Interview with Philippe Charron — Flextherm’s Epicurean President

November 21, 2016 

By Line Goyette

Flextherm, a company in Montreal’s southern reaches that specializing in the design, manufacture and marketing of floor heating systems, came into being 25 years ago. A celebration last summer captures the expectations and ambitions of the founder and president, Philippe Charron. The event brought together customers, distributors and employees.

Modest in its infancy, born of an innovator’s passion, Flextherm has nearly 50 employees, operates a modern and innovative 50,000+ square foot plant, and takes pride in its R&D department. Flextherm products are sold across Canada and the United States.

Head of the company since its inception, Philippe Charron is an epicurean, jack-of-all-trades, lover of detail, and resolutely turned towards innovation and performance. We met with him recently on the company premises.

How did Flextherm come about?

The idea started when I was 28 years old. I had an irrigation company, I was doing carpentry, mechanics. I’m a jack-of-all-trades, I want to understand and experience everything. At the time I was working on heated ceilings with a distributor. The company closed its doors and I began to imagine how with cable and excellent insulating products you could control temperature. From innovation to innovation, the company has grown.

When we’re 30 we don’t know much, but I’m a person who’s always had a lot of ideas. I don’t have a degree, but I’ve always liked to touch everything. When I was younger, I took apart and reassembled anything around me that was mechanical or electrical. I wanted to understand how things work and how to improve them. This is how heated floors came about, a product that at first glance seems simple, but we have perfected.

Your biggest challenge since 1991?

Surrounding myself with good people. When you have good ideas and a good project, you can find the money, but finding the right people is more difficult. As a boss, you must ensure that the work environment is healthy and helps the company grow. If you are not surrounded by the right people, you should help them find another challenge.

Q. in your career, what have you found most stimulating?

Doing things differently. For me, things deserve to be made once and well, so that they last a long time. The most stimulating thing about it is the creativity. It’s not easy to step away from the usual way of doing things. A constant for me in my career is the win-win relationship. To last, it must be fair and equitable. We must also adapt and innovate.

Technological change propels us towards new business models and enables us to do things differently. When I started my business, we had two or three models. You would have a showroom, exhibit at trade shows, and publish new product releases in magazines. Today, the options are much greater, and visibility is more sharply defined than ever. The customer approach has changed. It’s a big challenge for companies to have effective strategies in a world in motion, the changes are very fast. Today in a marketing department you need a specialist in social media, an internet expert, etc., all specialties that did not exist 20 years ago.

How do you combine your personal life with your life as an entrepreneur?

My starting point is to have fun. I’m the same person in my private life and at work. I organized the company celebration in detail: the guests, the presence of all employees, the sound, the food, even the arrival of the full moon over the scene at the beginning of the show. Moving to the country, I built our home with my wife. We chose the materials, built the house, moved onto the land. We did everything. Here too it is important to create and innovate.

I don’t have a chance to read as much as I’d like, but I travel a bit and again I give myself to it completely. Two years ago, my wife and I made it to the Everest base camp. Last summer, 11 days in the fjords of Greenland completely on our own. We are currently preparing a trip in the outlying islands of Indonesia in a schooner. Cellphones don’t fit into these places. You have to disconnect. I prefer adventure travel over tours, it’s more demanding but much better for clearing your head.

Your children (two girls and a boy) attended the celebration marking the company’s first 25 years. Part of your succession plan?

A. No, unlike many entrepreneurs I don’t have a family succession plan. I think I was lucky not to have been left anything. I was able to grow with my company. It’s a big responsibility to take someone else’s place. If my father had started the business 30 years ago, I’m not sure I would have taken his place. To my children I say that the important thing is to do what you like, to choose to be happy.

If I had gone to university or if I had technical training and formal business management training, I would have probably been less on my own. Fortunately, there are business groups that help us deal with challenges, to give it our best shot. A few years ago I took entrepreneurship courses to improve my management skills and learn to be a better coach. In the process I  learned that my ideas were just as good as other people’s. These courses gave me confidence and leadership skills. I’d like my children to experience this on their own, which will give them confidence and a desire to do better.

Line Goyette is Managing Editor of EIN; linegoyette@kerrwil.com. Learn more about Flextherm: www.flextherm.com/en.

 

Related Articles


Latest Articles

  • Video: LEDVANCE Lightpoint Learning Facility

    Video: LEDVANCE Lightpoint Learning Facility

    February 23, 2024 LIGHTPOINT Studio & Showroom, the brand-new corporate classroom training facility, located at their national customer service and sales center (NCSSC) in Westfield, IN. Go HERE for more information Read More…

  • How Effective Communication Reduces Plant Hazards

    How Effective Communication Reduces Plant Hazards

    February 23, 2024 By Rick Farrell, President, PlantTours In plant operations, the margin for error is notoriously slim. The smallest oversight, a single misinterpreted instruction, or an unnoticed alert can be the difference between smooth operations and catastrophic failures. While advanced technologies and protocols play an undeniable part in ensuring safety, the bedrock upon which… Read More…

  • A Guide To The Most Essential Hand Tools for Electricians

    A Guide To The Most Essential Hand Tools for Electricians

    February 22, 2024 By Jonard Tools It is currently a great time to be an electrician- however, you’ll need the right hand tools for the job. In this article Jonard Tools highlight the most essential hand tools for electrical work, as well as dive into the specifics of how they are utilized and why they’re… Read More…

  • New Research on Smart Home Technology and Market Trends

    New Research on Smart Home Technology and Market Trends

    February 22, 2024 AI-driven features in home energy management and security systems excite more than half of the current smart home users, concludes new research exploring the perceptions, preferences, and reservations of residential renters and owners regarding the adoption and usage of smart home technologies. However, the survey also highlights data privacy concerns and high… Read More…


Changing Scene

  • LEDVANCE Canada Welcomes Cristiano Konofal as National Account Manager

    LEDVANCE Canada Welcomes Cristiano Konofal as National Account Manager

    February 26, 2024 LEDVANCE Canada has introduced Cristiano Konofal as their National Account Manager. “I am thrilled to announce the return of Cristiano Konofal as a National Account Manager. Cristiano has extensive experience working with our customer base and has technical skills that will be an asset to our team. We look forward to seeing… Read More…

  • Government of Canada Invests in TDG Transit Design Group

    Government of Canada Invests in TDG Transit Design Group

    February 23, 2024 The Governemnt of Canada has announced a FedDev Ontario investment of over $1.6 million for TDG Transit Design Group, a manufacturer and designer of made-in-Canada, energy-efficient LED lighting systems for the global rail transit industry. Through this investment, TDG Transit Design Group will adopt new equipment at its newly expanded 10,000-square-foot facility… Read More…

  • Alberta to Invest in Apprenticeship Seats Through 2024 Budget

    Alberta to Invest in Apprenticeship Seats Through 2024 Budget

    February 23, 2024 Through their Budget 2024, Alberta’s government would invest an additional $24 million per year over the next three years to create 3,200 apprenticeship seats at 11 post-secondary institutions across the province. The new investment would bring the total funding through the Apprenticeship Learning Grant for the 2024-25 academic year to $78 million…. Read More…

  • PataBid and City Electric Supply Introduce Estimating Software Promotion

    PataBid and City Electric Supply Introduce Estimating Software Promotion

    February 23, 2024  City Electric Supply Corporation CA and PataBid have joined forces to offer our mutual customers an exclusive discount on Quantify electrical estimating software.  Sign up for a free trial and link your CES account to your PataBid Quantify account to unlock this special offer. If you’re not registered with CES yet, drop by… Read More…