Founded in 1992, Homeopathy Quebec has garnered a top-notch reputation for offering an extended selection of healthcare alternatives and products that complement patients’ conventional medicine. As a specialized pharmacy, it offers over 4,000 products while promoting the homeopathic core of the business.
“We have different modalities to make sure that the patient will get the best result of what we have to offer,” explains Yvan Bourgault, pharmacist and co-owner of Homeopathy Quebec. “We are also a pharmacy and our pharmacists are always on hand to monitor any interactions between the drug that the patient will take and natural health products that he or she wants to take on top of what they are doing already.”
Since Homeopathy Quebec does not offer prescription drugs, it works in harmony with other pharmacies that have these medications by directing their patients to their location. In turn, neighbouring pharmacies send their patients to Homeopathy Quebec for the natural solutions.
Located near the Laval University in Quebec City, the pharmacy occupies 3,500 square feet of space, which boasts an expansive interior with rich wooden flooring and warm lighting. Bourgault says that he sees the pharmacy expanding across Canada in the future and hopes to open the next location in Montreal.
“We have more and more customers online from Ontario and from B.C. as well, so that’s definitely something we envisioned,” he says. “I won’t do that alone, I would love to have partners with me, and this concept, I think, would be a good one for others in Canada.”
Homeopathy Quebec currently employs about 23 staff and Bourgault says that his next step as manager is to instill a more solid structure of how the business is operated as well as visibility into day-to-day operations.
Bourgault was by no means a stranger to the pharmaceutical business when he took over Homeopathy Quebec. Coming from an extensive background in homeopathy in Canada and Europe, Bourgault’s name is well known to members of the industry. He started as a pharmacist and, shortly after, was offered a position with Boiron Canada.
“First, I really took care of their business development, and then became CEO; I did that for almost 10 years,” Bourgault says.
This success also inspired him to serve the Canadian Homeopathic Pharmaceutical Association as President, giving him an opportunity to deliver courses to pharmacists at the Laval University and the University of Montreal.
Bourgault’s extensive experience in the pharmaceutical industry and his interest in homeopathy later won him CEO position with Heel Canada, where he stayed for almost 14 years.
“I was in charge of marketing and sales as CEO for about ten years,” he says. “Then, Heel offered me a position in Germany, because we had a mandate there.”
After returning to Canada, Bourgault accepted the position of Executive VP and head of Canadian operations at Atrium, a company that owned a group of brands at the time.
“I had three business units reporting to me,” he says. “I was responsible for different brands: Trophic, Garden of Life, and Wild Rose. Also, I had two production plans: for Trophic, I had one unit in Penticton and I had one unit also in Quebec that was reporting to me. My mandate with Atrium was really to consolidate the business and streamline the operations.”
When a European group bought Atrium, the company decided to cut Bourgault’s position.
“Back then, in the summer of 2013, I decided to look for a company to buy instead of looking for a job. So I found Homeopathy Quebec, and I’m very happy about this acquisition,” he says.
The actual act of buying the pharmacy from Michel Groleau, its founder, took place in June 2014. When Bourgault acquired the company, he saw a great potential in Calendulis, a house eczema cream that had been around for 20 years.
“I immediately started a process to register this product and now, it’s registered with Health Canada,” Bourgault adds.
After the product obtained the DVHM, Bourgault found a partner that agreed to produce the cream—in Canada, only companies with a specific licence can manufacture therapeutics approved by Health Canada.
Also, to produce more traffic on the pharmacy’s website, Bourgault made it bilingual.
“Now, the site’s response is very good, so you can browse easily, and you have different ways of finding the right product for you,” he says.
COMBINING THE EXPERIENCES
With his experience in operating large companies, Bourgault now appreciates the beauty of having his own business, where, he says, “there is a great potential to control your destiny” and have a perfect work-home balance.
“Back then [when working for Boiron Canada and Heels], I was never home, basically a few days a week—only during weekends,” Bourgault says. “Now, I can train more, have time with my children and my wife, having a better quality of life.”
Currently, Bourgault enjoys the opportunity of working as a pharmacist, wearing a white lab coat and servicing the public directly—something he used to do when he started his career. He says the best part about his business is getting a direct feedback from a happy customer.
“Customers always have the option to go elsewhere, so we need to please them to ensure their good experience in the store,” he says.
By correlating products in a way that is in accordance with the patient’s needs, Homepathy Quebec lives up to one of its company slogans, “Customized remedies, because you are unique.”
BY IRINA LYTCHAK AND INNA LEVCHUK
Photography by Chantal Carbonneau