At the beginning of the 20th Century, Louis Henry Véronneau invented a floor sander.
Over the last few decades of the 19th Century, Louis Henry had worked on building railways in the north-eastern U. S. as a foreman. One of the locomotive models was named Simplex. When he later founded his firm, the name came back to mind; thus in 1907, Simplex Floor Finishing and Appliance Ltd was born. In that era, business in Quebec had an English ring to it, since we were part of the British Commonwealth. Today, the company bears a French name: Location d'outils Simplex s.e.c.
In 1921, Louis Henry had his invention manufactured in Paris. From 1929 to 1939, the Great Depression prevailed, Louis Henry's son Roger set into survival mode, and the company went through its first major shift: from merely selling floor sanders, it now also offered floor sanding services. It was indeed hitting hard times.
World War II led to a revival in the economy. Simplex took the upswing in stride and began leasing part of its floor sander fleet.
In 1957, the third Véronneau generation was at the helm. Guy, Bernard and Jules decided to focus solely on leasing tools such as sanders, buffing machines, circular saws and terrazzo machines.
Later on, the soaring Montreal economy that prevailed in the early and mid 60s just before the Expo 67 international world fair pushed Simplex into diversifying its tool line: it added compacters, gardening tools, pumps, and specialized equipment for electricians and plumbers to the rental fleet. Re-investing profits into the business was (and still is) an essential ingredient to the Simplex recipe.
In 1965, Simplex moved from its Jean-Talon St. location to its still current headquarters on l'Acadie Blvd. In 1967, Simplex acquired it first forklift truck. In the late 70s, Simplex invested in its first worker baskets and hydraulic platforms. These three equipment categories later spearheaded the company's dynamism in the 80s and 90s.
On May 7, 1979, Location d'équipement Jalon opened its doors at 5850 Louis-Hippolyte-Lafontaine Blvd, in Montreal's east end. André and Louis Véronneau, the fourth generation, thus started up, supported by a loan from their father Guy, still at the head of Simplex.
On May 2, 1986, after Guy bought out his brothers' shares, André left Location d'équipement Jalon to take the post of CEO at Simplex. The firm then computerized its operations, and also purchased equipment in bulk to take over market leadership. In 1989, the company created the Vice-President, Finance position. Yvon Arseneault joined senior management and quickly became a resource of prime importance within the company.
In 1990, Simplex opened a branch in Quebec City. Later, in 1992, Simplex merged with Jalon, and Louis joined his brother André at the head office on l'Acadie Blvd.
During the 1992-93 recession, Simplex associated with rental centres outside the Montreal region in order to lease its inventory surplus.
1995 brought forth another major shift in the company's operations: Simplex turned away from dealing with regional associates, and opened its own branches. Establishing a network of branches in Quebec became the management team's primary objective. Major investments in state-of-the-art equipment made up the firm's development backbone.
In 1998, Simplex had a strength of 125 employees spread out in 8 branches, and generated $19 million worth of income. The company set up a human resources department. It became essential for the Véronneau family to treat its employees fairly and respectfully.
Since 2000, Simplex is part of a very select group of companies that won awards for the 50 best managed private enterprises in Canada. In 2005-2006, the firm racked up a $63-million sales figure, was the 29th largest equipment rental firm in North America, and 46th in the world for worker baskets and hydraulic platforms sold (1,800 units).
2007 marked the century anniversary of Location d'outils Simplex: 100 years at your service guiding and advising you as an integral part of your projects. Over the years, the Simplex network has grown to an inventory numbering more than 55,000 tools and equipment units.
Today, Simplex comprises over 40 branches and close to 700 employees. Louis Henry invented a floor sanding machine to ease the work for sanders who scraped the floors manually on all fours. Four generations later, Simplex still preserves the vision that an outlet's raison d'être consists in helping out its fellow citizens. Without a doubt, this is one of the secrets to the firm's longevity and string of successes.