Olymel president and CEO Réjean Nadeau passes away

At the helm for 25 years, Nadeau is credited with transforming the company and growing its footprint beyond Quebec
Olymel president and CEO Réjean Nadeau wearing a suit and tie
Réjean Nadeau, president and CEO of Olymel L.P. from 1996 to 2021 (CNW Group/Olymel l.p.)

After a brief battle with cancer, Olymel president and CEO Réjean Nadeau died Thursday at the age of 71 surrounded by loved ones, the company announced on Friday.

Nadeau had a long and successful career in the food processing sector. He joined La Coop fédérée (now Sollio Groupe coopératif and Olymel's parent company) in 1976. He led the company from 1996 to 2021.

Nadeau expanded Olymel's operations from its home province of Quebec to Ontario, Alberta, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick through partnerships, mergers and acquisitions in the pork and poultry sectors.

Under his leadership, Olymel was recognized with a number of awards for its products, marketing and human resources management. Between 2011 and 2019, Olymel won seven Mercure Awards including Large Business of the Year in 2013. That same year, Nadeau was inducted into the Association des détaillants en alimentation (ADA) Hall of Fame for lifetime achievement. 

"His entrepreneurial spirit, his resilience in the face of challenges in the agri-food industry, his unwavering confidence in the qualities of the women and men working alongside him, and his humanism have been sources of inspiration for all of us and will remain so long after his passing," said Paul Beauchamp, senior vice-president of Olymel, in a press release. "We are losing a friend, but we are keeping the model of a man whose values we must adopt and in whose footsteps we will follow."

On Oct. 7, Nadeau notified the board he was unable to continue his duties due to illness. Yanick Gervais, Olymel's senior vice-president, operations at Olymel, has stepped into the role for the interim.

Nadeau is survived by his children Catherine and Frédéric; his grandchildren Charlie-Rose, Eliam, Milo, Axel and Marly; and his partner Maryse Gauvin.

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