People close to Alain Rivière, the co-owner of Les Brasseurs de Montebello, know this businessman to be a positive person full of good ideas that have ensured the development of his company since its creation in 2013.
The pandemic over the last year and a half has been quite a challenge for him and his fellow owners. As president, brewer and business development manager, he has never given up and has continuously adapted to this notorious pandemic. Les Brasseurs de Montebello has close to twenty different beers, as well as pub located in the heart of this tourist village.
Despite the closure of the pub for a total of eight months since the initial confinement in March 2020, Alain, supported by his associates, has never stopped stirring things up in order to keep his head above water.
“If you had told me before the pandemic that our pub would have been closed for all that time, I would have immediately told you that it was over for our business,” he says in all honesty. “Given the resilience of all five shareholders, we managed to get through it. What’s even better, is the fact that we are now in a green zone, which gives us hope for even better days to come.”
The masters behind the Brewers had to make quick adjustments to their distribution outlets.
‘’Our best locations to sell our products, such as the Fairmont Le Château Montebello, restaurants and even our pub, were closed or business was slow,” he explained. “So we redesigned our product distribution network to focus on convenience and grocery stores. We also took control of our distribution in the Outaouais region and on the North Shore of Montreal to offer better service and ensure a close follow-up. These decisions made it possible to partially compensate for the loss of revenue from the pub.”
A Surge in Local Purchases
According to Larivière, the other element that greatly helped the company was the gain in popularity of local products during the pandemic. He felt that the population of the Petite-Nation wanted to keep their microbrewery alive by drinking their products.
“We received a lot of support from people who wanted to help us during this difficult time. This gave us the kick in the butt that we needed to keep going. We also increased our direct sales from the Montebello plant. Our margins are greater with this kind of sale.”
Sushi and Beer
Last March three young entrepreneurs from the area, Lee-Kassandra Laplante, Alexandre St-Denis-Quenneville and Joël Maheu, approached Alain with an out-of-the-box idea. The trio wanted to set up a brand new Asian specialty restaurant with a Quebec flair in the company’s pub. The Souche-í restaurant is now well established and a growing clientele is being tempted by the combination of sushi and local beers.
Alain Larivière candidly admits that he almost refused to meet with the trio. However, as the third closure more severely impacted the management of the restaurant portion of his business, he was more open to the idea.
“Looking back, I almost missed out on a concept that has been a win-win for both businesses,” he says. “It’s the best of both worlds. We get new customers every day and they can benefit from our advice and experience. It’s proof that strategic partnerships between local businesses work.”
Unlike many business people who wish to remain in the shadows, Alain Larivière is a good communicator. This side of his personality has led him to create a podcast presented every week on his company’s Facebook page. This communication strategy began as fun. However this weekly appointment has now become a serious project for him.
“This podcast was a matter of survival for me. It allowed me to feel less alone by having different actors of the community as guests. In addition, partnerships were formed with certain of these guests. I am presently in discussion with the Papineau RCM. I would like to set up a quiz this fall to allow our subscribers to discover our heritage.”
Despite all the projects he has in mind, Alain Larivière continues to attend to the development of his business. In the next few days, he expects to receive new equipment that will enable him to increase his brewing production by 33%. This investment will allow the only microbrewery within the two valleys to meet the ever-growing demand for its products. This is excellent news for these beer enthusiasts following the recent difficult period.
485, rue Notre-Dame Montebello