New beginning

First effort: Cap-de-la-Madeleine

Bonbons Richard

In 1988, Nestor Richard’s daughter, Suzanne, decided to relaunch the family business in Saint-Louis-de-France, near Cap-de-la-Madeleine. She had a small warehouse built and equipped it with tools that were either not available a decade before, or were adapted for use on a larger scale: standard rubber molds, special spatulas and cauldrons, high output gas burners, etc.

The new process was somewhere between artisanal and industrial: products were made by hand, but things were a little more organized. Unfortunately, this combination of approaches would prove to be the undoing of this first effort to relaunch Bonbons Richard. Labour costs were too high and the small warehouse was shuttered after 4 or 5 years.

New

Robert Richard, the 9th child, was 20 years old when the family business (first) ceased operating in the 1970s. After studying science for a while and working in a paper mill, he took up officer training in the armed forces. He became a fighter pilot, but later chose to leave the armed forces in order to provide a more comfortable living for his family. Back to science studies in college and then on to electronic engineering in university. All the while, Robert was working part-time in a hi-fi store and he was eventually offered a job as manager. In 1981, he entered retailing on his own by purchasing a Stéréo-Plus franchise and helping to launch the brand. At the time, speakers and receivers and TVs were a far cry from candy making. In a symbolic gesture, he purchased the candy molds his father had used in the early days, so that could be preserved as family heirlooms.

By 1993, Robert was running two Stéréo-Plus locations and two computer stores (Concepta Informatique). When sister Suzanne was forced to close Bonbons Richard “2”, Robert decided to try for iteration number “3”. This time, a former garage was pressed into service with a disciplined, industrial approach. Stereo and computers were left behind. Several subcontractors came on board and colleague Serge Pagé helped to prepare recipes and production procedures. Stovetop cauldrons gave way to 100 gallon industrial tubs. Hand wrapping and ironing were replaced by sophisticated automated systems that deposited, cooled and packaged uniformly portioned treats. Robert programmed his own automation software called “Citect” (circa 1997) and elements of the early system are still in use today.