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  1. Reclusive billionaire Robert Miller built a business empire far from the public eye. Now, a bitter divorce has thrown his legacy into question. By Joe Castaldo From Canadian Business magazine, September 27, 2010 http://www.canadianbusiness.com/managing/strategy/article.jsp?content=20100927_10022_10022&page=1 To say Robert Miller is a reluctant interview is a grand understatement. He has avoided attention his entire career, and there are no doubt countless activities he would much rather be doing right now than standing in his opulent office with a reporter. He has previously given a single media interview since co-founding Future Electronics Inc., a multinational distributor of electronic components based in Pointe-Claire, Que., that generates nearly $4 billion in revenue each year. Miller is the sole owner. He has never authorized a picture of himself to be published, and his name is rarely, if ever, attached to his extensive charity work. Miller does not do public appearances. He will never be seen at a ribbon-cutting ceremony or posing with an oversized novelty cheque. His desire for privacy has been his most identifiable trait — aside from his wealth. This magazine estimated his net worth last year at $1.19 billion. Forbes magazine valued him at US$2.5 billion. In the absence of any visible public image, the one surrounding Miller is that of an eccentric billionaire recluse. But now he has welcomed a reporter into his office, extending a large hand and wearing a warm smile. He is a tall, lanky man with a slightly stooped posture, sporting a pair of chunky black orthopedic shoes and rimless glasses. At 65, his hair is tinged with grey. He says he would like to write a book about Future Electronics some day. "It's an amazing story," he says in a gravelly baritone. "It could fill 600, 700 pages." The meeting comes at a time when the comfortable, profitable obscurity in which both Miller and his company have operated is threatened. He is in the midst of a long-running and acrimonious divorce proceeding with his ex-wife, Margaret Antonier, which has thrown this most private of men and his business empire into an unflattering spotlight. The pair was married for nearly 38 years before Miller filed for divorce in 2005. Assets likely totalling hundreds of millions of dollars, if not billions, are at stake, but the exact details of the proceedings are sealed in a Montreal court. The legal battles do not end there. In June, Miller filed lawsuits in Florida and Montreal against Antonier and the real estate development company they co-own, Miromar Development Inc. He is alleging Antonier and another executive are shutting him out of the company, and have even siphoned money from the firm. Antonier's lawyers, meanwhile, have accused Miller of "horrendous personal behaviour," the specifics of which are outlined in a filing Miller's lawyers have requested the court keep sealed. A Florida newspaper picked up on the case, followed by the Journal de Montreal, which splashed a picture of Miller across its front page, the first photo of him ever published. What it all means for the business empire he built remains to be seen. For Miller himself, it means reluctantly inching from the shadows to take hold of his public image. But that image is anything but simple. Current and former employees — even competitors — describe him as a genius and a visionary. Everything about him, from the way that he operates his company and interacts with employees to the many varied causes he supports (cryogenics research, for one) contribute to the image of a tycoon unlike any other. The more he reveals, the question "Who is Robert Miller?" becomes all the more difficult to answer. The basic biographic details are simple enough: Miller was born in 1945 and raised in Montreal, and later studied at what was then called the Rider Business College in New Jersey. He worked as a radio disc jockey in New Jersey in the 1960s, where his music program, The Bob Miller Show, aired three hours a day during the week and six hours on Sundays. He moved back to Montreal and joined a small wholesaler called Specialty Electronics. Owner Ben Manis, an acquaintance, hired him. Miller threw himself into the job and became close with Manis's son, Eli, who also worked at Specialty. But the younger Manis eventually had a disagreement with his father and left the company. Miller suggested he and Eli go into business for themselves. In 1968, they started Future Electronics out of a small rented office in Montreal. They essentially acted as middlemen, buying obscure electronic parts from component manufacturers and selling them to makers of finished products, ranging from consumer goods to industrial equipment. Manis says he came up with the name. "I just sort of said, let's forget the past. Look to the future," he says. The company grew steadily, and Miller proved to be a workaholic. To Manis, who didn't share his partner's devotion, it wasn't evident Miller had any outside interests. "Something came into his head, and he said, 'What do I need him for?'" Manis recalls. In 1976, Miller bought his partner's half of the company for $500,000. Future operated differently nearly from the start. Distributors in this industry are essentially stores for electronic components, but typically try to limit their inventory, reducing costs and risks. Component prices are volatile, and no one wants to sell product at a loss. Instead, Miller bought large quantities of components when they were cheap. He then charged a significant markup selling to equipment manufacturers when demand hit. Put crudely, Miller made his name as a speculator in electronic parts, and he's an exceptionally gifted one. One former vice-president who asked to remain anonymous recalls only one slip-up in his 15 years at the company, and there were consequences. "Some people were demoted," he says. Miller is often credited with having an intuitive sense of the market, but his moves are based on excellent intelligence. He got to know many of the executives at component makers in part to find out where manufacturing would be constrained. "Just through networking, he got a feel for what commodities would be hot," says the former VP. Holding inventory has another major advantage. "We became known for being the one place you could go to and always find product," says Gregg Smith, another former vice-president, adding that was how Future won new customers. The model works because Future is privately held. Building out the infrastructure to hold loads of inventory is expensive and tough to justify to shareholders. So too are speculative bets. But as the sole proprietor, Miller is accountable only to himself. Today, the product marketing department, mostly housed at headquarters, is the heart of the company. The department buys from suppliers and sets resale prices for Future branches across the world. Competitors assign product marketers to work with specific suppliers, but Miller turns the model on its head. His employees focus exclusively on a component group, becoming experts able to see trends in the market for specific parts. The job is demanding. "The phone is ringing non-stop," recalls a former employee. "It would be usual to have three or four lines on hold while taking another call and trying to close a deal." The pace takes its toll on some. One former employee recalls developing migraines, another, stomach pains. (Future has a medical clinic on-site). Lindsay Blackett worked at Future for six years in sales and marketing, and is now Alberta's culture