Who really knows Eddy Savoie? Under the spotlight with two recent cases that have sparked controversy, the founding president of Groupe Savoie – Les Résidences Soleil continues his journey, guided by values on which he built his life. Here is the fascinating journey of this man, as told during a long interview with the Magazine Immobilier Commercial.
Family is at the center of his life and business, who is now known to have a fortune valued at nearly $ 1.5 billion, of which $ 1.3 billion consists of real estate assets.
Three generations are working side by side in the family business. In addition to his wife and himself, Eddy Savoie is surrounded by his five children, Nataly, Executive President – Operation, Eddy Junior, Executive President – Construction, Nadine-Coïne, Nancy and Janet, administration. “If there is a project, something to do on Saturday or Sunday, in the evening or at night, I can always count on my children. I do not even have to ask them. For them, it’s natural.” Some of her 13 grandchildren are already active in the company. In short, succession is assured.
Dedicated to his family, Eddy Savoie is also dedicated to his country of origin. In his native village of Kedgwick, he supports Camp Canak, a respite and accommodation center, but also other business projects.
In addition to his family, Eddy Savoie also owes his success to his optimism and his confidence in life. “If I have confidence in myself, I can trust others,” he said. The creed of this man: “If you sow the good, you reap the good. ”
Like any real self-made-man, Eddy Savoie started from nothing, with less than $ 5 in his pocket to go to Montreal, a big city that could offer this young man of 15 years old a bright future. In his luggage, he carried with him solid values inculcated by his father, a woodcutter, and his mother, who, in addition to raising his eight children – four of whom died in infancy -, held a small general store at home.
When he arrived in Montreal, he found a job in a factory before working as an apprentice. In the evening, he followed various courses. His dream: becoming a contractor. “You know, in New Brunswick, only one person controlled everything: Irving. I did not want to be at the mercy of anyone, and work did not scare me. ”
At the age of 28, he launched his general construction business, which carried out major real estate projects. Among other things, he built large rental buildings and got involve in the expansion of the Royal Victoria Hospital and the construction of the ”Maison de la culture Mercier” in Montreal.
The invention of a concept
It is the family spirit very dear to this man who is at the origin of the real estate empire that he built with Les Residences Soleil.
In the late 70s, Eddy Savoie’s parents lived in the couple’s residence in Mont-Saint-Hilaire. With his father’s health declining, the entrepreneur decided to settle his parents in a seniors residence. He and his family went to the research of a comfortable and safe residence, offering all the services, activities and care needed, but they couldn’t find one.
The idea of creating a residence appeared in Eddy Savoie’s mind. He then travelled multiple times in Europe in the hope of discovering innovative ideas, but without success. Convinced that there was a market in Quebec for a residence concept that combines quality of life and safety, he passed to action mode.
The entrepreneur bought a land in Boucherville and financed the construction of his first residence through the sale of two large rental properties, Terrasses Villeneuve and Place Nobert, in Longueuil.
Les Residences Soleil Manoir Boucherville, the first Residences Soleil cost ten million dollars and was inaugurated in November 1988. Eddy Savoie acknowledges that its launch was difficult. “The concept was not known and was not part of the mentality of people. Fortunately, we continued to make other construction projects and we were able to make up the shortfall.” Two and a half years after the opening of the residence, the occupancy rate finally reached 95%.
Eddy Savoie then decided to extend his model of residence for seniors in different Quebec cities by focusing on volume. .
As a builder, owner and manager, Groupe Savoie now operates 14 residences. It employs more than 2,000 people, including those working in the construction business. First criterion of hiring in its residences: “to love golden agers”, specifies Eddy Savoie.
L’accessibilité à tous
In the Residences Soleil Manoir Boucherville’s hallways, where the Group’s headquarters are located, Eddy Savoie welcomes each of the residents we meet and addresses them by name. “Not long ago, I attended all the parties organized to celebrate the anniversaries of the month in each of the residences. In each residence, a committee of residents, elected at the annual general meeting, organizes activities, in collaboration with the management. At this meeting, parents and residents can also share their grievances. “We are always open to constructive criticism,” says Eddy Savoie.
Aware of the financial precariousness of several elders, Eddy Savoie made a cause. “I’ve known this, being poor,” he said during the interview. In the early 2000s, he was involved in a struggle with the RQRA (now known as the Regroupement québécois des résidences pour aînés), which ended with the creation of a provincial tax of 23% favoring the maintenance at home of people aged 70 and over, rich or poor. “In our homes, 33% of people receive a shelter allowance, which means they earn less than $ 16,000 a year,” says Eddy Savoie. With these credits, residents can afford to stay in a 1 1/2 or 2 1/2 which make up between 25 and 30% of apartments in each residence.
In total, more than 7,000 people, whose average age varies around 83 years, live in Les Résidences Soleil. Nineteen of the 52 centenarians benefit from the Privilège Soleil program, which offers free accommodation to the resident who has reached 100 years of age and who has been in his apartment for at least 10 years. Moreover, a resident who has been staying in the same apartment for at least 10 years receives no increase in rent when he blows his 90 candle.
An empire in the Sun
Groupe Savoie is going foward.
In Montreal, Les Residences Soleil Manoir Plaza, located on Sherbrooke Street, corner Berri, opened last year. The former 26 levels hotel, bought at a price of $ 27 million, underwent extensive conversion work. Right now, “the occupancy rate is 89%,” says Eddy Savoie.
A few kilometers away, near the Olympic stadium, Groupe Savoie has just acquired the Jardin Tiki restaurant for $ 5.8 million. “A broker approached me and let me know that there were opportunities for the restaurant to sell,” says Eddy Savoie. The building will be shaved to make room for a 500-unit complex, a $ 75-million project by 2017 if everything goes according to plan.
In addition, Groupe Savoie is looking at other markets than Quebec.
The expansion will first take place in Orleans, a French-speaking suburb of Ottawa, where the Group plans to build a complex of 550 to 600 apartments. “We bought a land of over 2 million square feet and we are waiting for our demand for a zoning change.” According to the businessman, the Ontario market has a few seniors’ residences and the price of the apartments would be very high.
The Savoie Group is also targeting the US market. “We are looking for spaces in Florida. ”There, the market is not developed and what is there is so expensive, ” comments the founding president.
«We reap what we sow »
With a third generation already at work and a 4th generation that has just been born, the Groupe Savoie has the wind in its sails.
At 71, Eddy Savoie does not plan to retire, because for him, his work is not. The victim of a serious snowmobile accident three years ago and two strokes last October, he remains active, although he admits to have slowed down a bit.
His Consumer Choice awarded business, also recognized as one of the Best Managed Companies in Canada for now 12 years, “will never go public, because I do not need capital,” said Eddy Savoie. And there is no question of selling either. “I received offers, but I always refuse. Our family business generates jobs, creates wealth and pays taxes here. People should think about it before criticizing, “says the businessman.
“Sometimes I’m told,” You picked up an empire. I did not pick it up. Mathematically, it has been conceived by itself. We were able to sow and harvest. “