Marc Néron is about to have four busy days. The owner of Cycle Néron, a Brossard-based chain of bicycle shops is preparing to head out with the Grand défi Pierre Lavoie, a 60-hour, 1,000 kilometre bike marathon that sees riders travel from Saguenay—Lac-St-Jean to Montreal.
Néron, along members of his staff, will be acting as the service crew for event participants.
“Our job is to take care of them, to be sure they can finish their ride,” Néron says.
With about 1,000 cyclists riding long distances, it’s not an easy job.
“We’re working 24 hours a day for four days, we don’t sleep,” Néron said.
He started in the bicycle business as a mechanic, working in the Brossard sporting goods store his father opened in 1970.
“I always liked bicycles more than the other sports,” he said. “I always liked the mechanics of the bikes.”
In 1988, Néron and his brother, Jean-François, bought out their father.
A few years later, the brothers decided to focus exclusively on selling bikes.
“The bicycle business was growing and growing and the other stuff was getting more difficult, so we went the easy way,” Néron says.
It turned out to be a good decision.
“The market is growing, mountain bike is growing more and more,” Néron said. “Urban bikes are very popular, electric bikes are getting popular, too. There’s so many different parts of the market we can cover.”
In 1998, the brothers began to expand their business, buying a store in Boucherville. In 2012, they opened a location in Montreal’s St-Henri neighbourhood, a Lachine store followed in 2015. In February, they bought Castonguay Cycles & Sport, a St-Lambert store that has been in business since 1941.
While Néron might have more stores, he said he still works on the floor at his family’s first location in Brossard.
“It’s the same thing, one store, two stores or three stores, it’s all the same problems,” he said. “We’re sharing the same website, we’re sharing the same warehouse, we’re sharing the same administration people, so the more stores you have, the less costs you have.”
The Néron brothers’ five children have followed their fathers into the business and Néron said he could see his three daughters following in his footsteps and one day taking it over.
“I didn’t push for that, but it’s going towards that anyway,” he said. “They all went to school and can do anything they want, but they like to work with us, so they might stay here. It’s a good thing, we have many stores so they can keep busy.”
Néron said he likes working with his family.
“It’s not always easy, but it’s nice,” he said. “We’re used to it, we’ve be doing it since forever.”
For Néron, his next focus is growing the company’s online business. It currently sells bike parts and accessories online.
While people aren’t buying bikes over the Internet yet, Néron said he expects they will in the future.
“We have to be ready,” he said.