How did you get into optics? What made you consider it as a career, how did you train?
After completing a college degree in Health Sciences, I was looking for a career in which I could mix health and business. I became interested in the Quebec optical program, took the 2 year course and became an optician. I graduated in 1975.
Tell us about your career progression, where did you start, how did you get to where you are today.
In order to get experience in the industry, starting in 1975, I worked for 5 years at three different optical businesses in Montreal. In 1980, I opened my first store at 8300 St-Denis Street. With a partner we rented an empty corner store and, for a month, we literally removed walls and rebuilt the entire store for a few thousand dollars. We opened for business on February 18, 1980. In 2004, I opened my second location. My son had recently graduated as an optician and I had the idea to put together a group of stores to promote entrepreneurship among young opticians and for them to become shareholders. I started to buy businesses owned by independent opticians and optometrists who wanted to retire in the next few years. Since 2004, we have been buying the new locations one by one. Some of the locations that we have bought we have merged with one of our existing stores to make it stronger. We say that we are not acquiring furniture and inventory but human resources. Our goal is to bring together experienced optical professionals with the younger generation of optical professionals and have them transfer to the younger generation their knowledge and experience. This is priceless. Grimard Optique Inc. is now up to 22 stores, 4 of them with young partners and we have 4 more that we are about to finalize this year.
I have been strongly involved in the Opticians Association of Canada since 1992 and this has allowed me to meet many great people and learn about the optical industry across our country. GO manages 19 stores in Quebec but also one in Manitoba, one in New Brunswick and one in Nova Scotia.
**What makes up a typical day for you? How does your job differ to some other opticians’ jobs? **
I have been an optician for the past 43 years. After 30 years of full time practice, I needed to diverse my work. With that in mind, I increased the time I spend managing the businesses and reduced the time I spend dispensing. I am now dispensing in my first location for 3 hours on Monday and 12 hours on Thursdays in order to look after my customers that I have been seeing since the beginning. The rest of the week, I spend my time at our headquarters with my management team. I work with great, talented, passionate, motivate, loyal and very competent people including my wife, my daughter and my dog! I also spend about 10 hours a week as one of the directors for the Opticians Association of Canada (OAC) and as the Chair of the Opticians Council of Canada (OCC).
What do you love about your role?
The diversity of everything I do including dispensing because I am totally passionate for optical and I would not be able to go a week without seeing customers.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to specialise in the same field as you?
You need passion, you need to love working with the public, you need to be very technical, you need to love fashion, and you need to always want to learn……………..and at the same time not count your working hours. My way is to be available for work from Monday to Friday from 7am to midnight but I totally refuse to work on weekends!! As a matter of fact, only 3 of our 22 locations are open on Saturdays! If you want to work on weekend, please don’t come to us for a job!!
Topic: Outstanding Opticians