Canada NewsWire

A work assignment in Indonesia led Patrick Brassard to come up with the idea for a business that he would start in 2004 at the other end of the world – in Québec. That company, Passive-Action, treats stainless steel surfaces through a process known as passivation, and is today the largest company of its type in Canada. Patrick, 34, has won BDC’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for Québec and will be honoured tonight at a ceremony in Vancouver, British Columbia.

While working for a steel company in Québec, Patrick was sent to Indonesia to solve a client’s problem related to the rusting and corrosion of equipment. The solution to the problem involved passivation, the process of cleaning the surface of stainless steel and treating it chemically to avoid corrosion and rusting. “I discovered that there was little expertise in Québec in the field,” says Patrick. “I had to work with Australian and U.S. companies.” And that’s when the idea for Passive-Action took root. “Within eight months of coming back to Québec, I had started my business,” he explains.

Glowing results

With very little experience in the field, Patrick consulted experts, read technical manuals and relied on the norms of the American Society of Testing and Material. He worked with an engineer friend to build the documentation on work procedures. For a month, Patrick did cold calls to find clients. And then he got his first big break: a large contract to treat train doors. “We got another large contract and things just started snowballing from there,” says Patrick. “The work kept flowing in. By December, 2006, we had acquired our largest local competitor.” That acquisition made Passive-Action, with 13 employees and high-end clients from Rolls Royce to Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, the largest passivation company in Canada.

Passive-Action works with businesses in the food and beverage, pharmaceutical, petrochemical and industrial sectors in Québec, the Maritimes, Ontario and into the western provinces. Patrick attributes his success to two things: superior service and good management. “A client who has to shut down production because of a problem with his equipment can lose up to $1 million a day,” explains Patrick. “Our clients know we are always there for them. When they call, we react right away.” On the management side, Patrick hired a consultant for advice on handling Passive-Action’s fast growth. “Our growth happened more quickly that I had forecast,” he says. “We more than quadrupled our revenues between 2005 and 2006. The investment we made in consulting helped us manage that and was well worth it.” In


recognition of the company’s successful fast growth, Passive-Action was last year awarded the Montréal East Island Chamber of Commerce’s Prix ESTim for start-up company of the year.

Passive-Action is an active member of the community, supporting causes such as organizations that help underprivileged children as well as fundraising for breast cancer research. The company also hires and trains unemployed workers who are looking to reintegrate into the work force.

“Patrick’s ‘never say never’ attitude has resulted in true success. He recognized an opportunity and acted on it. He has applied good management skills, determination and energy in building a reputable business that has become a Canadian leader,” says BDC President and CEO Jean-René Halde.

“I think entrepreneurship is in my blood,” says Patrick. “I gave up a good salary and job security to start my own business. I risked everything. But I knew I could do it.”