Innov8: There They Grow Again

October 9, 2019

BRITISH COLUMBIA – Innov8 Digital Solutions Inc. is growing. Again.

President Andre Brosseau hasn’t slowed down since purchasing Lakeside Office Systems in Kelowna back in 2013. Innov8 is now BC’s largest independently owned and operated office equipment sales and service organization with over 60 employees and offices in Kelowna, Kamloops, Victoria, Nanaimo, Courtenay and Campbell River.

Innov8 President Andre Brosseau

Innov8 President Andre Brosseau

They’ve just expanded their head office at 809 Finns Road in Kelowna from 5,000 to over 8,500 square feet, adding additional showroom space in part to highlight their new line of wide-format printers from OCÉ (a division of Canon), in addition to product lines from Canon, Lexmark, HP and Sharp.

Catering To Building Professionals

The new Océ ColourWave series is designed specifically for architects, engineers and construction companies and retail for printing out full-colour building plans, diagrams and posters.
“We’re going to focus hard on that,” he says. “They’re not the cheapest units, but they are extremely reliable and cost-effective for the right clients.”

Reliability and hard work are Brosseau’s trademarks, something he earned a reputation for when he partnered in an office equipment business in Red Deer, Alberta, at age 29. He sold his interest in the company in 2013, the same year he bought Lakeside.

The new Océ ColourWave series is designed specifically for architects, engineers and construction companies and retail for printing out full-colour building plans, diagrams and posters.

Brosseau has a deep appreciation for the relationships that have helped him grow as a person and as a company, and the trust people have put in him. He is committed to passing that on to his staff and clients.

“People who believed in me took a chance, too,” he says, recalling his first days in business. “Everybody said we’d fail. . .that we’d never start a business like this from scratch and be successful. But we did, because we never gave up.”

In those early days, Brosseau was the last guy to get paid.

“I was bailing hay for $8 an hour after work just so I could pay my bills,” he says. “I drove the oldest piece of junk truck, and I remember looking in my couch for money because everybody needed to get paid. I used my Visa to pay off my MasterCard. “But I never missed a payment – ever.”

After all that hard work and sacrifice, his big break came. He had an opportunity to bid on supplying 30 machines for a large and growing oilfield services company.

“We gave them a well-thought-out proposal and presentation which was innovative and creative,” he says. “One week later, I heard back from our procurement contact who told me: ‘I want to tell you we’ve decided to go ahead with you. Three of us on the procurement team met and the other two members wanted to go with IKON, but I felt strongly that we should go with you because you had the best proposal, and this is what I told them’:

“I came from a company called Titan Electric that started with just four of us. We submitted bid with Imperial Oil, they took a chance on us, they give us an opportunity. That one contract gave us the foundation to grow and become a $70 million company which you just bought. I’ve dealt with Andre in the past, and I know his reputation for how well he treated customers and that I believe we should we give them the same opportunity.”

Then he told Brosseau with a bit of a laugh:

“You have the opportunity. Now just don’t screw it up.”

He didn’t and that contract became the catalyst for growth. After Brosseau sold in 2013, he and his wife Katia moved their family to Kelowna for a slower pace of life, purchasing, Lakeside Office Systems. But he grew restless, and says “I asked Katia for permission to build again, and she gave me her blessing.”
At the time, Lakeside had 10 employees and 500 pieces of equipment on service contracts. Within two years, they’d doubled their client base throughout the Thompson Okanagan and were recognized as the fastest growing Canon dealer in Canada.

In May, 2015, Brosseau teamed up with longtime colleague Brent Cartier to purchase Unity Business Machines Ltd. in Victoria which had been operating since 1978. In 2016 they merged Unity under the Innov8 Digital Solutions Inc. banner and quickly acquired Unity Business Systems Ltd with offices in Nanaimo, Courtenay and Campbell River. Not one to sit still for a second, on February 1, 2017, Innov8 purchased Canon Canada’s Vancouver Island operations. Today, they are servicing well over 5,000 units in the markets.

Supporting Community

While the company’s growth is satisfying, Brosseau notes “I’m most proud of how we support the community. The most important thing is to support the communities that support us. We do it because it’s the right thing to do, and we also get a lot of gratification for doing so.” Brosseau notes Innov8 contributes approximately 10 per cent of pre‐tax profit back to various philanthropic causes.
Brosseau loves coaching and mentoring staff.

“Leadership is earned, not given,” he says. “Respect is earned, not given. You have to earn everything. The difference between a leader and a boss is it’s not I and me, it’s we and our. It’s about us as a group. There is no ‘I’ in team.”

He truly views employees as members of the Brosseau family.

“It’s about being a Dad, really, and being able to have a connection with younger people. They need to have someone mentor them, feel that they’re part of the family, and that everything doesn’t come easy. We teach kids it’s okay to fail, but learn can be invaluable.”

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