To enter the Builders’ column, it is not necessary to have a construction worker card or to wear a construction helmet. The builders we are talking about are those who build a future for our passion every day. Those who allow us to practice our sport, who build solid foundations to pave the future of off-road riding. Today, we are shining the spotlight on José Boisjoli. He really deserves it, even more today because he has just been appointed to the highest position of the Quebec company, BRP: Chairman of the Board of Directors.
He replaces Laurent Beaudoin, 81, another builder who will also deserve a column, because the son-in-law of Joseph-Armand Bombardier is at the origin of the deployment of the company in Valcourt, and its presence in aviation and railway transportation with Bombardier, and of course in the motorsports industry with BRP.
“It’s a privilege to be appointed by the Council as the new president,” said José Boisjoli. “I look forward to assuming my new responsibilities as Chairman of the Board and I intend to ensure that we continue to grow. On behalf of the Board of Directors and all BRP employees, I would like to thank Laurent Beaudoin for his advice, expertise and support over the last 16 years. “
What is the difference between Chairman of the Board and CEO of BRP?
The CEO manages the company under the control of the Board of Directors, headed by the chairman of the Board.
José Boisjoli spent his childhood in Wickham, in the Drummond region in Quebec. He discovered his passion on his parents’ farm, driving the family tractor, then on his first snowmobile at 10 years old and with his motocross bike at 12 years old. He obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in engineering from the Université de Sherbrooke. For eight years, he worked in the pharmaceutical and security equipment industries. He was hired at Bombardier in 1989 as Director of Purchasing for Sea-Doo watercraft. The purchasing function was not what interested him most, but he was attracted by the industrial side of the business and the Ski-Doo assembly line.
In 1998, he became President of the Ski-Doo and Sea-Doo divisions; the same year Bombardier entered the all-terrain vehicle market. In 2002, he also took over the management of the Can-Am ATV division.
The pace did not slow down. In 2003, the Bombardier Group broke away from the Ski-Doo, Sea-Doo and Can-Am divisions along with the Evinrude and Johnson marine engines and the Rotax engine brand.
The new BRP (Bombardier Recreational Product) company is officially launched with three shareholders: the Bain Capital investment fund, the Bombardier family (Beaudier group) and the Caisse de Dépôt et Placement du Québec.
As soon as the company was introduced to the stock market, José Boisjoli was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of BRP. Under his leadership, the three-wheel Spyder is launched in 2007, while the Johnson brand is merged under Evinrude. Then in 2010, the Commander side-by-side vehicle came in to complement the Can-Am four-wheelers offer.
José likes to test the vehicles himself, and he likes to tell of a snowmobile ride he made in the Charlevoix region in Quebec. With the different conditions encountered, he had the idea to adapt the ski settings as needed. He shares it with the research and development department and this resulted in an adjustable ski patent. José Boisjoli was officially named among the inventors, to his great pride, because he returned to the technical bases of his engineering diploma.
José Boisjoli never forgets to integrate his teams into the success of the group. When asked about his method, he answers, “It is a feeling of accomplishment, autonomy and pride in their organization. And one of the main sources of employee engagement is knowing that they can create positive and meaningful changes in their workplace, in small or large ways. As leaders, it is up to us to create this environment so that employees can fully contribute to it.” And it works. There is lots of passion at BRP.
The community is important to him. The University of Sherbrooke, of which he is Grand Ambassador, reveals that he has personally and actively supported the Sherbrooke University Hospital Foundation for several years. BRP has also partnered with the University to create a research and innovation center.
In 2015, he committed to unveiling a side-by-side vehicle every six months for 4 years, and so far he kept his word.
Since his arrival, the group has gone from two product lines (Ski-Doo/Sea-Doo) up to five with the Can-Am ATV, side by side, and Spyder. Not to mention the Evinrude boat engines. Recently, BRP acquired Alumacraft fishing boats, a complement to the Evinrude engines line-up. 2018 revenues totaled $5,243.8 million, an increase of 17.8% over the previous year.
BRP also bought assets from the Alta Motors electric motorcycle company. It’s a good way to stay in the running for the electric motor and the new energies. And we remember that the young José was riding motocross at 12 years old. The president has already mentioned a return of BRP in the dirt bike industry. Nothing official, but diversification is part of the DNA of the Valcourt Company. To be continued.
With the Sea-Doo and Spyder, José developed a line-up of vehicles with a studied price: the Spark watercraft and the Ryker three wheels motorcycle. We hope that he will not stop in such a good way and that he will adapt the concept to UTVs and ATVs as well, with an entry-level price without cutting into the fun spirit.
The President of BRP is a recipient of several honors. In 2005, he was named “Executive of the Year” by PowerSports Business Magazine. In 2014, Ernst & Young named him Quebec’s Entrepreneur of the Year and more recently, he was named CEO of the Year by the Quebec newspaper Les Affaires. Since the beginning of 2018, he has been a member of the McCain Foods Board of Directors.
The name of José Boisjoli is linked to the tremendous expansion of BRP. At the age of 61, he still has good years ahead of him in the company where he is the first “non-family member” to take over the board of directors.