By Normand and Nicole Latreille
As multi-unit franchisees on the cusp of opening our fourth Quesada Burritos & Tacos restaurant, we were thrilled to win the franchisee of the year award for 2017. We wouldn’t have gotten to this point without a lot of hard work and dedication and we have big plans in order to keep building on our success in the next few years.
Both Nicole and I grew up in Windsor, Ont. We really liked living there, especially because it meant family and friends were a big part of our lives. Windsor used to be a big blue-collar city, so both our families initially came here for work. My parents were from Quebec and Nicole’s were from Sudbury, Ont. We spent a lot of time during summer vacation and holidays going back to Quebec and Northern Ontario to spend time with our extended families.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve enjoyed hands-on work. I knew early on I wanted to get into skilled trades. As early as grade school, I enjoyed taking apart my bicycles and rebuilding them, and as I grew older, I started to do the same thing with my cars. In high school, I took every opportunity to enroll in auto, electrical, woodworking and drafting classes. My goal was to be an auto mechanic, an electrician or something similar.
I was an outdoorsy kid. I really enjoyed family camping trips and my summer vacations, but didn’t have any specific goal in terms of what I wanted to be when I got older. I just knew I wanted to work with others and be part of a team.
Normand and I first met in high school. We really didn’t talk very much during the first three years, but in our senior year, we finally started hanging out. Normand actually waited until the last day of high school in 1985 to ask me out on a date. He figured it was his last chance before the summer break.
Once we started dating, we realized how much we enjoyed each other’s company. We found we shared the same values—for example, we both consider family our number one priority. We got married by the time I was 21, as it looked like Normand was going to join the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and we didn’t want to live apart.
When I graduated high school, it seemed only natural to get training in the field I was most interested in. I went to St. Clair College in Windsor for three semesters to become an industrial maintenance mechanic. After my classes were finished, I was required to put in work hours to get my certification. However, finding a placement was difficult with the economic downturn that hit Windsor in the late 1980s.
I realized it might take time to get started in my trade, so I joined the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) and became an integral system tech, working on several different aircraft. The job was based in Greenwood, N.S., where Nicole and I spent four years together. The hardest part of living in Nova Scotia was being away from our families, but it’s a beautiful part of the country. The people there were amazing.
When you’re looking for work on the east coast, you often have to just take what you can get. I started working at a Subway franchise there in 1990, which was my introduction to the food-service industry.
I found I enjoyed the job quite a bit. The people I worked with there were great, and I also liked interacting with the customers. Greenwood is small, so the community was very tight-knit.