Volume 14 | Issue 1 | Year 2011

Picard Ovens Inc. may be a relatively small enterprise, but it houses large ambitions for its customers. For more than 50 years, the Victoriaville (Québec) Canada company has focused on improving its client’s productivity and, in turn, profit margins. It recently turned up the heat, as indicated by its new tag line “Ignite the Future.”
Picard – whose oven product line includes bakery and pastry, pizza, rotisserie and industrial models – serves customers throughout North America. Still, it’s content (even intent) to remain a modestly sized organization. This matches its customer profile. “Our ovens are sold to the mom-and-pop bakeries and the medium sized bakeries as well as pizzerias,” says Kristine Marchetti, Picard Oven’s marketing manager. “Our ovens are designed to help them increase their output. For instance, for pizzerias we offer a high-tech oven designed for people who do constant business. They can put out 170 pizzas in an hour. But this equipment is geared to local shops and smaller chains. We don’t work with the larger chains that have 300 stores or more. Neither do we serve the large bakeries, such as Wonder Bread. We wouldn’t be able to furnish them with all of the equipment that they need.”

Though the scope is kept small, Picard Ovens has a very nice niche. “One of the biggest advantages we offer – besides our excellent product – is our size,” comments Marchetti. “Because we’re a smaller company, we can provide ‘face to face’ service. People know us on a personal basis, and we’ve become their partners.”

Size advantage also relates to what happens within the company, which has about 50 employees. “We’ve created a family atmosphere, where everyone feels connected to what is going on,” adds Marchetti. “Everyone considers this company their pride and joy, and that translates into how we deal with customers. We’re truly interested in their success, and they know that we’re interested. Their success translates into our own success.”

That’s why Picard Oven’s niche is a profitable one. “While we are small, our growth, in terms of revenue has been huge. Further, our evolution, in terms of product, has been remarkable,” says Marchetti. “It has contributed to our success and compelled us to completely rebrand ourselves.”

The focus of the rebranding is that tag line “Ignite the Future.” As Marchetti indicates, the phrase was developed to communicate that Picard Ovens provides the highest standards for design, energy efficiency, manufacturing quality and customer service. You can also toss innovation into that equation. That has been an important element from the very beginning.

The company was founded in 1957 by Lauréat Picard. It remains a family owned business – its current third-generation owners are brothers Gilles and Guy Picard. “They have been the active force in the success of the company since 1981,” reveals Marchetti.

Founder Lauréat Picard, himself a baker, started out by doing repairs on bakery equipment. Eventually, he began producing ovens. What he accomplished was a revolution, in both the literal and figurative sense. “He began by making rotating ovens,” relates Marchetti. “It was an old technology that he brought up to modern standards.”

And to modern needs.

“The old rotating ovens were gigantic, with single shelves that would slowly rotate,” Marchetti continues. “The equipment had a good reputation, but Lauréat Picard introduced a mini revolving oven with double shelves. Instead of having four rotating shelves, you now had eight. So this represented a huge technological advancement.”

Today, Picard Ovens is noted for producing the food industry’s finest ovens for the kind of customers its serves. Most commercial ovens don’t meet the needs of the smaller bakeries, which are face with changing tastes. The company’s customers seek ovens that address the need for variety while saving money on energy costs. Picard’s ovens do all of that; at the same time, they are user friendly, multi-purpose and very affordable.

The company describes its ovens as the workhorse of the modern bakery or pizzeria, and as a means to “ignite” its customers’ future, particularly businesses that are upgrading or designing a new kitchen. For such clients, the Picard option represents a good investment, as the ovens are designed to last a long time.

Advantages are numerous. The solution easily fits into a business where kitchen space and budgets are limited. Further, the ovens enable customers to simultaneously make a variety of products. Ovens are both easy to use and easy to maintain and include features such as recipe pre-set buttons and easy-to access settings.

In addition, as Picard Ovens views customers as partners, it offers optimal service. The company will take the time to assess a customer’s unique needs and then recommend the kind of oven capable of meeting those needs. Picard also provides ongoing support: Its products, which are sold through an expansive dealer network, come with robust warranties.

Low energy consumption is also an important consideration for the typical Picard client, and that’s another advantage the company provides. Further, with an inner ventilation system and revolving trays, the oven can bake a wide variety of products at the same time, no matter how much time each one needs.

“In the past 15 years, our revolving oven has been a leader in its category,” says Marchetti. “But a lot of changes in the company have since transpired. For instance, we came out with stone conveyor ovens for pizza, which is something that no one else does.”

The line of stone conveyor ovens offers the advantages of a traditional deck or brick ovens because it bakes on stone. No matter the amount of pizzas cooked per hour, the quality is always the same. The result: superior pizza that keeps customers coming back for more.

Picard produces all of its equipment in a single location (its Victoriaville site). “We make everything that goes into our ovens, except for the granite baking stone, which we have to import,” says Marchetti. “Our employees do everything, from the bending of the metal to the welding. We also have our own research and development team that designs our ovens.”

Indeed, from this small but vibrant setting, the innovations keep coming. “As far as technology, we’ve come out with a remake of the revolving oven that includes what we call the Aeromax air circulation system, which provides radiant heat but offers the same advantages of a convection oven,” describes Marchetti. “Also, we have developed a new modulating flame burner. The flame will adjust itself but never go out, which saves a substantial amount of energy. We’ve also come out with a brand new product called Modulex, a modular type of oven. The technology came from Europe, and no one in North America but us is making it. So that is something we are very excited about.”

That’s part of what the “Ignite the Future” slogan is all about. “Constant innovation and development is the direction we’re moving in, and we want to be at the vanguard,” say Marchetti.

It’s really already there, as far as the niche it serves. The company has set high standards for itself and its customers when it comes to new design, energy efficiency, product quality and customer service. Thanks to this approach the Picard product is becoming the oven of choice for many bakeries and pizzerias across the continent.

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