We are delighted to reveal our Canadian Industry Person of the Year, Pierre Ferron of Buanderie Blanchelle in suburban Montreal, QC. The laundry operates two plants that process 65 million lbs. (29 million kg.) annually. Last year’s Person of the Year, Jenson’s Carlos Fernandes, nominated Pierre this year, but as you will read, that nomination was roundly seconded by many in the industry.
“I have known and done business with Pierre for 25 years now,” Carlos said. “I have watched him expand and have had the privilege to help design and equip the entire new plant and Mascouch. This plant was built during the Covid period. Through great planning by his team, the plant was completed on time despite many road blocks along the way.
“Pierre is a pleasure to do business with and is a true gentlemen and strong supporter of our industry. This new plant was an opportunity for him to leave a legacy for his son Vincent and brother, Mario and I wish them all the best. Congratulations Pierre. You are well deserving of this Canadian Industry recognition.”
Not his first choice
Like so many who have risen to prominence in the Canadian industry, Pierre did not grow up longing to work in the laundry business. He went to the University of Montreal to study administration. But plans changed in the winter of 1977 when his father, Roger, purchased a small laundry that had just gone bankrupt. Pierre pitched in during the summer as his father faced raced to get the business back on its feet.
As he prepared to return to University, Pierre’s father suffered a severe leg injury that would involve a long and complicated recovery. There was no question what had to be done. Pierre put his studies on hold and began to operate the still-fragile company.
Financial constraints and inadequate machinery made the initial years challenging. On top of that, Pierre had set out to tame a completely new market. In the beginning, Blanchelle took any contract available—and many of them were not very good. But around 1980, it became obvious to Pierre that the health sector would be where he saw the future growth of the company, and he turned his attention exclusively to that area.
In the early 1980s, Pierre’s brother Robert joined the company after completing his University degree. The two brothers have run the company together ever since, with Robert handling the administrative side and Pierre the business development side. But anyone in the industry knows you are never far from the production floor, and the two had their share of challenges to manage at the same time.
The 1980s would also see two expansions, with physical facilities and production capacity more than doubling each time. Investing in more modern equipment led to Blanchelle’s first tunnel washer in 1987.
Issues with Big Brother
Despite healthy growth, Pierre and the company began facing more resistance from the local government regarding giving laundry contracts private sector companies, rather than building public laundries and rebuilding hospital laundries. Never one to back away from a legitimate fight, Pierre was at the forefront of making the case for private laundries to get more contracts. He continues the fight to this day.
Many Quebec province laundries have either quit the industry, closed entirely or switched to the hospitality sector. But Pierre believes in the value of independent laundries handling healthcare needs, and Blanchelle is still 100% healthcare focused.
In the early 2000s, with the market in the province saturated, Pierre obtained the first US hospitality contract to be processed in Canada, crossing the border 7 days a week. In the ensuing years, Blanchelle has kept that initial contract and added others. Of course, more business meant more expansion and the addition of a brand new plant, a second location, in 2008.
Pierre exemplifies a determination to grow his company, be innovative, produce with excellence and lead the industry—whether in his plants, in the province, or even internationally. He is a member of the Board of Directors for the Textile Rental Service Association (TRSA), a role he relishes as he builds relationships across borders and advocates for the good of the entire industry.
Committed to being the best
Blanchelle has become one of the biggest laundry operators in Canada, and has experienced consistent growth for the last 46 years under Pierre’s leadership. The company is driven by a true commitment to provide the highest customer satisfaction at competitive prices.
No company can grow if its workers are unhappy. To that end, Pierre has worked at improving conditions for them, many of whom have returned his loyalty with their own by staying with the company for 20 or even 30 years. Blanchelle was one of the first laundries to cool both its plants, invest in ergonomics to prevent work accidents, and to pay top industry wages. Employees know Pierre’s door is always open to them, whether they need help or want to discuss a production issue.
Pierre has always navigated his path, while maintaining fair, friendly, respectful and loyal relationships. He’s a treasure trove of anecdotes about the industry’s past and present and its key figures. He is ensuring the continuity of the company by involving his youngest brother, Mario, and his son, Vincent, in the company as he continues to serve as CEO.
