Brother Canada

Five decades!

We set up shop in Canada in February 1960 as Brother International Corporation (Canada) Ltd., with headquarters in Québec’s Greater Montréal area. In the early 80s, we stretched an arm out to the west coast, establishing a distribution centre in Vancouver, BC, and in 2014, we opened our Toronto office.

In our five decades of existence we’ve seen — and led — huge innovations in an eclectic assortment of products, from typewriters, cash registers, adding machines, scientific calculators and word processors to electronic labellers, laser printers, fax machines, scanners and multi-function centres.

The years may pass, but our mantra never changes: Brother is at your side. We hire great people and deliver a superior customer experience. Always.

Canadian history

Read up on the whos, whats and whens of our proud and happy history in Canada.

1960-1990: Starting in Canada

When Brother began doing business in Canada, they did so with very little fanfare. Hal Kalker and his partners built Brother Canada from the ground up before handing the reigns to Takehisa Kanazawa. It was mid-February 1960 when Hal Kalker arrived in Montréal from New York with a simple mandate to cultivate new business north of the border. Having distinguished himself within Brother USA selling domestic sewing machines, he was ready to take on a new challenge.

For Brother, the 1960s were to become an era of diversification. In 1962, the Nippon Sewing Machine Manufacturing Co. changed its name to Brother Industries Ltd. In removing reference to sewing machines from its name, it became clear that the Yasui brothers had set their sights on a much larger objective. Three decades of business machine innovation had yielded an eclectic assortment of products, including a variety of typewriters, cash registers, adding machines, scientific calculators and word processors, in addition to the current line of electronic labellers, laser printers, fax machines and multi-function centres.

The origins of Brother’s Canadian corporate offices are perhaps as humble as those of Brother itself. The first of what was to become a quick succession of four progressively larger locations was a one-room office and some storage space they shared with the Eastern Venetian Blind Company. By the time Hal Kalker retired in 1990, Brother Canada was operating from a brand new office building on a two hundred thousand square foot lot that was once home to the Dollard-des-Ormeaux drive-in theatre – a testament that he had indeed cultivated sales north of the border.

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1990-1995: Rapid success

Takehisa Kanazawa’s mandate was simple: pursue aggressive sales growth and prepare for the future. And that he did, almost quadrupling sales during his five-year term as President. Kanazawa brought with him many elements of traditional Japanese management, which gained much notoriety in North American business publications during the 80s and 90s. Things like consensus management, long-term planning and the ringi process of decision-making were to become the building blocks of virtually all major decisions at Brother Canada during this period. It was by virtue of this management style, as well as the tremendous success of the business machine products, that Kanazawa was able to grow the business as quickly as he did.

As any successful entrepreneur will tell you, however, rapid success can be a double-edged sword. Additional sales means more customers, more products, more people and more demands on the organization’s infrastructure. In short, rapid success is often followed by acute growing pains. Since 1960, Brother Canada had experienced almost relentless growth and it had become evident that the company could no longer be run like the small business it once was.

During his term as President, Kanazawa set the foundation for a substantial investment in the IT infrastructure. He was instrumental in laying the foundation for future growth at Brother Canada. Having fulfilled his mandate, he was then summoned back to his homeland where he continues to play a significant role at the highest levels of Brother Industries Ltd.

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1995-1999: Bringing about change

While Jun Kamiya was brought in to address the infrastructure needs, perhaps his greatest achievement was doing so without ever having to sacrifice the needs of Brother’s customers — a tricky balance few executives ever strike. Kamiya came to Canada via Brother USA where he had followed a career path similar to other young rising stars within the Japanese organization. Although his background was originally human resources and then sales, it was perhaps his enjoyment of the latter that carried over into his role as President at Brother Canada. Kamiya thought nothing of getting on a plane or getting behind the wheel to go out and see customers face-to-face. His direct hand in the day-to-day sales business contributed substantially to building Brother’s business, particularly with office superstores.

Chief among Kanazawa’s legacies was the hiring of André Hudon. Hudon joined Brother Canada in 1995 during the transition period from Kanazawa to Kamiya, and was to become Kamiya’s chief architect in restructuring the organization. While he was VP Finance, Hudon was responsible for reorganizing the operations. This was exactly the expertise Kanazawa and Kamiya were looking for at Brother Canada.

While Hudon was brought in to reengineer the company’s infrastructure, Martin Featherston was given the responsibility of reengineering the superstructure. He arrived in 1994 as Ontario Regional Sales Manager and understood that in order to continue growing the business, he had to realign Brother’s sales department to accommodate two distinct sales groups: a commercial group and a retail group.

As with Kanazawa before him, upon completion of his mandate, Kamiya was called home to face new challenges in a career that — as anyone who knows him will attest — is destined for greatness.

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1999-2005: Great expectations

As so it was that the lead architect of the retooling years would be handed the reins with great expectations. André Hudon, the first Canadian president ever to lead Brother Canada, would meet these challenges head on. Having successfully reengineered Brother Canada’s infrastructure, André Hudon then set his sights on moving the company toward a more structured and professional way of managing a business. A seasoned lobbyist, Hudon’s focus was on business development.

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2005-present: Total customer experience

Building on its strong customer service legacy, Brother Canada has always had the commitment and expertise to help their B2B (business to business) customers in their search for improved efficiency and productivity. Over the years, Brother has won several awards in recognition of its excellent support, including the STAPLES Business Depot President’s Award for vendor of the year (2001 and 2008).

Following a transition period where Seigi Tsuji led Brother Canada, Martin Featherston was appointed President of Brother Canada in early 2005 after more than ten successful years with Brother, first in sales management and then later as Vice President of Sales, Product and Marketing.

Brother Canada has accumulated a variety of awards over the years. Accolades from customers increased significantly starting in 2005 with best vendor distinctions from its biggest partners including Corporate Express (2005), Office Depot (2005), Basics (2006) and Staples (2005, 2007, 2008).

With the insight earned over its 50 years of existence, Brother Canada’s top priorities for the years to come are to cultivate the Brother brand, to foster a superior customer experience at all levels of the organization and to bring to life the AT YOUR SIDE mantra.

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