Entrepreneurs here in the heart of the storm

Des entrepreneurs d’ici au cœur de la tempête

Of quebec entrepreneurs who conducted business in Florida to begin the long weekend of the fête nationale with an outbreak of 180 000 cases in the State that is paralyzed by the worst health crisis of its history.

“People are looking so what to do with their children that they buy a boat. In may, our sales have jumped by 36 %. In June, it’s going to explode of 50 %. The only problem is that there is no more inventory “, launched Patrick Galipeau, v.-p. of InterMarine in Fort Lauderdale.

Yesterday, nearly 9,500 new cases were reported in Florida, which has been slow to enact the containment when the epidemic has spread, bringing the total number of infected persons 178 594, which is more than the whole of Canada, which has just reached the 105 026.

In recent weeks, despite the explosion of the disease among young people, the quebec entrepreneurs have continued, as much to conduct business there, even if Quebecers were most rare under the sun.

In the world of construction, the COVID-19 has forced the general contractor Nicolas Gagnon Hollywood to change its customer in fourth gear.

“More than 90 % of my clients are from Quebec, so it has slowed down, but my 10 % of u.s. customers has increased because many of them have decided not to go on vacation and remodel their house in the place “, he launched.

The next day, the large banners have been taken by assault. “The Home Depot, we have a shortage of treated wood so there is a world that resonates terrace “, testified Nicolas Gagnon.

Pompano Beach, Jean-Philippe Drolet, owner of the manufacturer of kitchen counters, Delorie Countertops & Doors, has seen its sales collapse by 30 % during the crisis, but he considers himself fortunate to have been able to continue working.

“In some residential buildings, we were not allowed to return, even if it is considered essential. They wanted nothing to know. It caused a big slowdown “, he explained.

“This is historic “

Not surprisingly, the tourism sector, which has been the beating economic heart of the sunshine State with beaches, has not received the shot as well as them.

John Boutin, owner of the Windjammer Resort in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, was difficult for him to rent out its rooms.

“It is a historical fact. No one has ever seen it. In march, I was at 5 % occupancy, and in April to 3 %. Since it was reopened at the end of may, we had 4 %, 5 %. The last week, it was back up to 17 %, ” said the Sherbrooke birth John Boutin, owner of the Windjammer Resort in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea.

For Jean-Guy Sylvain, owner of the Plaza Hotel Fort Lauderdale and the Aztec RV Resort, Margate, the worst could still be to come.

“According to me, this winter, it’s going to be hard. There will be no big one that will go there. It does more than annoy us. That is what you want to do ? “, asked the one who also owns the Delta and the Concorde in Quebec city.

Fewer snowbirds ?

According to Linda Faille, Remax Reaction in Dania Beach, the bad press of the media to the location of Florida has been able to discourage the snowbirds, who become nervous and begin to call to sell their properties.

“When the snowbirds are gone in mid-march, it has cut our business. People don’t know if they will be able to return this fall because they do not know if the borders will be open or if their health insurance will cover the COVID-19 “, a-t-it advanced.

A concern that is shared by Marie Poupart, a journalist and writer in quebec followed by over 35 000 people on his page ” The Florida of Mary “, who lives in Palm Beach Garden.

“As long as there will be no insurers that will offer blankets in case of COVID-19, the snowbirds are going to be very anxious to come in Florida. The people are sad. They have fear, ” she insisted.

Louis-Olivier Guay, a member of the board of directors of the Canada Chamber of Commerce Florida, based in Boca Raton, the crisis could pay big dividends in the long term to some, but it will leave traces.

“Those who have a significant dependence on tourism, including snowbirds, are likely to have more difficulty, as it is expected already to a certain decline in the number of visitors in the fall and next winter. It is very likely that in the restaurant industry many will not survive “, he analyzed.

♦ More than 3.5 million canadian visitors are going to Florida each year, including more than 1.2 Million Quebecers. More than 500 companies are present there, according to the Consulate general of Canada in Miami.

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