minister. "Politics, people think it's hardball. But it's nothing compared to Future," he says. In the 1990s, when Blackett worked at Future, Miller would call up individual workers on the floor to inquire about particular deals. "That could be very intimidating, or very rewarding," he says. "He knew what everyone was doing in that building." Competition thrives at Future, which not everyone can handle. "Robert Miller sat on a cloud like Zeus and said, 'Go at it, boys,'" recalls the former VP. "He saw that through confrontation, people would excel." Those who do perform rise quickly through the ranks, and salespeople can make hefty commissions. More than 10 years ago, Future bought massive amounts of tantalum capacitors, used in mobile devices, before the wireless boom hit. When it did, supply was scarce — except at Future. The company sold millions of them a month with a markup as high as 2,000%. Gross profits were so large that for a couple of years, Miller held monthly meetings with sales staff in the auditorium. He handed out their commission cheques individually, from smallest to biggest, announcing the sum for all to hear. The largest topped six figures. Those at the bottom were driven, not only by the desire for bigger commissions but out of embarrassment, to make more and bigger sales. Employees who have little interaction with Miller tend to regard him with a mixture of apprehension and awe. Spotting their boss loping through the hallways is akin to a celebrity sighting. Usually the only opportunities for many to lay eyes on their leader are the addresses he gives roughly once a quarter. He'll often speak for well over an hour, sometimes two. "I always say the intellectual property for Future Electronics is Robert's brain," says Lindsley Ruth, a corporate vice-president. Even employees many years removed from the company still respectfully refer to him as Mr. Miller. Those who work more closely with Miller say he offers plenty of encouragement and room to be entrepreneurial. A few years ago, Jamie Singerman, currently a corporate vice-president at the company, was rolling out a new division called Future Lighting Solutions, which is focused on the LED market. Future didn't have expertise in that area, and building it up required lots of investment. "I went in with a presentation," Singerman recalls. Miller didn't look at it and instead asked if it was the right thing to do. "I said yes, and he said, 'Done.'" Miller is sometimes unpredictable, however. A few years ago, some of the product specialists in Montreal were told not to come in for a month to allow their managers to fill in and become more knowledgeable about the parts the company was dealing with. A former product specialist says many of his colleagues felt they would no longer be needed, and started looking for other jobs. The managers, meanwhile, were overworked and started polishing up their resumés, too. "If the exercise was a natural culling exercise," says the former employee, "it worked." The first time people outside the industry heard of Future Electronics or Robert Miller came on May 7, 1999, when some 30 RCMP officers, in the presence of an FBI agent, raided corporate headquarters. They toted away dozens of boxes of material for reasons officials would not disclose. The company's lawyers successfully fought in court to keep investigators from looking at the seized material, arguing the search was unjust. After six months of media lawyers wrangling in court, the search warrant detailing the reason for the raid was unsealed by the Supreme Court of Canada. The U.S. Department of Justice alleged Future was defrauding a handful of U.S.-based suppliers out of approximately US$100 million a year. The company was accused of maintaining two sets of accounting records — one real, one false — and only Miller and select executives, dubbed the A-Team, had access. The false records were allegedly used to take advantage of debits and rebate programs from suppliers so that Future could pad its margins. Miller never spoke to the press, but Future issued statements denying any wrongdoing and calling the allegations "absurd." There were also whispers the whole investigation was sparked by disgruntled ex-employees, and based on a misunderstanding of how the distribution business worked. More than a year later, Future's lawyers succeeded in quashing the search warrant that justified the raid, and the seized material was returned without having been examined. Nearly three years after the initial search, the U.S. Department of Justice dropped its investigation entirely. Neither that investigation nor anything else has kept Miller from expanding his company to become the fourth-largest electronics distributor in the world. Future Lighting Solutions is booming, scaling up from virtually nothing in 2004 to nearly $350 million in revenue today. The division, which doesn't simply distribute parts but works with customers to meet specific lighting needs, could some day rival the size of the components business. The company is also re-launching a division called Future Active Industrial that focuses on the countless smaller customers generally ignored by larger distributors. The beneficiaries of Future's success spill far beyond the company's headquarters. Miller committed years ago to giving away more than half his earnings to charity. Much of it goes to employees and their families. Miller receives many letters from employees seeking help, often for medical issues. Gina Galardo joined Future 17 years ago as an administrative assistant, but over the years, fielding these requests eventually took over her job. Lori-Ann MacDonald was brought on six years ago to assist. In an interview in a Future boardroom, they explain that when a letter comes in, they conduct research to find the best doctors or specialists, book appointments, provide moral support or anything else that needs doing. Miller has a deep interest in medical research with extensive connections in the community, and can usually immediately recommend a doctor or clinic. He has paid for expensive medical procedures for countless employees, and finds time for hospital visits and phone calls. "Should we get the binders?" MacDonald asks. She makes a phone call, and two other assistants enter, each with two five-inch-thick binders in their arms. The binders are brimming with letters and thank-you cards from employees, organized alphabetically by name. Galardo and MacDonald are soon lost recounting the stories on each page. There is even a section on Ben Manis, the man who hired Miller at Specialty Electronics back in 1967. Manis is in his mid-90s today. Miller employed him at Future for a time and set him up with an apartment across from headquarters. He now supports Manis's accommodations in a seniors' residence, and has allotted money for his funeral. The two have lunch plans for Manis's 100th birthday, however. "I think this sums up Mr. Miller," Galardo says, turning the page. The allegations being made in a Florida civil court against Miller by his ex-wife stand in stark contrast to the benevolent man who never says no to a worthy cause. Miller married Margaret Antonier in 1967. They had two sons, and Antonier remained an active businesswoman. She originally worked in radio advertising, and in 1988, Miromar Development Inc. was formed and received financing from Future Electronics. Miller and Antonier each own 50% of the real estate firm, and Antonier serves as chief executive officer. "I have learned the business from the ground up," Antonier wrote in response to e-mailed questions. "I am pretty