Seconding the Nomination
Nicolas Legault, Gurtler, Regional Director of Canadian business
“Pierre Ferron is a true inspirational leader for me. As a vendor for Buanderie Blanchelle, I’ve had the privilege of working closely with Pierre and his team on many different projects through the years. His strong commitment to our industry and his ability to communicate ideas have made him a great business mentor for me. Pierre helped me understand what true leadership entails and also motivated me to strive for excellence. He might not realize it, but during challenging moments, his motivation helped me overcome obstacles with resilience and determination. It has been and always will be a true pleasure to work with him. Congratulations, Pierre, for this well deserved honor!”
Mark Thrasher, President, Lavatec
“I think Pierre is a very deserving choice for this honor. I have known him for nearly 30 years and he has been a loyal customer of ours since 1988. It is no surprise to me why he’s been so successful in his career and how he built his business to what it is today. Over the years, I have found Pierre to be open to new ideas relating to new technology and equipment. By being an advocate to find ways to improve his company, he’s earned high praise from his customers, employees and members of his local community. Congratulations Pierre!”
Daniel Gelac, Kannegiesser Canada
“I met Mr. Ferron over 33 years ago at an A.P.N.B. convention at Mont St-Anne in Quebec City. He was an emerging businessman in the laundry industry. With his partners, he became an industry leader in Quebec and Canada, while remaining a family business.
“Over the years, it’s always been a pleasure to be involved with Pierre in the various industry associations in Quebec; to rub shoulders with him at events, exhibitions, industry fairs and all that goes with it. We’ve had our differences of opinion, but for me the most important thing has always been respect. I hope it’s mutual.”Over the years, it’s always been a pleasure to be involved with Pierre in the various industry associations in Quebec; to rub shoulders with him at events, exhibitions, industry fairs and all that goes with it. We’ve had our differences of opinion, but for me the most important thing has always been respect. I hope it’s mutual.
“His quest for quality has always been his goal, whether on the golf course, on the ski slopes, in his cars or, above all, in his laundries. His passion, in all areas I believe, has always remained at the highest level. That’s why his success in business, and particularly in laundry, is undisputed.
“Today in Canada, I have many good acquaintances and even some excellent ones in the Fabricare (textile care) industry and … even some friends. I hope I’m one of them for Mr. Ferron.”Today in Canada, I have many good acquaintances and even some excellent ones in the Fabricare (textile care) industry and … even some friends. I hope I’m one of them for Mr. Ferron.
Congratulations and long life.”
“Harco has had the pleasure of knowing Pierre Ferron and Blanchelle since 1995. Martin Poisson of Harco was actively involved in the establishment of the Blanchelle’s St-Jean laundry facility. Pierre has always been very open to new ideas to improve laundry operations and optimization. He has always been very respectful of his trade partners and recognizes their contribution towards his business in achieving his goals.
“The unique thing about Pierre Ferron is that he is very accessible. He operates one of the biggest laundry operations in Canada and yet is a business partner who will always make himself available to even the smallest vendor.
“Last but not least, Pierre Ferron is a real gentleman to deal, with being so humble and honest. The Blanchelle business model reflects his top class. It is a pleasure to deal with his management team as they reflect Pierre’s values.
“Harco appreciates Pierre’s support through the 3 last decades. We congratulate him for his accomplishments. He is a credit to the Canadian laundry industry, and we are proud to be associated with him and his organization.”
Joseph Ricci, TRSA President and CEO
“Pierre is continuously willing to share his practical industry knowledge. His perspective and experience provides the TRSA Board of Directors with insight into market-specific and Canadian issues that help our organization better serve our members. Congratulations to Pierre on this recognition, well-earned and deserved!”
Fabricare Canada is proud to hold Pierre Ferron up as an example to follow and a bright light in our Canadian industry. If you know him, we suspect you agree. Congratulations, Pierre!
Becca Anderson spent 17 years in public relations, advertising and corporate PR before joining Fabricare Canada in 2000. She was named editor in 2013, and welcomes feedback about the magazine via the contact form on this site.