In today’s digital world, we need to ask ourselves, « What place does human contact have in business relationships? » Is it still relevant and important in 2016? For Michel Morin and his sons, Étienne and Philippe, there’s no doubt about it; it’s these good business relationships that have allowed the company to thrive through the years. For them, knowing that they can count on the loyalty of their customers allows them to stay competitive in a market that is increasingly saturated.
Businesses are looking for, more often than not, a supplier who understands their reality, who has the know-how and a strong expertise in his field. Investing time to get to know a customer to better assess and understand their needs. Groupe Morin gets that.
Phillppe : “Human contact is really important; my father always gave me this as advice. Emotion makes the difference, and it’s often what will push the customer to choose you. Here, our customers are not just numbers, they become partners, buddies.”
GROUPE MORIN : THE ORIGIN
Let’s go back 60 years ago, long before the internet, long before the Groupe Morin that we know today… Imagine a milkman with a dream and a strong passion for bodywork. A hard-working and determined man, who would one day make his small workshop a multifactited renowned company.
Michel : “Back in the day, my father was a milkman. When he was done with his run, he use to do lettering to finish his day. The bodywork was his hobby. After a while, he opened his body shop.”
The towing division came as a natural add on. In those years, 1959 to be precise, there was no towing company operating 24 hours because of the security standards.
Michel: “My father was able to operate the first 24 hour towing company in our area because he was a volunteer firefighter. He had the necessary safety grades to intervene on an accident scene. Back in the day, all emergency teams worked together; firefighter, police officers and tow truck operators were working hand in hand to clear the scene as quickly as possible.”
Michel deplores the current situation and the methods of interventions that have changed over the years. “Today, every emergency team works in isolation, without considering the needs of others. The tow operators come in after all the others, and our field of intervention is a lot more restricted than before. ”
IN THEIR BLOOD
At 16, they all started to operate tow trucks and work for the company. But you can imagine that they use to hang around the garage all the time. As Phillippe tells it, “At 1 year and a half, I accompanied my father to tow shows and he took us on calls with him. At 8, I use to come on weekends to wash the trucks and at 17, I was working here full time. »
Although both boys started working for the company at a relatively young age, Michel’s sons have not always known they would resume the reins of the family business. Indeed, for his part, Étienne did not want to have anything to do with the company before his 16th birthday. He wanted to become a firefighter; but that all changed when he drove his first tow truck, it was love at first sight! Étienne holds the position of VP transport and towing operations and support (professional, moral …) to Philippe.
The route of Philippe was a little different. Since he was little he wanted to work for the family business. After high school, he finally wanted to see something else, He therefore completed police training before working 10 years in this field. So, why after 10 years of success in his career, return to the family business?
Today, Philippe uses his police experience to be the best in his role as VP of bodywork and industrial painting operations (and obviously invaluable support for Étienne). For him, his journey into the police allowed him to learn a lot, especially how to be a better manager. I asked him how his former career influenced his work today. “I learned in another corporate culture », Phillippe said. « I led a team of 20 guys. I learned how to work in the management of other organizations … in short, I took the best of this experience and brought it back to my business. ”
I took the opportunity to ask him if his perception of accident scenes was different when he wore his police hat versus the tow operator hat.
“Strangely no! » Phillippe replied. « My role, both as a police officer and a tower, is to clear the road the most effective way possible and ensure people’s safety. During maneuvers in recovery, it’s the same thing; we must be safe and effective. ”
Since he was already familiar with the towing industry, I also asked him whether his attitude as a policeman toward tow operator was different than the attitude of his police colleagues. “Yes! I cared much more about tow operators security, by protecting them with safety corridors for example. » Phillippe said. « In the spirit of camaraderie in the towing industry, I also sometimes gave tips and tricks to towers to facilitate their intervention.”
If their body division brings water to the mill, towing represents the fun part of the job, the playtime! It’s also with the towing division that can be seen the strong sense of duty of all the Morin family. Michel puts it this way, “When you get a call at 3AM in the morning, a mother with her two children stuck in the car on the side of the highway in winter time, it is not about the job nor the wage anymore. The sense of duty kicks in, the need to help. When you’re done, and the lady can leave safely, then she says thank you and gives you a hug … this, it’s all the gold in the world. It’s the best pay that you can get. When you’re a tow operator, you do not do it for pay.”