hard on myself when it comes to succeeding." Miromar built Canada's first outlet mall, in Montreal, and in the mid-1990s, began developing properties in Lee County, Fla., including an 1,800-acre residential resort with a private beach and golf course. Employed at Miromar was Robert Roop, who had worked at Future for 20 years prior. He served as the company's chief financial officer at the time he resigned and moved to Florida to work at Miromar with Antonier. The lawsuit against the firm states Antonier and Roop became "romantically involved," but does not specify when. In 2005, for reasons that remain under seal in a Montreal court, Miller filed for divorce. Antonier's lawyers in Florida say she filed a demand in the divorce proceeding for Miller's stake in Miromar, a company "she created and operated for decades," be transferred to her and that loans owed to Future Electronics by Miromar be forgiven. Miller sought a valuation of Miromar's assets, and in 2008, he filed a lawsuit in Florida to get access to its corporate records that he was allegedly being denied. The case plodded on until February, when Miller voluntarily dismissed it. But in June, Miller filed new lawsuits in Florida and Montreal, including a declaration from Frank Holder, a senior manager at a forensic consulting firm hired to probe Miromar. Holder concluded Antonier and Roop are violating Miller's rights as a shareholder and director in Miromar by excluding him from the company, and refuse to provide full access to corporate documents. He also claims to have discovered Antonier and Roop engaging in "various acts of misconduct, including theft and diversion of corporate funds." Miller is seeking for a receiver to be put in place. Lawyers for Antonier in Florida refute all of the charges and dismiss Holder's account as baseless, arguing criteria for installing a receiver have not been met. They also contend the suit is designed to delay the divorce proceedings, alleging "wrongful acts" on Miller's part and arguing he has a "desperate desire to avoid the consequences of the Canadian divorce proceedings." That case is sealed, and it is unknown what either party is seeking in those proceedings. None of the allegations in the Miromar litigation have been proven in court, and neither side will comment on the cases. But the disputes and the resulting publicity cut very close to the bone for Miller. Not even during the three-year-long ordeal with U.S. authorities did he speak with reporters. But after researching Future Electronics for weeks, this magazine received a call from the company's general counsel with an almost unprecedented invitation: Miller was willing to sit down and talk. Miller is reticent to say too much about himself or the company. He wants to save the best material for the book. But he has agreed to an interview, provided it is not recorded. Similarly, he would not pose for a photograph. He certainly is not afraid of the camera, however. Hanging on the wall opposite his desk are two huge portraits, one of Miller solo in a suit, another of him shaking hands with Quebec Premier Jean Charest. His aversion to published photographs, he explains, stems from his desire for security for himself and his sons. Miller speaks slowly, but has an intense manner. He leans forward when talking, his bushy eyebrows shooting up when he wants to emphasize point, and rarely breaks eye contact. He has a habit of saying whatever pops into his head. While making a point tangentially related to health, he offers that "I have colonoscopies with startling regularity." He also has a knack for numbers. He can remember exactly when Eli Manis phoned him to say he had quit Specialty Electronics: Nov. 20, 1968, at 4:45 p.m. The phone number at Future Electronics' first office? 418-7701. The number of stairs leading up to that office? Thirty-two. He politely deflects most personal questions. He is more comfortable expounding on Future's unique operating model — based on inventory and market research, rather than pipelining product. "It's so basic that it amazes me that our competitors don't recognize the benefit of having inventory," he says. "Inventory drives sales." He attributes much of the company's success to its privately held status. As a sole proprietorship, it can move much more quickly than its competitors. The fact that Miller doesn't have to answer to shareholders or a board of directors also allows Future to offer the longest customer payment terms in the industry, up to 180 days. "Our competitors can't compete with us. They would be clobbered if they did that," he says. The possibility of taking Future public has never seriously crossed his mind. Miller says he had no business mentors. "It all came to me. It's a gift. I just knew what to do," he says. A strange, metaphysical thread runs through some of his other explanations for his success. Take his work ethic. There was a time he worked 765 days in a row, without a day off, and rarely left the office before 11 p.m. He accounts for this drive by telling a story of walking the streets of Montreal once as a teenager and seeing a red Thunderbird convertible. He knew he had to have one some day. "I recall talking to myself. I said, 'Boy, you're really special.' I think that was a real turning point." He pauses. "But I had just been swimming, and I later read swimming releases endorphins. It's a natural high." He reached another turning point in the early-1970s, when his motivation shifted from material wealth to something larger. When one of his acquaintances passed away, Miller was one of only three people to attend his funeral. "I didn't want that to be me," he says. Charity took on a greater importance from that moment. In fact, growing Future's profits in order to have more money to give away is his primary motivation. "I believe you give till it hurts," he says. Talking about specific causes would take hours, he adds, but he does tell a story of a former employee diagnosed with cancer. Miller sent her to a specialist and ultimately paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for her treatment. "Your encouragement ... for treatment gave me the last three years of my life," she wrote to Miller in a letter delivered after her death in 1995. Nearly all of his charity work has been done anonymously. "I'm not seeking attention," he says. The one area to which Miller's name has been attached is cryogenics research. The Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Arizona has even described Future Electronics as its greatest benefactor. "These people are doing so much," he says. "They're pure, pure people." There have long been rumours Miller will have himself cryo-preserved when he dies. "I'll leave it to my sons to decide," he says. He is in good health today, though. In fact, he recommends the line of "life extension" vitamins marketed by the foundation. "They're the finest vitamins known to man," he boasts. "You should take them." After talking for a couple of hours, Miller signals an end to the interview. It's 10:30 p.m., and he's been awake since five in the morning. He walks to the door, again proffering his hand and a smile. There are still many unanswered questions: the backstory to all of the legal proceedings, what he has in store for Future, and whether his new-found openness will last. But he's closed the door. We'll have to wait for the book.
  2. Read on Bloomberg Business on March 31, 2015: "Stuck in Seattle--The Aggravating Adventures of a Gigantic Tunnel Drill" Notably, the Montreal Metro Laval Extension is included in a list of cost overruns in mega projects.
