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History - The epic of a dream
History - The epic of a dream
The beginning - A passion
BILODEAU Canada is the story of the passion of founder Mario Bilodeau. From a young age, his father and grandfather introduced him to hunting, fishing, and trapping, and at the age of eight, this interest truly blossomed.
To perfect his trapping techniques, he began to observe and research the behaviors of various species. Around this time, Mario and one of his cousins also created their first taxidermy specimens from real animals.
Mario’s career began in 1985. Jobs were hard to come by in the 1980s, and his desire to do what he loved prompted him and two friends to found their first company, located in the village of Saint-Thomas-Didyme, where he is from.
The company, called M&M Taxidermy (Taxidermie M et M), specialized in the buying and selling of raw fur, as well as the creation of taxidermy pieces. A section of the workshop was eventually converted into a store, and increasing demand encouraged him to branch out into garment manufacturing, diversifying his business activities through fur clothing.
Interest in the fur trade eventually led Mario to meet René Robertson, who at the time was a purchaser of furs and ran a well-known clothing manufacture in the community of Mashteuiatsh. Mario remains to this day appreciative of the friendship and mentorship bestowed on him by Mr. Roberston, who taught him the basics of the furrier profession and provided invaluable advice for the growth of his business.
Thanks to his passion for nature, Mario developed expertise in the fur trade and a deep respect for the wildlife that gave him his livelihood. As his first business partners took different paths, new associates joined him.
In 1990, he and his wife made the decision to leave their native village and move to the nearby town of Normandin, where they converted the basement of their new home into a combination of boutique and workshop, with the garage used as a space for the treatment of furs. The following year, Mario purchased a new space specifically for the business, which allowed him to triple the size of the working space and enhance the retail section.
At the time, the company operated under the name of Mario Bilodeau Taxidermy (Taxidermie Mario Bilodeau). As the range of products grew from taxidermy pieces to fur garments such as mittens, hats, and even coats, demand exploded.
The growth of the company prompted Mario to invite additional members to the team, including long-time friends Marco Gilbert and Angelo Gagnon. Over time, Marco became the expert in dressing and preparing furs, while Angelo became the chief taxidermist. Together, the two men contributed greatly to the success and reputation of the company.
In 1997, BILODEAU Canada was officially born. As a new millennium began, the company expanded into international markets and for the first time began selling abroad. Sales increased, and their goods were being shipped to markets abroad such as the United States, China, and several countries in Europe. These new markets solidified the continued growth of the company.
In 2003 began a number of collaborations within both the Canadian and American film industry, as the company continued to hone its skills and diversify its offerings. At this same time, BILODEAU Canada purchased and moved into its current site, a building that once belonged to a farming co-op, providing large spaces over a total of four stories able to accommodate the growing business and additional employees.
Over the course of its first two decades (1985-2005), the company solidified its expertise and expanded its various departments, gradually integrating the different stages of the fur treatment and production process. It also adopted notions of sustainable development, all while continuing to grow from 3 up to 35 employees.
From 2005 to the present day, the different departments perfected their skills, became more automated, and grew in size. The multi-skilled team of craftsmen allows the company to pivot seamlessly from mass-production of clothing items to the creation of one-of-a-kind speciality pieces. BILODEAU Canada is propelled by over 85 people creating fur products sold through 400 retailers across Canada and exported to 27 different countries. BILODEAU Canada is the ongoing story of one man’s dream that became a reality.
The company has affiliations with the following organizations :
- Fur Institute of Canada
- Canadian Seal Products
- Fur Council of Canada
- Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean Regional Tourism Board
- Normandin Chamber of Commerce
- Council of Wild Fur Trappers
- Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean-Jonquière Trappers’ Alliance
- Normandin Hawks hockey team
- A variety of festivals and local events
- Various regional charity organizations