Fearing a very negative reaction from its members, the Association des microbrassies du Québec has decided not to hold its ninth annual conference in Shawinigan in 2018. Another demonstration of the hangover that characterizes a fringe of this tight woven environment after the announcement of the acquisition of the Devil’s Hole by Molson Coors on November 9th.
C Annual e appointment attracts 600 to 700 participants from across the province. To give an idea of the scale of the event, almost all the rooms at Espace Shawinigan were virtually reserved to accommodate no less than 80 exhibitors, workshops and conferences. A banquet was planned at the Auberge Gouverneur. The Comfort Inn and Marineau Hotels were also to host the participants who were expected from November 19 to 21, 2018.
The first eight AMBQ conferences were held in Montreal or Quebec City. Since September, discussions have intensified for the ninth annual meeting to be held in Shawinigan.
Then came the famous transaction announced on November 9th, which changed everything.
The 8th AMBQ convention was held less than two weeks later, from November 20 to 22 in Quebec City. The sale of the Devil’s Hole to Molson Coors was on everyone’s lips at this time. Given the very high degree of emotivity observed as a result of this transaction, the organization decided to adjust the shot for its next appointment.
The AMBQ had never confirmed Shawinigan’s choice in writing, but his actions clearly went in that direction, according to the testimonies collected.
“They had to wait until the end of the last convention to formalize the dates and the location,” says Paul-Nadir Nazair, Director of Sales at Auberge Gouverneur. “But verbally, we were told that it was done at home. We expected the official in writing and after … we know the rest. ”
“It was not official, but unofficial,” corroborates Josianne Gravel, manager of the salons and events at Espace Shawinigan.
“It was in my calendar; I was doing the contract. It was advanced to this point. We were really on the edge. Everything was fine, the prices had been approved. For us, it was a major event. When I asked for a follow-up on November 30th, my answer was that the association had decided not to organize this congress with us for political reasons. ”
Marie-Ève Myrand, Executive Director of the AMBQ, does not run away. In the current context, announcing the presentation of the 2018 congress in Shawinigan took on the appearance of an impossible mission.
“Our role was to get people beyond the very emotional effect of a transaction that, for many, has been experienced as treason,” she says. “It plays very hard in the middle. We fight giants and see that the Devil’s Hole made that choice, some of our members took it hard. It would not have been appropriate for us to make this announcement. It would have sent a special message. ”
“Are we really going to encourage Molson?” Asks the executive director. “I nodded to the convention center and said it may be a great opportunity to challenge Molson to have the shareholders’ meeting in Shawinigan! It must be consistent, it has collateral impacts. ”
Ms. Myrand acknowledges that Shawinigan had the hospitality facilities to host the association’s first annual convention outside Montreal and Quebec City. The evolution of relations over the next few months between Le Trou du diable and members of the AMBQ will dictate the opportunity to officially choose Shawinigan for the annual conference in the future a little further.
“The year 2019 may be a better time,” says Myrand. “Going to Shawinigan (next year) was putting one at risk in front of our members, because some of them have lived this way very emotionally. We do not take
not just act of a transaction. There is also the fear of a competition that will grow on the shelves. We will not have the same cars to get to the finish line! ”
Sad, but understandable
Co-founder of Le Trou du diable and former director of the Quebec Microbreweries Association, Isaac Tremblay is disappointed to see a major congress escape from Shawinigan. However, the time was probably wrong for such an announcement, while remaining convinced that it will only be partially postponed.
Before leaving his seat at the AMBQ, Mr. Tremblay assured the Board of Directors of his full collaboration in the event that the 2018 conference was presented in Shawinigan. But in the context of a surprisingly recent transaction, he felt the carpet slipping under his feet.
“I find it sad,” he says. “But I understand that the board had to make that decision two weeks after the announcement (of the sale). It may have been a little too cool. They acted
cautiously and this is only in revenge for 2019. All the file is mounted. We still have a beautiful brewery in Mauricie. ”
“I think the board wanted to avoid dividing the membership,” he adds. “The ca is there to represent them and in this case, there was no consensus in the room. They kept the status quo. They did what they thought was the most logical. ”
Almost a month after the announcement of this transaction, Mr. Tremblay does not seem too disturbed by the sometimes virulent comments that have emerged, especially on social networks.
Again, he manages to separate things.
“I understand that emotionally, people have the impression of losing a brother in arms,” he says. “Often, those who speak are those who have something to externalize. There are also a lot of people I’ve talked to who understand. We remain the same world, in the same place, who will continue to brew the same beer in Shawinigan. There is still work to be done in the beer business and Devil’s Hole will continue to do so. The Association des microbrasseries du Québec and the Quebec Brewers Association have been working together for years to advance issues. ”
Isaac Tremblay knows this area well enough to believe that once the dust settles, Shawinigan will become a logical destination for the AMBQ’s annual conference.
This is also the impression felt by Valérie Lalbin, General Director of the Office of Tourism, Fairs and Congresses. She says her organization has been working on Shawinigan’s bid for two years to attract this event.
“Everything took them home in 2018 normally,” she understands. “Nothing was officially signed, but we were more than confident.”
Ms. Lalbin pointed out that there is an occasional unforeseen event that completely changes the pace of the current negotiations. It may be a labor dispute, a
political crisis, for example. In this file, the director general reminds us that we must not underestimate the end of the road that has been traveled.
“For us, this is only part of the delivery,” she predicts. “What I want to remember is that Shawinigan has shown the quality of his application to this association. Shawinigan has done quite well enough for the congress to be held, a historic first. It’s rewarding! For us, 2019 or 2020, there is nothing excluded with the AMBQ. ”