  3. Not a good day for retail! http://ottawacitizen.com/business/local-business/sony-announces-it-will-close-all-sony-stores-in-canada Sony Corp. will close all 14 of its Sony Stores across Canada as the company continues to struggle to reshape its business. The company made the announcement on Thursday in a memo to the employees of its stores — including its Ottawa location in the Bayshore Shopping Centre — telling them that the stores will cease operations within the next two months. The company confirmed the news in a statement released to The Citizen. “Over the next 6 to 8 weeks we are closing our Sony Stores in Canada and will redirect all of this business through our national network of Sony retailers, our online store … as well as through our Sony-trained Telesales team,” read the statement. “Our network of Sony authorized retailers offer a full range of Sony products and will be supported by our in-store Merchandisers and Product Trainers on an ongoing basis in order to ensure that our past customers have continued access to knowledgeable Sales consultants who can support their ongoing Sony electronics needs.“ The company’s news came on the same day that Target announced it would be shuttering all of its retail stores in Canada. Sony did not say how many jobs are affected by the decision. The closure comes as Sony is struggling to reshape its business amidst years of losses. For the current fiscal year which ends in March, the company is estimating a $1.9 billion (U.S.) loss. Within the last year the company sold its Vaio personal computing business and spun out its TV manufacturing operations. It is now reported to be considering exiting the TV business entirely. The company is also considering options for its lacklustre cellular phone division.
  4. Bay Street still has Canada’s most expensive office space http://renx.ca/bay-street-still-canadas-expensive-office-space/ Bay Street in Toronto has the most expensive office space in Canada, and no other city comes close to matching the $68.52 per square foot average rent that’s being asked for in the heart of the country’s financial district. JLL Canada recently released its “Most Expensive Streets for Office Space” report, which ranks Canadian cities by their highest asking rents. It shows many companies are still willing to pay a premium for the most expensive spaces, and competition is growing to get into prominent financial, retail and government hubs. “The most significant trend that we are seeing across major markets is that there are a large number of new developments underway,” said JLL Canada president Brett Miller. “Although we have only seen minor changes to the top market rents thus far in 2014, we anticipate that as the new inventory comes to market, overall rents will decrease in the older class-A stock whilst headline rents in new developments may raise the top line rents.” Here are the most expensive streets in nine major Canadian cities 1. Bay Street, Toronto, $68.52 per square foot Bay Street held strong in first place for the fourth year running. It features the headquarters of major Canadian banks and is home to many investment banks, accounting and law firms. Brookfield Place, at 161 Bay St., continues to command the highest office rents of any building in Canada at $76.54 per square foot. The average market rent in Toronto is $34.82 per square foot. (Bay St. looking north from Front St. shown in the image,) 2. 8th Avenue SW, Calgary, $59.06 per square foot 8th Avenue SW again has the highest average gross office rents in Calgary. Large vacancies and availabilities along this corridor typically account for significant activity and command market-leading rates. Large oil and gas companies have historically clustered around the central business district in this area. The top rent on the street is $64.40 per square foot and the average market rent in Calgary is $46 per square foot. 3. Burrard Street, Vancouver, $58.87 per square foot Burrard Street has dropped to third place despite a slight increase in average asking rent from $58.47 in 2013. Approximately 18.3 per cent of downtown class-A office supply is located on Burrard Street between West Georgia Street and Canada Place. The vacancy rate in these six buildings sits at 1.6 per cent, which justifies this location commanding some of the highest rental rates in the city despite the impending influx of new supply that’s putting downward pressure on rents throughout the central business district. The top rent on the street is $66.06 per square foot and the average market rent in Vancouver is $38.81 per square foot. 4. Albert Street, Ottawa, $52.10 per square foot Albert Street remained in fourth position with average rents decreasing slightly from $53.40 per square foot. Albert Street is mainly home to government-related office towers, including numerous foreign embassies, and a few of the largest Canadian business law firms. There seems to be a wait-and-see approach in anticipation of the 2015 federal election regarding the government’s intentions to lease or return more space to the market. The top rent on the street is $53.54 per square foot and the average market rent in Ottawa is $30.90 per square foot. 5. 101st Street NW, Edmonton, $46.71 per square foot The average asking rent dropped from $48.19 per square foot, but 101st Street NW is expected to remain the most expensive in Edmonton with the recent commitment to build the arena district, a large-scale, mixed-use project incorporating the city’s new National Hockey League arena. This is expected to revitalize some of the most important corners on the street. The top rent on the street is $54.15 per square foot and the average market rent in Edmonton is $28.30 per square foot. 6. René-Lévesque W, Montreal, $44.28 per square foot The average gross rent on the street hasn’t changed significantly year over year, but the total value of tenant inducement packages has nearly doubled. The most expensive building on the street (1250 René-Lévesque W) rents for $52.76 per square foot but has seen some downward pressure of two to four dollars on its net rent due to 170,000 square feet of vacant space left behind by Heenan Blaikie. The average market rent in Montreal is $30.38 per square foot. 7. Upper Water Street, Halifax, $36.42 per square foot Upper Water Street has maintained seventh place despite its average asking rent dropping from $36.65 per square foot last year. New construction coming on stream is expected to put downward pressure on rents in existing office buildings. The top rent on the street is $36.62 per square foot and the average market rent in Halifax is $27.44 per square foot. 8. Portage Avenue, Winnipeg, $35.67 per square foot Portage Avenue held strong in eighth place, with its average rent increasing from $35.17 per square foot. The class-A market remains tight and is expected to remain so through 2015. The top rent on the street is $37.32 per square foot and the average market rent in Winnipeg is $23.62 per square foot. 9. Laurier Boulevard, Québec City, $27.50 per square foot Laurier Boulevard held its ninth-place position despite the average rent dropping from $28.14 per square foot. There’s been no notable increase in the average gross rent and the vacancy rate on the street remains low at 5.2 per cent compared to the rest of the market’s 7.8 per cent. The top rent on the street is $28.98 per square foot and the average market rent in Québec City is $21.89 per square foot. JLL manages more than 50 million square feet of facilities across Canada and offers tenant and landlord representation, project and development services, investment sales, advisory and appraisal services, debt capital markets and integrated facilities management services to owners and tenants.
