Last Sunday, Marcel and I packed our bags for what we will call Marcel’s last ride… If you did not know, Marcel Mustache Pouliot bowed out last May. Just one condition before retiring: a last sale to one of its good customers, Transporlier. I wouldn’t miss that for anything in the world.
It’s not the first time that Marcel go on a road trip together for NRC. The last ones were to Lake George with his gorgeous orange truck that makes all heads turn. Endless discussions on the towing industry, the sales world, life in general… We had more than a few over my 6 years with NRC.
I have to take a moment to do a huge shout out to this incredible man. Marcel welcomed me to the team as if I had always been part of the family. Immediately we created a bond that has solidified from year to year, from road trip to road trip. Not at all the same age, but strangely a very similar outlook on life at all levels.
It’s impossible to not have fun with Marcel. He’s the kind of guy who’s 50 years older than you, but is always going to propose his chair to you. The one who makes sure your glass is always full and that you are having a good time.
And here we go for Marcel last ride for NRC. My car is diesel, so Marcel offered to “clean up my engine” with a little 1200 km of driving.
The game plan? Stop at Tadoussac to sleep and Baie-Comeau the next day to visit the Porlier family! Anyway with Marcel, you never drive more than 2 hours without stopping to eat or chat to a customer – and it’s perfect that way.
There’s a lot to learn from Marcel – but mostly endless laughs to have. In more than 15 hours in a car together, we had time to turn the world upside down more than once. Marcel is simply a one man show. I never saw the road go by. From his misadventures with Norbert to his new retirement plans, we chatted about everything.
Oh and the road to Tadoussac is everything except boring. You know what kind of road I’m talking about. Roads where it becomes difficult to take your eyes off the landscapes, the water and the cute little houses that just seem to settle there, in peace, in the middle of nowhere. The roads you’ve never taken in your life are the best roads.
Is traveling with Nobert fun?
“Yes and no. We always have fun together, we’re a great team and it’s been just the two of us for a long time. But damn, he would never stop when we were driving trucks to tow shows. A 16-hour ride? Norbert stops once to fill up on fuel, buy a bag of popcorn – because that’s his breakfast, lunch and dinner – and off we go! I, on the other hand, need to stretch, take the time to have a good meal check if I’m still a boy!“
Marcel to English translation
Check if I’m still a boy = go to the bathroom
If you ever took a long car or truck ride with Norbert, you know what Marcel is talking about… 😛
And with Marcel, we don’t have a quick bite on the go. Nope we’re more civilized than that as Marcel would say. And as it is Marcel’s last trip, we took our time just the way he wanted.
The first thing to know when traveling with Marcel is that you will never need a GPS. In 35 years of representation for NRC, in addition to his 15 other years as a representative in the food industry, Marcel has traveled from one end of Quebec to the other on more than one occasion.
For a girl under 30, GPS is critical. But with Marcel, I never thought of using it. He does not gives you directions according to the street names, he directs you with the restaurant at the corner of the ferry street, the Charlevoix garage, the big red house on the top of the hill… We did not get lost once in 3 days, in more than 1200 km. 50 years on the road can’t be replaced.
What was your favorite tow show?
“It’s hard to pick just one… The New Hampshire shows with Norbert back in the days, it was really fun. Florida shows too. We arrived with 2 trucks and came back with nothing! The challenge to sell the equipment directly at the show, I loved that! Other than that, every year in Baltimore, I think this is where we have the most fun. We see everyone again, we talk about tow trucks for 4 days and have lots of fun. Family dinner on Saturdays with the NRCFAMILY is always nice.“
Along the way we pass garages, businesses and Marcel tells me who works there, what he sold and a couple of funny stories. He is an encyclopedia of NRC and the towing industry.
Did you sell the snow plows Norbert use to make?
“Yeah, I sold some! Everything Norbert made, I sold. I always loved being a rep for NRC because Norbert always made good products. All he created was smart and well done. “
An inventor who makes amazing products and a passionate salesperson is definitely the winning recipe for building a strong business with a solid reputation.
