has been passionate about since his adolescence, was ideal. "The day I decided to go into business, I resigned from a sports store manager position and took the plunge.", adds the former competitive cyclist.
► To watch the March 22 interview (In French) on CNV Radio Numérique, CLICK HERE
Bicycles Quilicot is a century-old institution in Montreal, founded in 1915 by Louis Quilico, an Italian immigrant who launched a bicycle rental business. This man is considered to be the father of cycling in Quebec; he has even been inducted into the Hall of Fame. Mr. Quilico left the business to his children, who then sold it to an investor in 1987. Marc-André acquired the assets and the name "Les Bicycles Quilicot" in 2005 from this investor. Why is the company name spelled differently than the family name? "The Quilico family voluntarily added a T at the end of their name to avoid being perceived as an Italian business. At the time, the mafia was very present and it was frowned upon to do business.", explains Marc-André.
What makes your business stand out?
Bicycles Quilicot stands out for its professional and courteous service as well as its extensive offer: with 7 stores and a website, the company carries one of the largest selections of cycling products in Canada. As well, Bicycles Quilicot's mission is to accommodate and serve all types of cyclists: from the ultra-enthusiast to the beginner - from the urban cyclist to young families. "Bicycles Quilicot's staff is trained on a regular basis to stay on top of the latest products on the market. Our mechanics are highly qualified and can work on all types of bicycles.", proudly explains Marc-André. Moreover, since January 2023, Bicycles Quilicot is the training partner for the Centre de formation professionnelle des Moulins to provide training on bicycle mechanics, the first 645-hour vocational certificate of its kind in Quebec.
What would you like people to know and remember from your business?
"We are accessible and available.", says Marc-André. "Sometimes people can feel intimidated to walk into a specialty store, thinking that it will be more expensive than some chains. Although we can sell bicycles for up to $20,000, we have products for all budgets and the whole family.", adds the passionate entrepreneur. At Bicycles Quilicot, there is no shortage of bicycles or products to choose from: electric bicycles, helmets, clothing, shoes, tires, parts and components, glasses, etc. The outstanding service that Bicycles Quilicot offers with the purchase of a bicycle will convince you that a specialized store is the place to get equipped for this sport!
What is the biggest challenge you’ve encountered?
The bicycle industry follows a seasonal cycle, and most IBDs (independent bike dealers) are owner operated," explains Marc-André. "Developing a network of 7 stores was a big challenge, as we had to build all our systems and procedures from scratch.", says the dedicated entrepreneur. Launching an online business in 2012 was also a significant challenge for Marc-André and his team. Today, he savours the fruits of their labour, which are the result of a decade of sustained efforts.
What is the business lesson that business ownership has taught you?
"Resilience is the biggest lesson. Learning to wait for the right time to do things," says a very serious and thoughtful Marc-André. Like any company, Bicycles Quilicot took years to reach a certain business maturity. To get there and establish a strong organizational culture takes years, dedication, patience, and also great people around you. "Today, we have a team of close to 150 dedicated and committed employees," exclaims Marc-André gratefully. What does he hope for the future? "I hope to continue to experience the same enjoyment of working with passionate people and serving enthusiastic customers for many years to come!"