  5. http://www.cyqm.ca/en/home/aboutus/news/kfaerospaceannouncesnewdomesticandinternationalcar.aspx Too bad YUL (prob due to curfew) and YMX couldn't get this business. Does anyone know how the Cargo Market in YMX and YUL are doing? Anything besides just local services?
  6. Hello everyone, I have a vision to develop Montreal that would revolutionize the face of downtown and give an international touch to it. What I would like to do is to form a small group to develop a few schematics/drawings of my idea and present it to the city developers and some business people. Anybody that has the skills necessary on this forum willing to put some time in it? Let me know
  7. Everyone is aware that Montreal has been performing at an unacceptable level according to virtually every measure. The challenges that lay ahead are not simple, or easy, but they can be pursued successfully. Significant change appears to have commenced, and may be gathering strength. At the outset, let’s be clear about something. If Montreal is to become a great city again, it will either need to get some sort of real “special status” within Quebec, become a special economic zone or, later, a city state. As we see it, the fundamental question we face is: Can Montreal become a city of global importance, or is it destined to be a provincial metropolis? We are currently a provincial metropolis not much higher in status than other important provincial metropolises, such as Halifax or Winnipeg. We need to become more important, like Toronto or Barcelona. Under existing constitutional arrangements, municipalities are controlled largely by the provinces. Provincial governments pass most of the enabling legislation that affects the powers cities have. Mayor Denis Coderre has entered into talks with two provincial cabinet ministers, Pierre Moreau and Robert Poëti, regarding some kind of special status for Montreal that would see the city get more responsibilities and funding — but for small things like transport and services for the homeless. Bravo and kudos, but is that enough? No. A recent Bank of Montreal/Boston Consulting Group analysis of Montreal outlined 10 distinct proposals to turnaround the city’s sagging fortunes. If these 10 propositions were to become actionable, they would be implemented within one of the two broader contexts we see for Montreal: evolving provincial metropolis or evolving global city. First of all, Montreal needs to be able to attract and retain the best talent. That is a clearly defined goal to which to aspire. To do this, Montreal must control its own destiny, and that means it must be open to diversity and become a beacon of opportunity. In order to reconnect with the larger North American and offshore business world, Quebec’s restrictive language laws need to be reviewed, and reworked to fit with Montreal’s global ambitions and identity. The thinking should be as follows: Montreal is a French city, first of all. It is also a North American city. It should become a global city. Global cities are defined by their openness to diversity and creativity. And so all students, regardless of ancestry or origin, need to be bilingual at the end of primary school, and trilingual at the end of secondary school. Anglophones and allophones (including immigrants) should be free to choose any school they want, as long as those schools offer a bilingual or trilingual education. Businesses and institutions should be able to use their language of choice. The public should have access to all services in either official language: anywhere, anytime. All of this is possible; we just have to do it. The time is now. Michel David is a business strategist and author of The Genius Is Inside. He is also a director of Fondation Montréal: City-State. He lives in Westmount. Morton Grostern is a consultant to small- and medium-sized businesses in Montreal. He is also a director of Fondation Montreal: City-State. He lives in Hampstead. Michel Lozeau, a strategic consultant and executive coach in Paris, contributed to this commentary. He lives in Montreal and Paris. © Copyright © The Montreal Gazette
  8. before you all get excited, Swiss is going to put the 777 on YUL next summer for pilot training reasons only! With 62 business class seats, this airplane is not meant for Montreal for our market. Effective Aug 30 2016, it will return to normal year-round A330-300 operations. http://airlineroute.net/2015/07/09/lx-77w-s16update1/
  9. http://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/time-for-action-to-help-spur-small-business-in-city-ferrandez-says Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  10. as much as Aubin is a loud mouth - he;s not far from the truth. A wake up call to forum members.. we all love Montreal but we need to seriously wake up. 2011/2012 was a bad 2 years - we need to improve MONTREAL — SNC-Lavalin Inc. — founded by francophone Montrealers, headquartered in Montreal and active in engineering and construction projects in more than 100 countries — has long been the proud symbol of Québec Inc. Now, however, it risks becoming a symbol of something else — the decline of Montreal’s place on the world stage. The company announced last week that it is creating its largest corporate unit (one focused on hydrocarbons, chemicals, metallurgy, mining, the environment and water) and locating it not in Quebec but in London; heading it will be a Brit, Neil Bruce. As well, the company also said it was creating a global operations unit that would be based in the British capital. To be sure, SNC-Lavalin denies speculation by a La Presse business columnist that the company might be slowly moving its head office from Montreal. The two moves to London must be seen as reflecting “our healthy expansion globally,” says a spokesperson. “The corporate headquarters and all its functions still remain in Montreal.” Nonetheless, this unmistakable shift of authority abroad takes place within a broader context of fewer local people atop the SNC-Lavalin pyramid. In 2007, six of the top 11 executives were francophone Quebecers; last year, three. Note, too, that only two of 13 members of its board of directors are francophone Quebecers. When the company last fall replaced discredited Pierre Duhaime of Montreal as president, CEO, and board member, it picked an American, Robert Card. What’s happening to the company based on René-Lévesque Blvd. is the latest sign of the erosion of Montreal’s status as a major business centre. Of Canada’s 500 largest companies, 96 had their head offices in this city in 1990; in 2010, says Montréal International, only 81 remained, a 16-per-cent decline. It’s true that Toronto, too, has seen a decrease (with some of its companies heading to booming Calgary), but it’s only of six per cent. As well, because Hogtown has more than twice as many head offices as Montreal, the trend there has far less impact. Anyone with a stake in Montreal’s prosperity should care about what’s happening here. Head offices and major corporate offices, such as