The Early Years
On October 5, 1977, six workers experienced in fenestration decided to found their own door and window company. After careful consideration, these six residents of Saint-Gilles de Lotbinière embarked upon an ambitious project.
And so it was that Rénald Montminy, Irving Doherty, Gilles Dumais, Réjean Montminy, Daniel Aubert, and Jacques Tremblay founded Elite Windows and Doors Inc. The founders carefully selected the company name to express their determination to manufacture well-designed, superior quality products that meet customers’ needs. The name Elite was chosen to elicit pride in the company.
That winter, the six partners built their plant—with the help of a veritable army of volunteers in Saint-Gilles—to be ready for the start of the construction season. During this time, the first prototypes of Elite windows were designed and manufactured in the basement of company cofounder Irving Doherty.
On May 8, 1978, the six shareholding partners opened the first Elite plant in a facility that spanned barely 5,400 square feet. They worked tirelessly and rapidly exceeded their first-year sales goal of $300,000 with total sales of $450,000. In the wake of such unexpected success, the company doubled the size of its plant in 1979 and hired two new workers.
Initially targeting the Quebec City area market, the company soon became a major industry player. After five years of operations, Elite controlled about 40% of the single family home construction market, and managed to break into markets in the Eastern Townships, Bois-Francs, Montreal, and New England. By late 1983, Elite facilities had tripled in size, the company employed nearly fifty people, and sales had grown twelve-fold.
In 1984, Elite Windows and Doors Inc. was a finalist in two categories of the Mercuriades Awards—for permanent job creation and manufactured products. In 1985, the company was nominated once again in the manufactured product category, demonstrating the Quebec City business community’s admiration for its efforts.
In 1985, Elite doubled the size of its plant and offices once more. With over 45,000 square feet of facilities, the company managed to further increase its staff to over 100 employees and penetrate increasingly broad-based markets.
In the early 1990s, to keep up with the increasingly swift pace of production, Elite built an enormous warehouse equipped with loading and shipping docks. To cope with this remarkable growth and meet new challenges, the shareholders appointed a chief executive officer with extensive experience in manufacturing, Claude Leclerc (CGA, FCI).
This decade was marked by rising demand for custom fenestration products paired with an increasing variety of modules. The company thus turned its attention more to architectural windows and rounded out its product line with a selection of architectural elements of all sizes and categories.
Ever ready to adapt and innovate, the company soon released Elite Plus, a hybrid casement window blending wood and PVC. The development of new lines of windows in aluminum-clad wood met with a very warm reception by customers.
Amidst the craze for 100% PVC products, Elite Windows and Doors Inc. invested heavily in state-of-the-art production equipment and machinery, and split its production into two sectors, wood and PVC. Thus, two new product lines were born—Tradition for wood and Horizon for PVC.
Elite demonstrated its commitment to the vitality of Saint-Gilles de Lotbinière in 1998 when it ceded a parcel of land over 141,814 sq. ft. in size to the community free of charge. This donation made way for the establishment of a textile mill and community daycare center.
Elite demonstrated its commitment to investing in the community once more in December 2000, when it offered to buy a significant portion of the former P.A. Martineau plant, left vacant 8 years earlier.
After 25 years and 9 major expansions, Elite now employs nearly 130 people in facilities that cover almost 104,000 square feet. Elite is committed to the community and continues to invest in Saint-Gilles, as demonstrated by its office expansion work on Rue Demers in 2002.
Although some of the founders have left the company after contributing to its success for years, two of the company’s original members—Rénald Montminy and Irving Doherty—remain to rise to the challenges of tomorrow. To help tackle these challenges, Elite is proud it can call on adaptable manufacturing facilities that can grow to meet new market needs, and a team of managers and craftspeople who continue to embody the principles on which the company was founded.