Olymel President, CEO Réjean Nadeau dead at age 71

Yanick Gervais, Olymel’s senior vice president of operations, will assume the duties of CEO

Olymel President and CEO Réjean Nadeau, 71, died October 14, 2021, from a “sudden and virulent cancer,” the company said.

Nadeau joined the Coop fédéree in 1976, after earning two bachelor’s degrees from Laval University, one in education and one in industrial relations.

He created Unidindon, Canada’s largest company operating in the turkey sector, partnering with Exceldor. He combined the operations of the Coop fédérée pork and poultry sectors into the subsidiary Olymel. He carried out the acquisition of Canada’s largest pork processing plant in Red Deer, Alberta. He also completed the merger of Olymel with Supraliment, the meats division of Groupe Brochu, adding the famous Lafleur deli brand to its Olymel and Flamingo brands. He created a business partnership with Westco, a New Brunswick poultry producer, to build the Sunnymel chicken slaughterhouse and butchering plant, which now serves the Maritimes. He acquired the second largest hog producer in the country, Big Sky Farms of Saskatchewan, to secure Olymel’s supply in Western Canada.

In Quebec, in recent years, he concluded important partnerships in the fresh pork sector with ATRAHAN Transformation Inc., as well as with the Robitaille Group in Lucyporc. Under his leadership, Olymel also made several acquisitions, including those of La Fernandière in 2016, Pinty’s Delicious Foods and Aliments Triomphe Inc. in 2018, as well as all of F. Ménard’s pork activities in 2020.

In less than 20 years, Nadeau spearheaded an expansion that has given Olymel an active presence in Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick, Saskatchewan and Alberta. Under his leadership, Olymel has continued to modernize, find new markets for its products, develop innovative solutions and meet the expectations of customers and consumers.

He has served on several boards of directors and is also involved with many charities. Under his leadership, the company has also garnered numerous awards for its products and the originality of its marketing, as well as for its management of human resources. In November 2013, Nadeau was honored by being inducted into the Association des détaillants en alimentation (ADA) Hall of Fame for lifetime achievement. In 2016, Nadeau was also awarded the Prix Hommage Grand Bâtisseur Desjardins for his entrepreneurial and leadership qualities in the agrifood processing sector.

He is survived by two children, Catherine and Frédéric; five grandchildren, Charlie-Rose, Eliam, Milo, Axel and Marly; and his partner, Maryse Gauvin.

Details about a memorial will be announced later.

Nadeau informed the Olymel team on October 7 that he would no longer be able to fulfill his duties due to illness. Yanick Gervais, Olymel’s senior vice president, operations, will assume the duties of CEO for as long as deemed necessary.