In 1991, the maple syrup industry in Quebec was struggling. This situation dramatically impacted the maple sugaring division of IPL Inc., a leader in the Canadian plastics industry located in St-Damien-de-Buckland, Quebec. One of its employees, Christian Chabot, saw this as a business opportunity. He was the best salesman in the division for the purchase of marketing activities in this rather neglected sector. Finally, he decided to incorporate CDL Maple Sugaring Equipment Inc. The business was opened in St-Lazare-de-Bellechasse, Quebec.
Christian Chabot partnered with his two brothers, Jean-Marie and Yvan, to set up the final operations. Jean-Marie Chabot, mechanical engineer, then R&D director of IPL and responsible for the development of its maple sugaring products division, was recognized in 1970 as a pioneer of tubing systems for vacuum harvesting maple water (Sysvac). Most of his work had been done in collaboration with Université Laval and the Quebec Ministry of Agriculture (St-Norbert experimental farm).
In 1971, he was testing the performance of IPL’s products in his own 5,000-tap maple stand in Armagh, Quebec, before selling them to maple syrup producers. The other CDL owner, Yvan Chabot, was previously employed by the Coop Fédérée de Québec as an accounting and finance manager, serving farmers. The brothers’ expertise was perfectly complementary, which helped ensure a smooth start. CDL opened its headquarters in 1991. The initial objective was to gradually expand the company by satisfying all the needs of North American maple syrup producers under one roof and providing exceptional service. The three Chabot brothers made their strategic decisions accordingly:
In 1994, they acquired Évaporateurs Dallaire from St-Évariste-de-Beauce, a specialist in the manufacture of stainless steel maple sap evaporators and tanks. A serious fire at the plant in 2009 led to its relocation and significant expansion in the industrial centre of La Guadeloupe in Beauce.
In 1999, in order to meet the ever-increasing demand for products in New Brunswick and the Bas-Saint-Laurent region, the directors opened the first CDL Cabano regional centre in Quebec. This inauguration allowed them to get closer to producers in these more remote regions. Since then, the company has opened more distribution centres for its extensive product lines in order to meet increased demand for its products, expand its markets and get closer to its maple syrup producers—a critical factor for remaining competitive in this exclusive North American sector. CDL now has 25 regional corporate stores in Canada and 17 in the United States.
In the early 2000s, they moved their headquarters into a much larger building, with an office, retail store, manufacturing and assembly plant (extractors and concentrators) and spacious central warehouse. They also opened a machining centre equipped with the latest digital control and computer-aided design (CAD) technologies for producing stainless steel parts. Together, these new facilities have helped the company meet the growing needs of staff and clients and expand CDL’s product lines. This investment has also allowed the company to become 100% integrated in the manufacturing of maple syrup equipment.
In 2002, it was time for the next generation to take over. Jean-Marie’s sons, Vallier, Martin and Marc-André, joined the company as owners to replace their uncles. In 2004, Daniel Lalanne joined the Chabot family. His financial support was a huge asset to CDL’s expansion into the United States.
In 2005, the company purchased Waterloo Small USA (better known as Maple Pro) in St. Albans, Vermont, to expand onto the American market. Maple Pro was owned by Garth Atherton, who remains a sales manager in the US to this day.
In 2014, CDL decided to acquire Atkinson Maple Syrup Supplies, making it the largest distributor of maple sugaring equipment in Ontario. This acquisition was very beneficial for CDL, and allowed the family to better understand the market.
These strategic acquisitions and investments have enabled CDL to become and remain the industry leader for several years. Today, the company has over 300 employees in North America in its four plants and 40 corporate stores.
The Chabot family (majority owner of CDL) has also been producing maple syrup for five generations. The brothers and their father are also maple syrup producers themselves and own a 70,000-tap maple grove in Armagh, Quebec. For nearly 50 years, the family sugarbush has served as a testing ground for new CDL products. It’s also a place where the family meets regularly to renew their passion for the profession and prepare the next generation to take over.