December 03, 2009 09:00 ET

RONA Honours Entrepreneurs and Builders

BOUCHERVILLE, QUEBEC--(Marketwire - Dec. 3, 2009) - RONA Inc. (TSX:RON), the largest Canadian distributor and retailer of hardware, renovation and gardening products has given its Entrepreneur of the Year Award to its most innovative and visionary affiliate dealer-owners, and the Builder of Excellence Award to its best performing corporate stores. The awards were handed out at ceremonies that took place during the RONA 2010 Spring Show, an internal event where new products and exclusivities for 2010 were showcased for dealer-owners and corporate and franchise stores. RONA also recognized two store managers for their leadership and sense of initiative and 215 network employees for excellent customer service, and paid special homage to four of the company's exceptional builders.

Homage to four great builders

President and CEO Robert Dutton paid special homage to some of the people who have worked for years at RONA and greatly influenced its history: Pierre Piotte, son of RONA co-founder Napoleon Piotte; Andre H. Gagnon, 36-year board member, board chairman for five years and still a dealer-owner; Henri Drouin, chairman of the RONA board of directors for 21 years; and Andre Dion, president and CEO of RONA for many years before Robert Dutton's appointment to the position. "We want to honour these four exceptional men who have always believed in the power of working together and whose efforts have paid dividends of extraordinary success. These great builders offered RONA their dedication and involvement, and for that we owe them our most heart-felt thanks," Dutton said.

2009 Entrepreneur of the Year Award

"In the RONA network, the dealer-owners are totally dedicated to serving their communities," said Jean-Luc Meunier, RONA senior vice president, affiliate dealer-owner network development. "Our Entrepreneurs of the Year keep pace with the needs of their communities, and they are exceptional managers whose finely tuned sense of entrepreneurship provides the foundation of their store's success and reputation."

The stores that received the 2009 Entrepreneur of the Year Award are:

For Ontario and the Atlantic Provinces:

RONA Sonnenburg Building Centre, Spanish, Ontario

Owner: Chad Sonnenburg

Recruited into the world of hardware in his early teens, RONA Sonnenburg Building Centre owner Chad Sonnenburg is known for his natural sense of customer service and has earned the reputation of a hardware veteran, despite his young age. At 33, Chad is an accomplished and highly successful retailer who is always looking for ways to serve his community and help his employees succeed and advance personally. This year he expanded his business by acquiring a second store in Elliot Lake, Ontario.

For the Western Provinces:

RONA Home Centre, Grande Prairie, Alberta

Owners: John and Jas Nagra

The Nagra family has built over 1000 homes in Grande Prairie through their commercial divisions since 1989. John Nagra says that joining the RONA network was a natural next step since the company had already been supplying the region with building materials for 20 years. In May 2009, the Nagra brothers built and opened one of the largest stores in Western Canada, in Grande Prairie, Alberta. Their 62,000-square-foot store represented a $16 million investment. With a local pool of over 250,000 people, Grande Prairie is a very promising market in Canada.

For Quebec:

RONA Mont-Laurier and L'Annonciation

Owner: Eric Deslongchamps

In 2006, Eric Deslongchamps and his family decided to invest in a well-established RONA store in Mont-Laurier. The 23,000-square-foot store has a 25,000-square-foot warehouse and a 155,000-square-foot lumberyard. In January 2009, Eric acquired a second RONA store in L'Annonciation, a well-respected establishment with 60 years of proud history and a long list of improvements over the years. He plays a very active role in the community, and his dedication to his customers and his determination to succeed are a great source of inspiration for his team. Last month, at age 35, Eric Deslongchamps received the Outstanding Young Retailer of the Year award from Hardware Merchandising magazine as the most accomplished young hardware retailer in Canada.

2009 Builder of Excellence Award

The "Builder of Excellence" Award is given to the 10 stores that have been judged with the best performance in the corporate store network. The criteria used to measure their achievements include sales increases, profitability, customer service quality and loss control.

"Builder of Excellence is an award given to stores that set themselves apart through excellent performance at every level of operations, but especially in terms of the quality of their customer service," said RONA executive vice president of retail operations Pierre Dandoy. "It's an honour for the entire team, whose devotion to their customers positions the stores as the best in their respective regions."

This year's Builders of Excellence are:

In Ontario and the Atlantic Provinces: RONA Home & Garden, Scarborough (Ontario), managed by Danny Tse, RONA Lansing, Dundas, (Ontario), managed by Jack McKinnon, and Chester Dawe Torbay Road, St. John's (Newfoundland and Labrador), managed by Walter Maloney.

In the Western Provinces: RONA Home & Garden, Winnipeg East (Manitoba), managed by Tammy Kondryshyn, RONA Home Centre, Coquitlam (British Columbia), managed by Tony Cunningham, and TOTEM Edmonton Trail, Calgary (Alberta), managed by Jason Voytechek.

In Quebec: Reno-Depot, Quebec City, managed by Steve Leger, RONA Le Renovateur, Thetford Mines, managed by Stephane Despres, RONA L'entrepot Saint-Bruno, managed by Francis Letourneau and RONA Le Regional, Longueuil, managed by France Mercier.

Initia Award

The Initia Award was given to two store managers in the RONA network. In the proximity store category, the Initia Award went to Ali Lotfi of the RONA Lansing Martin Grove store in Etobicoke, Ontario. The big-box Initia Award went to Robert Desjardins at the Reno-Depot in Hull, Quebec.

"Initia rewards the manager's commitment to managing the store as if it were their own business," Dandoy said. "Their sense of initiative, their commitment and their leadership make them true entrepreneurs."

Employee recognition

At the ceremony, RONA also rewarded the exceptional work done by 215 employees, who provided truly excellent customer service. As Robert Dutton pointed out, "These 215 employees are men and women with an in-born sense of customer service, who go out of their way every day in their stores to really satisfy their customers and support their team."

Thanks to suppliers

RONA also took the opportunity to thank its suppliers, who they consider to be true business partners. The Prestige Partner Award was given to Taiga Building Products, Colonial Elegance, Certainteed, Cooper Wiring Devices, RCR, Peintures recuperees du Quebec, Masterbrand Cabinets (NHB), and FHP (Freudenberg Household Products).

About RONA

RONA Inc. is the largest Canadian distributor and retailer of hardware, renovation and gardening products. RONA operates a network of nearly 700 corporate, franchise and affiliate stores of various sizes and formats. With close to 30,000 employees working under its family of banners in every region of Canada and more than 15 million square feet of retail space, the RONA store network generates over $6 billion in annual retail sales. For more information, please visit

Contact Information

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