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Brodeur Owner Vows Return

Published: February 29, 2016 9:20 am ET

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Fernand Brodeur vows that Brodeur Sulky will rise from the ashes. Where and when, however, remain to be determined.

“It’s discouraging but it’s not ending there. We’re insured and I’m still interested,” said the 67-year-old owner of Brodeur Sulky and Pepin Harness, destroyed Friday by a fire at their rented premises in Terrebonne, Que.

Brodeur could recall only one setback on a similar scale in the history of the enterprise. “The closing of Blue Bonnets.”

The business, which has been in the Brodeur family more than 50 years, is the oldest company in its industry in Canada. Brodeur’s father François started it in 1951 in the basement of the family home in the St. Michel district of Montreal and occupied two buildings there for decades until a move to Terrebonne in 2007.

Pepin was a retail store, selling equipment for riding and racing, while Brodeur was a manufacturing facility for sulkies and jog carts, trunks and equipment bags.

Europe and the U.S. accounted for about 80 per cent of Brodeur’s business, in large part because the weak Canadian dollar made the pricing attractive for foreign buyers.

Brodeur said he made about 60-100 standardbred sulkies and a couple of hundred jog carts each year, and did repairs. The business employed up to 15 people.
How quickly they can resume production will depend on whether any of the manufacturing equipment can be salvaged and when it can find new premises, said Brodeur, who just got out of the shower a little after 6:00 on Friday morning when he got a call from the first employee at work, who noticed smoke.

One wall came down and the roof collapsed by the time the fire had been snuffed out. A shipment of jog carts destined for Scotland was among the debris.

“I thought it would be small because there was no visible smoke on my short drive there but arriving you could see it was bigger than expected,” Brodeur said. “It happened at night, when nobody was there, so at least that was fortunate."

(A Trot Insider Exclusive by Paul Delean)

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