What triggers curiosity often leads to unexpected careers.
It is said that there is something positive about failure. Until now, nobody knew that 19-year-old Martin Lacasse had never been able to drain the Cavalier he had just bought, but was it really a failure?
The anecdote is all the more juicy because it happened at the end of his secondary education, in 2000, when a guidance counsellor had just advised him to enrol in Mechanics at the CFP Paul-Rousseau.
That this should come as a surprise to anyone in the maintenance industry goes without saying, but in reality there are very few people of any age who, having never opened a hood, would be as taken aback as he and his father were.
Loving cars for their looks, handling, power and utility is commonplace, but how they work remains a mystery until you know what’s inside them.
From boredom to euphoria
Having grown up on a farm in Saint-François-du-Lac, Martin was familiar with farm equipment, but so unfamiliar with motoring that his first motoring course came as a shock.
What’s more, he had gone from one extreme to the other: from a boring CEGEP year in the Humanities to a world that was finally palpable and whose complexity delighted him.
His two years of lessons under the wing of teachers Serge Désilets and Jonathan Larocque were fabulous, if not magical, as he learned how to dismantle, reassemble and bring vehicles back to life.
The Master and the Encyclopaedist
Analytical, hard-working and determined to find solutions to everything, this was the period of a game in which the aim was to discover all the hidden secrets.
Young Jonathan, whose father was a recycler, was a veritable goldmine in this respect. He knew everything there was to know about the mechanics of every brand and model: a true ‘encyclopaedia’, he called it.
As for what he always remembers about Serge, even on a day-to-day basis, it’s the expertise and great professional rigour that, although it sometimes seemed very exaggerated, quickly appeared to him to be essential.
Irritated one day when he was banned from entering the classroom for arriving just a little too late, Martin realised that showing up just on time meant being late.
Being on time means being late!
So he was always early to his first employers: Canadian Tire, where he worked in Parts and Mechanics, and Clément and Sylvain Dionne, whose garage was named after them.
In fact, for three years, this workshop was a perfect 70% complement to his basic training, thanks in particular to a boss who had once joked to a delivery driver that he was hard-working, but that he “cost him a lot”.
Even though he was one of the few DVS mechanics students who never failed an exam, he admits that the joke really boosted his pride and strengthened his determination to become impeccable.
The call from Pierre
Three years later, Martin feels he wants to deal with the public. Saturn, part of Groupe Beaucage, offered him back-to-back positions as Technical Advisor and Parts and Service Manager at Mitsubishi.
A fan of figures and precision, and at ease in personnel management, this stage fascinated him. In that sense, he couldn’t have been in a better school, he admits with conviction.
In 2012, he received a call from former Chrysler specialist Pierre Bonneville, then owner of Vanasse Pneus et Mécanique—this customer that he knew well as a parts supplier, wanted to meet him.
From right-hand man to shareholder
With no family succession, the garage owner saw in him a professional with the undoubted ability to manage a workshop. In 2015, as expected, he made it a shareholder without hesitation.
In 2022, a new phase begins: Pierre retires, Carl Patry, who owns other workshops, joins forces with Martin, and the former owner is happy to lend a seasonal hand.
This well-planned change of guard, together with the updating of the reception area, the customer area and the product display, is clearly a guarantee of continuity.
2050 in sight
Opened in the 1950s by a family from Rouyn-Noranda, Vanasse Pneus et Mécanique, previously acquired in 1967 and 1995, clearly owes its longevity to an exceptional reputation.
Martin Lacasse is delighted with the steady increase in the number of customers, to which his transparency has contributed, and wouldn’t be surprised to see the company celebrate its centenary one day.