The COVID-19 crisis has affected all of us in a number of ways. For some, the impact has been extraordinarily sad and personal. For others, it has been devastating on a financial level. For the environment, it has created an unprecedented reduction in greenhouse gasses. For still others, it has provided an opportunity to experience new ways of working.
We want to take a moment to reflect on a silver lining, a shining example of a business that has used this forced hit of the “pause button” to build and strengthen their business. For this family business that has been handed down for five generations, each generation has added new value to the business in some way. Is there anything the newest generation could add?
First, we have to go back to the mid-twentieth century when the Laporte family were farmers and purveyors of produce. They sold their wares in the Byward Market and other local markets.
In 1960, their son, Roger Laporte, along with his wife Thérèse, set down roots, establishing a business that went beyond farming called Roger Laporte Flowers and Nursery. They purchased land to build their very first greenhouse and began selling plants, produce, trees, bushes, seeds, and the incredibly beautiful flowers they have become so famous for over the decades since then.
Twenty-two years later, their son and his partner, Jean and Estelle Laporte, took over the company. They expanded the flower side of the business and, well, it blossomed. It has become one of Ottawa’s most highly regarded garden centres, well-known for the variety and quality of the plants.
Jean and Estelle’s son, Nic, studied business at La Cité collégiale with the goal of taking over the business one day. Nic states, “I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. I learned horticulture working in the business as a youth from the generations before me. It’s in my blood. I enjoy marketing, customer service, finding new ways to meet the needs of our clients. I love every aspect of it.”
It’s always been a family affair and Jean and Estelle’s daughter and Nic’s sister, Monika Laporte, is also integral to the business as she maintains the greenhouses and the watering schedule, an important detail in their business, of course. Monika’s partner Scott, who also works at Laportes, is now studying horticulture at Algonquin.
Nic’s wife Veronique has joined him in building and growing the business, too, especially online.
Laportes has also always provided employment to aunts and cousins as well as others in the Orléans area.
So, what is the value-added brought by this latest generation? There are a few things they’ve put in place that have become cherished and valued additions to a trip to J. A. Laporte Flowers & Nursery.
This includes a play structure, a great place for children to play out in the open. This is especially appreciated when their parents are at the info booth, the “jewel” of Laportes which is located right next to the play structure. Anyone can join the queue at the info booth and get free – yet incredibly valuable – advice from knowledgeable staff members on any gardening topic, from garden design to floral varieties and everything in between.
One other really important addition that has come about as a result of the “pause” is their online store. Thanks to Veronique’s technical and creative contributions, they already had a number of products available online, with the goal of adding more over time.
During the COVID crisis, Veronique and Nic spent some important downtime, collaborating and building up this section of the website. This is an imp