How it all started
by Nathalie Barbeau, written September 1st 2011
Back in 2001, my father Lucien who had just obtained his helicopter licence invited my mother Helene for a first ride. The ride went well but the following helicopter handling session was not so popular with them. A few days later my partner Bruno, a specialist in motorized wheelchair engineering, was called by my father to help him find a solution to electrically operate the cart he was thinking of building. From a first unit, another one was made for a friend of a friend in Florida, then additional units were requested from another contact from Australia who had seen the unit in Florida. That is when Helitowcart was truly started - Just for fun.
At first this game was played by Lucien and his close knit group of retired friends. I think of Eddy St-Laurent and Laval Duquet who had the infinite patience to contribute to multiple designs, prototypes and tests. These two created the first marketing tools to help Lucien and were for a long time the only ones believing in this venture.
From left to right: Laval Duquet, Eddy St-Laurent, Lucien Barbeau, Francois Dorval
It was on a Saturday morning in August 2004 that Eddy first convinced me of the value of this endeavour (I had up to then wished my father would take to more simple retirement projects) and then strategically followed in the same conversation by convincing me to get involved by helping my father with customer service as incoming internet requests were now a seven days a week affair coming from all continents. I now realize that this moment was a turning point in my life. A couple of years later I joined the company full time. Since then my partner has also spent most of his free time helping us with Engineering, IT and website support. He and I eventually became shareholders.
From the moment I joined in my father was able to focus on what he likes best: product development. He added continuously to our product line. He created multiple models of tow carts, wheels, bearpaws, and replacement cushions. All this was made possible with the immesurable help of kind long time friends, of mechanics, pilots and managers from our local aviation community and from the contribution of exceptional sub-contractors and suppliers. Some say it takes a village to raise a child. I would say the same applies to a small business. I am awed by the support we have from all of them. Life within this web of goodwill is a major source of motivation and pleasure. It fuels us.
Among the key sub-contractors that have significantly contributed to our progress Jacob Chenard JC inc stands first. This enterprise has continuously provided us with impeccable product assembly and technical support services. Invaluable patience, care for detail, contagious optimism and customer dedication makes this supplier stand-out by far. The owner Jacob makes sure that fun is always part of the game. I am deeply grateful for that.
In the summer of 2009 a major turn was made regarding our product line: we added Carriers. It was a perfect complement solution to our tow carts. This is when we started working with Fabrication JDMB ltd. This project lead us to develop a full product line with Michel Brousseau and Jean Desbiens. Working with these two brilliant, colorful and dedicated individuals has brought us immense pleasure. The challenges encountered were multiple and kept us on our toes, but the experience has bonded us and the resulting product line is a true jewel.
As I write these lines I look back on those ten years and am grateful for what transpires most: this venture has brought us meaningful contacts with fascinating and charming people. We are still awed by the number of new people we have met not only in our own community but extending to the whole planet. It started as a game-just for fun. I wish to maintain this perspective as who knows who we will have the chance to meet next? Awesome.
by Nathalie Barbeau
September 1st, 2011