the SNC-Lavalin’s units, bring more money collectively into the city than do big events — the Grand Prix and the aquatics championship — whose threatened departures cause political storms. Such offices employ high-spending, high-taxpaying local residents and attract visiting business people year-round — people who represent income for cabbies, hoteliers, restaurateurs, computer experts, lawyers and accountants. Indeed, this week’s controversy over the absence of direct air links from Trudeau International Airport to China and South America is pertinent to this trend. It’s not only federal air policy over the decades that’s responsible for this isolation. It’s also that Montrealers have less money, and one reason for that is, as Trudeau boss James Cherry notes, “there are far fewer head offices in Montreal.” Keep losing them and we’ll be a real backwater. But how do we avoid losing these offices? We don’t need more studies. Tons of studies — good ones — already exist. The No. 1 factor for a company when choosing a head office location is corporate taxes, according to a Calgary Economic Development study. Quebec’s are the highest in Canada and the U.S. Thirty-four per cent of the executives at 103 local companies say that Montreal’s business climate had “deteriorated “ in the previous five years, Montreal’s Chambre de commerce found a year ago. The main reason: infrastructure (not only roads but also the health system). A study called “Knowledge City” that Montreal city hall commissioned in 2004 is still relevant. Its survey of 100 mobile, well-educated people (some of whom had already left Montreal) found that their top three biggest complaints with the city were, in descending order, high personal taxes, decaying infrastructure and political uncertainty from sovereignty. All studies agree that the quality of Montreal’s universities helps attract companies. Weakened universities would lower this power. The Parti Québécois government’s minister for Montreal, Jean-François Lisée, declared before Christmas that he was “Montréalo-optimiste.” He did not, however, spell out concrete steps for addressing the above-listed problems. Too bad that his government on Jan. 1 imposed higher personal taxes for people with high incomes — which hits business people. Too bad it has reduced spending on infrastructure by 14 per cent. Too bad that it has not only reduced funds to universities by $124 million over the next three months but that it says it might cut their funding in other years as well — in effect weakening them. And, finally, too bad that Premier Pauline Marois said this week her party would soon launch a campaign to promote sovereignty and that her government would step up its strategy of wresting powers from Ottawa. In the next few says, she’ll further promote Quebec independence with a meeting in Edinburgh with Scotland’s sovereignist leader. Staunch the hemorrhage of corporate offices from Montreal under this government? The very idea is Montréalo-irréaliste. Read more: http://www.montrealgazette.com/life/Henry+Aubin+avoid+losing+head+offices/7862525/story.html#ixzz2IrXbVaOH
  11. Montréal accueille la prochaine Flying Business Travel Academy C'est au Québec, et plus précisément à Montréal, que se tiendra du 17 au 20 novembre prochain, la seconde Flying Business Travel Academy. Pour cet événement, 11 travel managers francophones iront échanger avec leurs homologues québécois sur les grands thèmes du travel management et aborderont les techniques du "change management", les grandes évolutions de l'aérien ou les attentes en matière de gestion des budgets voyage. La seconde édition de la Flying Business Travel Academy (qui s'était déroulée à Washington en 2010), organisée en partenariat avec Air France, les sujets ne manquent pas. Outre les grandes interrogations actuelles sur les évolutions tarifaires et les approches stratégiques des grandes compagnies, il est clair que la lisibilité actuelle des transporteurs aériens est complexe à analyser et à intégrer dans sa politique d'achat. En deux ans, 154 lignes ont disparu ou changé d'opérateurs. Autant de refonte des plans de déplacements pour certaines entreprises qui s'étaient réjouies un peu vite de ces ouverture. L'époque du transport aérien "champignon" est engagée. La ligne se crée le lundi et s'abandonne le vendredi. Les low-cost donnent le ton et damnent le pion aux régulières même si, et c'est une évidence, elles ne desservent aujourd'hui que 12 % des liaisons mondiales. En clair, s'il est facile de faire un Beauvais - Venise, il est plus complexe d'aller tous les jours à Boston ou à Tokyo... Aux mêmes tarifs que les prix d'appels aujourd'hui constatés en Europe. On le voit le best buy est lentement mais surement abandonné par les grandes entreprises alors que les PME/PMI à l'affût de la moindre économie ne jurent que par lui. Faut-il alors faire comme IBM et jouer au chat et à la souris avec le tarif le moins cher ? Doit-on suivre Unilever ou Monsanto qui désormais reportent les budgets voyages sur leurs divisions en incitant aux économies par des primes de résultats ? On le voit tout bouge. Les compagnies réduisent capacités et dessertes. Des low fares se créent tous les jours en Asie et personne ne peut dire à quoi ressemblera le transport aérien dans deux ans, cinq ans ou dix ans. A Montréal, ce sont ces sujets quotidiens qui seront abordés, débattus, analysés. Une Académie pour comprendre et anticiper. Une Académie pour se préparer aux grandes mutations annoncées. Marcel Lévy http://www.deplacementspros.com/Montreal-accueille-la-prochaine-BR-Flying-Business-Travel-Academy_a12124.html
  12. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/9133399/Paris-to-trump-Londons-Shard-with-Europes-tallest-buildings.html Paris to trump London's Shard with Europe's tallest buildings The two skyscrapers will 40ft taller than the Shard, which is currently under construction in the British capital. Planning permission for the French project called Hermitage Plaza - designed by British artchitects Foster and Partners - was granted by Paris officials this week. The two buildings - which will house offices, luxury apartments, a shopping complex and a hotel - will dominate the skyline in the western business district of La Defense. Work began on the Shard at London Bridge in February 2009 and it is already Europe's highest construction project at a cost so far of around £450 million. The 87-storey building is due for completion in May this year, when it will stand at 1,017 feet tall and offer uninterrupted 360-degree views of London for 40 miles in every direction.
  13. (Courtesy of CNW) It should be open in the Spring of this year. I drove passed it, honestly it doesn't look at like it at all ready. They are setting up shop in the old Ferrari-Maserati dealership. At least now people don't have to go to Toronto or John Scotti to get their Rolls
  14. (Courtesy of CBC News) I remember hearing about this about 1-2 years ago. I am just surprised it is not playing at the Segal theater.
