No stranger to big shifts and creative innovation, Hector Larivée has been sourcing the best produce and products for the restaurant industry since 1940. Still a family-owned business today, they’ve grown to become the biggest independent distributor in Quebec; providing fresh local produce to large institutions like schools, hospitals, hôtels and world-renown restaurants. That is…until COVID-19 shut down nearly every organization they served.
Though the leadership team was understandably shocked at losing nearly 85% of their business within days, they were quick to bounce back and rally their troops. From packing to marketing, they brought everyone to the table to brainstorm ideas and lay out an action plan. Two weeks later, they had repurposed their entire delivery infrastructure and were collaborating with multiple local producers to reduce waste, support regional non-profits, dramatically widen their range of products, and deliver much-needed food right to people’s quarantined doors.
Today, the company’s resourceful employees and 70-truck fleet are hard at work keeping people safe and fed. And while the tight-knit team always knew they could deal with adversity, it’s given them a renewed sense of confidence in their strength and resilience.
“We’ve been adapting so quickly every day with a reduced team and a market we know nothing about. And I think we’ve pulled it off. If anything, that’s what I’m proudest of: we started with nothing and managed to make it this far within two weeks.”
Representative of major accounts
Despite the uncertainty that lies ahead, one thing is clear to the entire Hector Larivée team: they won’t be returning to business as usual after this. And according to Jessica, that’s perfectly okay.
” After the crisis, I think we’ll all be different people. We’ll be in business differently. “
Her one piece of advice for others looking to adapt to these strange times? Don’t stay too entrenched in the fear, heaviness and negativity. Dramatic disruptions, though understandably scary and destabilizing, have always opened the door to new markets. The key is to pay attention, act quickly and innovate.