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Félix Lapointe, Etienne Boucher and Jonathan Audet launched Ferreol Skis in 2019.SIMON CLARK/SIMON CLARK / SUPPLIED

Five years ago, Félix Lapointe, Etienne Boucher and Jonathan Audet were all students at Laval University in Quebec City, where they were studying mechanical engineering – and bonding over a shared love of skiing.

“Even before knowing each other, we had already started working on some projects related to skiing,” Lapointe says. He had built himself a chairlift to ski in his large backyard, Audet had made a snow gun (ski resorts use them to create snow) and Boucher had crafted a ski press, a machine that compacts all the materials that make up skis into their signature shape.

Audet, who had worked in a ski shop for years told the others that he’d noticed some gaps in the ski market: customers were looking for more skis that Lapointe describes as “agile, versatile and playful” – that is, maneuverable, suitable for different types of snow and fun to use – as well as skis that were more eco-friendly, since mass-market options are usually made of synthetic materials. However, those qualities were hard to find internationally, even more from Quebecois companies.

Hello, eco-friendly skis

The trio saw an opportunity to combine their engineering skills and burgeoning entrepreneurial spirit with their love of the winter sport. Aided by the Éveil Eggenius scholarship, which supports Laval students who want to develop a business idea, they began developing their first ski model, the Pionnier 104, between classes and assignments. They officially launched the business, Ferreol Skis, in March 2019, and released their first product – high-performance, carbon-neutral alpine skis designed for Quebec’s dense forests – that December.

“Since our skis are made in the province of Quebec with hydroelectricity, and some of our materials are near carbon neutrality or locally sourced, we have one of the most eco-friendly skis in the world,” Lapointe says. “That’s a major differentiator for us.”

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Ferreol’s flax fibre replaces the synthetic fibres typically used in ski manufacturing.SIMON CLARK/SIMON CLARK / SUPPLIED

Since then, the company has developed four more models, including resort and backcountry skis. They’ve also developed a flax fibre ski construction that replaces the synthetic fibres typically used in ski manufacturing, which Lapointe says reduces the carbon footprint of Ferreol skis by 35 per cent.

And they’re getting noticed, by both customers and industry groups. Last year, Ferreol won an Innovative Sports Products and Services (ISPO) award in Germany, which is one of the most prestigious awards a ski company can win, Lapointe says. And while they were initially focused on serving Quebec’s ski enthusiasts, they’ve started accumulating customers from other Canadian provinces, the U.S. and even Europe, in large part because of their innovative and eco-friendly offerings. (They are looking to start new partnerships with local ski shops in Canada, United States and Europe to continue their growth.)

This puts Ferreol in good company; according to a 2022 QuickBooks report, 95 per cent of small business owners believe sustainability is important, and 72 per cent believe it’s very or extremely important.

Making strategic decisions with the right tools

Lapointe foresees continued growth for the business. The friends launched a sister company, Ferreol Technologies, in 2022 to further develop new materials for their skis; between the two companies, they employ seven people. But to know exactly where to focus their efforts, they depend on QuickBooks Online.

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The three co-founders use QuickBooks to help make strategic decisions.SIMON CLARK / SUPPLIED

“All three co-founders have a mechanical engineering background. We did not have any accounting or administrative experience, so we had to have an easy-to-use tool. QuickBooks could help us with all the administrative tasks, such as billing, tax reports, bookkeeping,” he says. “And five years later, we’ve been able to grow with QuickBooks.”

That growth is in part due to the financial reports Lapointe and his co-founders can easily access through QuickBooks, which they use to make strategic decisions. For example, when they see that sales are particularly brisk at one of the local ski shops they’ve partnered with, they can redirect their marketing budget to try to capitalize on that success.

Between their standout products – which have already earned themselves passionate fans – and the support they get from QuickBooks Online, Lapointe feels confident the company is only going to become more successful.

“We want to be one of the big players in the worldwide ski industry in the next few years,” he says.

Are you a Canadian business fuelled by passion and purpose? Share your business’s ‘big why’ on Instagram and TikTok using the #SmallBizBigWhy for a chance to be featured by Intuit QuickBooks.

Advertising feature produced by Globe Content Studio with QuickBooks. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.

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