  15. Here are some photos I took in and around Caracas yesterday (I will post more later). I have always wondered what non-Venezuelan people think about Venezuelan cities. Here are my views: Venezuelan metro systems are much cleaner, modern and quieter (the trains, not the people) than the older North American and European subways. The streets outside are much dirtier though. These are photos of a metro station near my house: This is the skyline of a small section of the eastern (wealthier) part of Caracas: These are some photos of the area around Altamira, one of the most important business and residential districts of the city: These ones are from the area around the Bellas Artes metro station. Bellas Artes is the bohemian district of Caracas:
  16. Montreal has a hot brand City should plug culture: minister By LYNN MOORE, The GazetteFebruary 21, 2009 Montreal should be "branding" itself as a major cultural and creative capital using institutions such as the Canadiens, the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and Montreal International Jazz Festival, Quebec's minister of economic development told a gathering of business leaders. The global finance crises has exasperated setbacks such as the loss of the Grand Prix Formula 1 racing event while continuing job and production cuts by major companies have shaken citizens and business leaders alike, Raymond Bachand told a Metropolitan Montreal Chamber of Commerce luncheon. "I want to tell you that the solutions (to shaken confidence and setbacks) are staring us in the face ... and are under our feet, if only we would see them," Bachand said. Bachand's reference to the Canadiens as a "one of the best-known trademarks in the world" prompted a wave of laughter from the audience. A front-page article in yesterday's La Presse linked three Canadiens players with one of the suspects arrested last week in a police operation targeting organized crime. "When one journalist makes a mistake, we don't condemn all media (outlets). And just because one player makes a mistake, we don't forget about 100 years of history," Bachand said. [email protected] © Copyright © The Montreal Gazette
  17. International Business Machines pourrait cesser de participer aux activités des groupes qui, dans le monde, établissent les normes de l'industrie de la technologie, soutenant que ce système présente des carences. Pour en lire plus...
  18. Montreal's tempest in a beer cup A summertime deal between Labatt and the city's Gay Village raises questions about private interests dominating public spaces From Tuesday's Globe and Mail August 5, 2008 at 3:57 AM EDT MONTREAL — Stéphanie Dagenais didn't mind the Bud Light parasols and cups she was forced to use on her restaurant patio in Montreal's Gay Village. It's when the brewery started telling her Bud Light had to go in those plastic cups that the manager of Kilo bristled. "I think it's an aggressive way of doing a sponsorship," said Ms. Dagenais, who was forced to sell the beer under an exclusive deal struck between Labatt, which brews the beer in Canada, and the Gay Village business improvement group. The business association sold the right to sell beer on 54 new patios along a stretch of Ste-Catherine Street to Labatt, part of a summer-long festival that will see cars banished from the street. Owners say the $100,000 deal came with minimum sales quotas for each bar and restaurant, including a healthy sample of Bud Light. Patrons at a bar on Ste-Catherine Street in Montreal drink Molson Export out of the Bud Light cups required through Labatt’s sponsorship of the area. (John Morstad for The Globe and Mail) The Globe and Mail The deal irks restaurateurs like Ms. Dagenais, who doesn't sell much beer at her small restaurant, best known for tasty desserts, and others who try to tempt palates with fine dining, wine and specialty ales. A representative of the business group even suggested Bud Light is a popular beer among gays in the United States. While the banishment of cars from the street has been good for many businesses and great for pedestrians, the sponsorship is triggering a broader tempest in a beer cup over how much control private enterprises should have over public space. "I guess everything has a price," said Ms. Dagenais, who has several cases of Bud Light collecting dust. "But should it be that way? I don't think so, but it seems to be the way we work in North America." Christopher DeWolf, a writer for Spacing Montreal, an urban affairs website affiliated with the Toronto magazine Spacing, questions how corporate interests were allowed to take over a public street. "The closure to cars has created a destination, it creates an ambience that is impossible with cars," Mr. DeWolf said. "But here you have a product foisted on merchants and their customers. It raises the question of how far we should allow private interests to have such control over our public spaces. I think it's a burden on merchants and it restricts public choice." Bernard Plante, director of the Gay Village business association, said the deal is no different than exclusive beer rights negotiated at other city venues. He pointed to the privately owned Bell Centre where only Molson beer is sold. Mr. Plante brushed aside complaints about the use of public space, saying his business group is provincially legislated and democratically run. "These are the decisions we made on behalf of businesses on the street," Mr. Plante said. Merchants could shed the restraints of sponsorship when the deal runs out after the summer of 2009, he added. But they will have to agree to pay for the street closing, including the cost of street decor and rent to the city for having patios on public streets and sidewalks. Across North America, summer festivals run by private entities take over parks and streets, often with exclusive rights to allow access and to sell products. Many of the examples are more intrusive than the Montreal beer sponsorship. In one infamous example in the United States, Washington's National Mall was fenced off for a Pepsi product launch and concert - a 2003 scene described by the Project for Public Spaces as "singularly shocking for its sheer scope and audacity." Steve Davies, a vice-president of the New York-based group that encourages sensible integration of private business in public spaces, says sponsors get in trouble when they start constraining normal commercial activity. "It goes too far when they use a sponsorship to start telling dozens of private businesses what to do on public land over an entire summer," Mr. Davies said. In Montreal, big chunks of major downtown streets are regularly closed to traffic for short periods for everything from the Jazz Festival to Just for Laughs. The Gay Village pedestrian mall will last 2½ months. Mr. DeWolf said Montreal has one big thing right: The city usually emphasizes free public access, even if access to products like food and drink are often restricted. Labatt officials could not be reached yesterday. But Jean-Luc Raymond, owner of La Planète, which specializes in international cuisine, says he's noticed a little more flexibility from his brewery representative since the controversy broke out. Mr. Raymond has managed to get a little more of the fashionable Stella Artois and a little less Bud Light. "The Bud Light is still languishing," he said, "but I'm not like some others who have to try to sell Bud Light and cheesecake."