Étienne agrees, “No, otherwise you would be very unhappy.” (All laughing…) “When I meet people and talk to them about my work, they call me a fool. Owning a towing company is having the phone open 24 hours, 365 days a year. This is when I explain that they should not see it as a job, it’s a lifestyle, a passion. ”
Groupe Morin is now a loyal customer of NRC Industries, but their first tow trucks were not (we can forgive them, NRC did not exist when Groupe Morin started to operate). They operated Holmes 440 and 480 on a ’57 Dodge until 1979. Then they bought their first PHE heavy duty wrecker in 1980. When PHE bankrupt and were redeemed by NRC Industries, Groupe Morin followed with us. Their first NRC was an NRC1500 on a GM.
I asked them about the unit they preferred to operate through the years:
Michel said, “I started with little trucks, in fact we all started with little trucks. It’s pretty difficult to work with that! It is very educational because you really need to think. Back in the day, the trucks did not have the payload they have today … ”
“I learned with a small wrecker, » Phillippe said. « I loved working with a platform, And today, give me a heavy duty if you want me to have fun! It changes, it evolves over time. »
Étienne added, “It is certain that when you work with current equipment, such as a Composite Slider, it’s wonderful! You can do whatever you want with it and it’s super durable.”
Groupe Morin today brings together a 24hr. towing and transportation service, a body shop and an industrial paint department. For them, it’s this diversity that makes the strong.
Michel said, “We are always able to help the customer. The flexibility and diversity are our great strengths; when the customer calls and nobody has found a solution to his problem, we will. We can offer a turnkey service: tow, repair and rebuild full fleets. With us, it’s never impossible.”
We have already discussed the difficulties of the family business and the obstacles to its success; I sought the advice of a family who managed to pass the torch to the third generation successfully:
“The family business is great, it can be very easy sometimes! » said Michel. « On the other hand, it is absolutely essential to be able to separate work from family life. Business is business. You can’t bring what goes wrong at home to work and vice versa. Also, you do not leave the business to your children if you feel that they don’t have the capacity to handle it. With Étienne and Philippe, I am not worried, they complement each other. “
Just like Norbert, Michel Morin does not seem ready to stop, he still loves coming to the office every morning:
“I was asked some time ago what my favorite hobby was. That’s when I realized that my hobby, well it’s my business. » Michel continued, « When I’m working on a project, I think about it every day, all the time. When I don’t come to work or I’m on vacation, I miss the business, our customers … “
Michel still occupies the role of chairman of the company. Its role today is more of a consultant than anything else:
“Right now, my job is mainly to give our team the benefit of my experience in many things. I work mostly on special projects that require more expertise. ”
Groupe Morin appreciates that NRC Industries, like them, is a family oriented business with which they share values and where you don’t feel like a number. For them, it makes a real difference. We just talked about the importance of business relationships, here’s a good example:
“We have developed a good relationship with the people at NRC, said Phillipe. « Stéphane, I can tell him straight what I need, what is wrong. When you receive good service by a manufacturer, there is no reason to look elsewhere. ” They also emphasize the importance of service. “The service has improved a lot since Cedric is responsible. You call, you need something, he will help you, and most importantly, he will give it to you quickly. ”
If the business relationship has developed over the years, the primary reason for Groupe Morin to buy NRC products is the quality and durability of the equipment:
Phillippe said it best, “This is the best equipment available on the market. The strength of the products is great. Here, we do not change our equipment every 5 years, we keep them 15-20 years. So we absolutely need durable and reliable equipment. “
I also asked them their best memory with NRC Industries, wait for it…
“In 2006, I was going at NRC to buy a small motor. » Michel said. « When I arrived, Stephane told me he had something to show me. NRC had just completed the first Composite Slider, and Stéphane had the truck painted to my colors. I had no other choice but to leave with it! That’s how we got the CS #001! ” …and that’s how we make sales people!
Mobilizing the 3 leaders of a multifunctional business is a challenge in itself! When your notes are incomplete because you were too busy listening and laughing, that pretty much sums up the kind of meeting you had. A really nice interview to do; 3 passionate, interesting guys, with excellent values. Groupe Morin, I have a Sliding Rotator with your colors on it, whenever you’re ready :).