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December 2004 – Atlantic Business

The Sweet Smell of Success
Two entrepreneurs in Moncton, NB, have literally taken the time to smell the roses and are now parlaying the moment into a multi-million dollar business going head-to-head against the likes of S.C. Johnson and Proctor & Gamble. Luc Jalbert and Don Goguen, owners of Prelam Enterprises Inc., are in the air freshener business and after just 18 months they have become the Atlantic David to a group of international Goliaths.

With brokers in the Maritimes, Québec, Ontario and Western Canada and warehouse facilities in Moncton and Branford, Ontario, the Jalbert-Goguen team continues to expand its growing line of national retailers to include Wal-Mart, Zellers, Canadian Tire, Sobeys, Home Hardware, Petro-Canada, IGA, Uniprix, UniSelect and Shoppers. They also continue to push for prime retail space, inching alongside the big guys for optimum customer reach.

Business hasnʼt always smelled so sweet. In the early days, Jalbert and Goguen learned that introducing new, innovative products to an uninformed marketplace is a hard way to make money. “If there was one thing we learned from the though times,” says Luc Jalbert, “it was that, in order to be successful, Prelam had to have products that consumers could identify with and want… over and over again.”

Their fortunes changed after a trip to Hong Kong almost two years ago. Happening upon an innovative car air freshener, the partners brought the product into Canada and test marketed it at retail operations like Irving gas bars, Jean Coutu and Shoppers. The air freshener was an immediate hit and today, Prelam is Canadaʼs premier air freshener company – rising to number four in sales amidst competitive superstars like S.C. Johnson.

December 2004 – Telegraph Journal

Prelam getting whiff of success
Moncton company hopes toilet freshener will be the next big thing among its air-care products. Moncton – Two Moncton entrepreneurs hope to make a big splash dealing with a subject thatʼs generally taboo. Luc Jalbert and Don Goguen, owners of Prelam Enterprises Ltd., expect their ʻJustʼa Dropʻ product will “which the way people go to the bathroom” by eliminating unpleasant smells.
The new product line, which involves squirting a drop of the pleasantly-scented solution in the toilet bowl prior to use, eliminates both odors and the need for other air fresheners, bathroom fans or even the humble match.

“Itʼs an embarrassing situation for everybody,” Mr. Jalbert explains during an interview at his firmʼs west-end office where the companyʼs five employees work. “It has a neutralizer that actually kills everything while youʼre going about things. This saves the embarrassment.”
Prelam, which competes against international heavy-weights like S.C. Johnson and Procter & Gamble in the air freshener business, will unveil its new product line at the large-scale Grocery Innovation trade show in Toronto on Monday.

“Itʼs fully biodegradable, safe for your septic tank and non-toxic,” Mr. Jalbert says, noting the product, which he first came across during one of his frequent business trips to China, uses plant extracts.

Wal-Mart has also already signed on to begin carrying the product early next year and the pair hopes to entice other stores across the country to begin carrying the product.

Contunue…Mr. Goguen points out that the small bottle also comes with a travel case, meaning you can bring it anywhere from sports events and house parties to business meetings and the office.

The two men started developing, importing and selling air-care products after a tumultuous couple of years when it seemed every product Prelam had was impossible to get to market without an exorbitant and unaffordable price-tag.

“But if there was one thing we learned from the tough times, it was that in order to be successful Prelam had to have products that consumers could identify with and want over and over again,” Mr. Jalbert says.

The latest product is made in China, but Mr. Jalbert says he makes sure the factories treat workers well. Things really got going for Prelam which was incorporated in 1999 and until this week also did lamination work, about two years ago. During a market trip to Hong Kong, Mr. Jalbert happened upon an innovative car air freshener and realized he might be on to something big.

He brought in a supply to Canada and test marketed it with retail operations like Irving gas bars, Jean Coutu and Shoppers Drug Mart. Mr. Jalbert says the air fresheners proved to be an immediate hit and now the company is Canadaʼs premier air freshener company rising to number four in sales in a very competitive sector.

Prelam now has brokers throughout Canada and warehouse facilities in Moncton and Brampton, Ontario.

“The big guys have 3,000 people working for them in research and development, weʼre just two guys,” Mr.Jalbert says. “our goal is to become very strong in Canada and then penetrate the U.S. market.”

November 2004

November: Excerpt from “Balancing Act” (Canadian Grocer Magazine)

“Take air care products, for example. The niche has now become a battleground for Fortune 500 companies such as SC Johnson, along with plucky newcomers such as Prelam Enterprises Ltd., a Moncton, NB. Company that develops and markets scented products for cars and homes. Prelam marketing manager Luc Jalbert explains: “The air care business is worth $130 million a year in Canada and grocery stores do 40% of it.” At SC Johnson’s Toronto office, product manager Tara St. John notes that women buy 89% of the products and that scents come and go at the rate of 25 a year. Battles are being fought for the loyalty of the noses of the nation. Grocers are trophies in this market that, Jalbert says, is growing at 12% to 15% a year, driven by a desire for comfort. Soon Prelam will launch a product that Jalbert says, will revolutionize Canadians’ bathroom habits.”
*Excerpt taken from Canadian Grocer Magazine – November 2004