  19. Montreal's Cogeco aquires Toronto Hydro Mike King, Montreal Gazette Published: Friday, June 13 MONTREAL - Cogeco Cable Inc. is spreading its network into Canada's biggest business telecommunications market with the purchase of Toronto Hydro Telecom Inc. "This acquisition is another step in the enrichment of the Cogeco Business Solutions Data offering," Louis Audet, president and CEO of the Montreal company, said yesterday in announcing the deal. He said THTI's state-of-the-art network, dedicated workforce and Toronto business market potential "should complement our existing business telecommunications activities in Ontario and allow future growth for Cogeco Cable in this line of business." Cogeco is the second-largest cable telecommunications operator in Ontario, Quebec and Portugal respectively based on the number of basic cable subscribers. Audet said the takeover "demontrates our willingness to seize upon external growth opportunities in our Canadian footprint when they arise and fit well with our business strategy." The deal provides Cogeco with a unique chance to add owned and operated points of presence throughout the greater Toronto area, linked to its other existing broadband facilities extending over the dense Ontario telecommunications corridor from Windsor to Cornwall. At the same time, THTI customers will be able to benefit from Cogeco's extensive fiber network spanning Ontario and Quebec. Shares closed at $39.89 on the Toronto Stock Exchange yesterday, up $1.08. [email protected] http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette/news/business/story.html?id=8bb1d48f-5b0f-44ce-a31a-3ee91ef6ef00
  20. Desjardins financial grows outside Quebec The Gazette Published: 1 hour ago Desjardins Financial Security, the life and health insurance arm of the $152-billion Desjardins Group, said yesterday that business growth outside Quebec was strong in the second quarter. Premium income was up 6.1 per cent from a year earlier in Quebec, where it already has a large market presence, and rose 16.8 per cent in the rest of Canada. Desjardins Financial has been working hard to build market share outside Quebec, especially for group business. Desjardins Financial also sells group and individual retirement savings products, including mutual funds, and growth in this business came mainly from its new guaranteed investment contracts. "We continue to gain ground in an extremely competitive insurance market," chief operating officer Richard Fortier said. Second-quarter net income was $59.3 million vs. $68.4 million a year earlier.
  21. Top Asian team at global business challenge 31 March 2008 NUS' MBA team beat more than 270 Asian teams to emerge the best in the continent at Cerebration 2008, with DBS as principal sponsor. The Competition is an annual global business challenge organized by the NUS Business School. The team finished second overall among the more than 450 participating teams from 200 business schools worldwide. HEC Montreal team emerged the champion, with the London Business School and McGill University completing the final field of four. Now in its fourth year, the competition gives MBA students a chance to devise global business expansion strategies for participating Singapore companies -- Brewerkz Restaurant and Microbrewery, Expressions International and Qian Hu Corp. Each team had to study its chosen firm and come up with strategies based on the firm’s unique profile and target market. This is the second straight year that the NUS team has finished second in the competition, reflecting the School’s global ranking of the top 100 business schools for its MBA program.
  22. jesseps

    Rogers Vision

    Anyone try it out? Rant: I just wish we could sort of get a decent rate for surfing the net with our phone. One thing I noticed that the Vision (3G) is on the same network at the wireless internet (pc cards) or so I think. 1GB for $65. Something similar for consumers and not business oriented people, probably cost over $500. Plus 1GB surfing on the phone seems reasonable, it is like 30 MB a day for about $2.
  23. Draxis to create up to 100 jobs after chosen by J&J for contract manufacturing 6 days ago MONTREAL (CP) — Pharma company Draxis Health Inc. (TSX:DAX) is building a new Montreal plant and hiring up to 100 people after the company's contract manufacturing division expanded its existing relationship with Johnson & Johnson, one of the world's biggest consumer products companies. The contract expansion will lead to between 80 to 100 new positions at Draxis Pharma operations in the Montreal area and require the building of a new secondary plant, in addition to the current Draxis manufacturing plant in suburban Kirkland, the company said Wednesday. On the Toronto Stock Exchange, Draxis stock jumped 34 cents to trade at $5.39, a gain of 6.7 per cent as investors reacted positively to the news. Draxis said the new deal with Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies Inc. could mean another US$120 million in revenues over five years to the Canadian company. In addition, the transfer of equipment and production technologies, now in progress, is expected to generate additional revenues this year and next of between US$6 million and US$8 million. The supply deal, which runs to the end of 2013 and can be extended, involves the manufacturing of non-sterile specialty semi-solid products currently sold in the United States. Commercial production is expected to begin in 2009. "The signing of this contract is a reflection of the solid business model at Draxis," said Martin Barkin, president and CEO of the Toronto-area company. "We are honoured to have been selected from more than 80 international contract manufacturers under a rigorous and comprehensive global selection process conducted over an extended multi-year period. "This contract includes prescription and non-prescription products and will significantly improve capacity utilization in the semi-solids section of our non-sterile operations." As a result of the manufacturing deal, Draxis plans to build a new secondary plant to handle labeling, product assembly for different markets, cartoning and shipping. The new operation is slated to open next summer and will complement the company's production plant in Kirkland, in west-end Montreal. The jobs expansion is good news for the local Montreal economy, which has also seen other drug developers expand operations in recent months. In June, global drug giant GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK) announced it has spent $50 million to upgrade its laboratory north of Montreal into the North American research and administrative headquarters for its vaccine division. GlaxoSmithKline, based in Britain, is a world leader in the vaccine business. The company has 3,300 employees in Canada, including 1,400 in Quebec. Draxis, based in Mississauga, Ont. makes sterile products such as injectable liquids, ointments and creams, non-sterile products as well as radiopharmaceuticals for diagnostic imaging and treatment. The company employs about 500 people at its Montreal plant. Last year, Draxis generated a profit of US$11.5 million on revenues of just under US$90 million.