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Gilles Soucy takes helm at Kimpex

January 20, 2003
Filed under Features

A shakeup at Kimpex Inc. has resulted in the company founder retaking daily control of the firm he once sold and then repurchased.
Company President André Larouche has been axed from the Kimpex staff, and founder Gilles Soucy will take over the role of president. The move was part of a larger management shakeup Kimpex made “in order to reinforce its position as a distributor of parts and accessories in the powersports industry,” according to an announcement from Kimpex.
Soucy founded Drummondville, Quebec-based Kimpex in the early 1970s and ran the company until 1993, when he sold the distribution business to a group of investors.
Over the following six years, Kimpex floundered and several times fought off bankruptcy. Then Soucy Holdings Group repurchased the company in 1999, defeating a challenge by Canadian competitor Motovan.
Corporate turnaround specialist Larouche was brought in to right the ship, and the company has been posting profits. But the first week of January, 2003, Larouche was given his walking papers and Soucy retook the helm.
Stéphan Soucy, Gilles’ son and the newly-appointed vice president of marketing for Kimpex, told Powersports Business magazine that the move came after Soucy and Larouche disagreed over the company’s future.
“The departure of André was more a difference in visions than anything else,” Stéphan Soucy said. He added that Gilles Soucy’s return to the role of president should “address the concerns of our suppliers as well as our customers.”
Sources close to Kimpex say that Gilles Soucy is more volume-driven than margin-driven as he tries to grow Kimpex, and that mindset may have led to the disagreements with Larouche.
As owner, Gilles Soucy has been in touch with the company, Stéphan Soucy said, but his level of involvement now will ramp up as he takes over the presidency.
“He was coming for a financial meeting for a few hours before, but now he’ll be involved in meetings on a weekly basis, and he’ll be holding the horses himself. He’s back with full power,” Stéphan Soucy said. “He’s not going to be as involved as he was eight or 10 years ago, but he will be involved in every management decision that is being made.”
“André (Larouche) was a really good man, and I really enjoyed his company,” Stéphan Soucy said. “In many areas he has helped us in the last five years, and he did a wonderful job of salvaging the company back in 1999. But we are at the crossroads of where the company needs to go.”
Stéphan Soucy further squashed rumors that Gilles Soucy was only temporarily taking control of Kimpex, saying the move was “very much long term.”
Other changes announced
The return of Gilles Soucy is one of several moves announced by Kimpex. The company has also added Bombardier veteran Robert Handfield as its vice president of research, development and product management. Handfield is largely credited with designing the Ski-Doo REV chassis that debutted on several 2003 Ski-Doo models.
“Thanks to his vast knowledge and experience in the field of development of the powersports industry, he will provide Kimpex with the ability to introduce new products and be renowned in their domain,” according to the company announcement.
Stéphan Soucy was promoted from director of marketing to vice president of marketing, and Michel Côté has been promoted to vice president of Canadian sales. He was formerly the Kimpex sales director of Eastern Canada.
Daniel Chandonnet has been retained as vice president of operations and Guy Normandin will continue as vice president of finance and vice president of U.S. sales. The company announcement stressed Kimpex’s plans for expansion and growth of their U.S. arm.
Kimpex is based in Drummondville and maintains U.S. offices in New York and Minnesota.

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