5 hours of driving and a ferry later, we had arrived at our destination for the night! First thing we do? Have a drink while enjoying the view. Marcel knows as much as I do how to appreciate a nice moment. A dinner with seafood to spoil us and a good night’s sleep to be in shape for Transporlier.
The next morning, we meet for another 2 hours of road, heading to Transporlier!
How was it being a rep for NRC in the early days?
“You really had to knock on doors to make yourself known. We were nobody back then. There were months when we had 4 exhibitions booked, one per weekend. Norbert and I did them all, we did everything to make ourselves known. “
… And they put NRC on the map!
“Never have I ever not want to pick the phone for a customer. Being a representative is what I love to do the most in the world. I’ve always been happy at NRC, never wanted to quit.“
At Transporlier, we were warmly welcomed by Daniel, David and Marie-Ève Porlier. Always nice to see a great family business with good values. A quick visit to the garage, just to see what a team of enthusiasts they are and how well we work at Porlier. They recently acquired new offices; a superb space that leaves them the care of growing and continuing to develop their expertise. The best part of all this? Marie-Ève Porlier, who practiced law for many years, has decided to return to her hometown and join the family business. Daniel, David and Marie-Ève are the perfect example of a family business that operates using each other’s strengths.
In Baie-Comeau and even as far as Labrador, Transporlier is THE reference in heavy duty towing. And they have managed to keep it that way for 40 years with fair prices, impeccable service and incomparable expertise. By only doing heavy towing, you quickly become specialized and recognized.
We were there to sign the contract for the company’s very first rotator, a CSR50.
David is definitely excited to get a rotator. He talks to me about how it will be handy for the kind of unique accident he encounters, like the last time he had to get the tires out of the water. “It will definitely simplify my job and allow us to be more efficient and clear the lanes faster.” – David
Of course the Porlier were going to buy their rotator from their longtime representative, the famous Marcel.
We rewarded ourselves with a good Bloody Cesar (Marcel’s new passion) on the waterside.
For dinner, we asked 2-3 people from the region to give us suggestions. Our first choice was unfortunately closed, so we ended up at Chez Mathilde, a rather fancy little restaurant in Tadoussac which had been warmly recommended to us. Marcel is always open to try new things. But it would be safe to say that Marcel didn’t really haven’t eaten his fill. I loved it, Marcel would definitely have had a bag of chips instead.
One last night of sleep and we head home! Not without making a few stops first…
First stop, breakfast with another NRC retiree – it’s kinf of a funny coincidence, but Alain Perron, retired for just under a year from NRC, was camping in Saint-Siméon. The magic of social media as Marcel would say … So we met for breakfast “at the little restaurant on the corner of the ferry street.”
Alain and his wife are the perfect retired couple – smiling, relaxed, with plenty of vacation plans in their heads. Retirement definitely looks good on Alain!
It’s time to go! Next stop, NRC Lévis! We’re going to have a beer with the team for Marcel’s retirement.
Bruno welcomed us like the celebrity we are, as he should (I had asked him to do that). Another meal at the restaurant then we come back to the shop for a Bud with the guys. The last opportunity to listen to Marcel’s stories… He still promised to come back to see the team for fun.
We came back on Tuesday evening, a little tired but very happy with our road trip.
Marcel is changing the covering of his house this week. Afterwards, renovation of the bathroom and kitchen. He also has some inventive projects to work on … Anyway, don’t worry about him, he’ll keep himself busy.
When you put a job at the center of your life and passions for 35 years, it’s not easy to let go. But Marcel made NRC history like no other and definitely earned his retirement.
I am happy and full of gratitude to have had the chance to take this last trip with Marcel. The amount of knowledge and history this man has given me… I have immeasurable respect for Marcel. No one can ever replace him. Forever a founding member of #NRCFAMILY. Enjoy retirement Marcel!