SME Universe |  Plush heavyweight enters Costco

SME Universe | Plush heavyweight enters Costco

It is a decisive advance carried out without problems.

Posted at 8:00 am

marc tison

marc tison

Manimo’s heavy stuffed animals are making a place for themselves on the shelves of Costco and Walmart Accès pharma drugstores.

Designed by Longueuil-based company fdmt for children aged 3 to 12, these comforting one to two kilogram soft toys ease the mind while weighing down the body. They provide a sense of calm in anxiety-provoking situations and can promote focus and concentration.

They were distributed mainly in schools and specialized clinics, but the pandemic has increased the pressure on children and has made the general public aware of the problems of youth stress.

“Recently, we’ve really seen an opening,” says Michelle Vallée, director of sales and marketing at fdmt. “With the pandemic and the level of stress, we talk more about the difficulties in concentrating. »

“So when we knocked on the doors of major retailers, there was an immediate awareness of the need to help kids manage their stress. »

The first contacts with Costco were established at the end of 2021. The Manimo plushies will appear in 10 stores next October. Thanks to the agreement signed at the beginning of this year with Accès pharma, the stuffed animals are showing their full weight in some thirty new points of sale. The fdmt’s crackdown over the past year has seen Manimo’s wildlife collection appear in most Quebec pharmacy chains.

“We really listen fast, rejoices Michelle Vallée. It has to be done, for a small company like ours, which comes with a luxury at a fairly high price. But it is all the added value for its therapeutic side that is really interesting. »

The idea came to fdmt president and founder Karine Gagner in the early 2000s.

“What was a big motivation was her own son who was diagnosed with autism,” says Valley. “It was a product that did not exist in the market. He worked with occupational therapists to develop a soft toy that was therapeutic. Because deep pressure that can be put on a good surface of the body will really help children who have special needs. »

Manimo’s soft toys are weighed down with small recyclable plastic balls whose mass adapts to the body through the small animals’ stuffed envelope.

With around thirty employees, fdmt specializes in the distribution of “sensory products”. Manimo plush toys, retailed in four animal versions, are the only products designed by the company.

For fifteen years they were made in Quebec, but increased demand had led the small company to outsource production to Asia.

The contracts signed this year, however, open a new era for the company.

“It’s a complete game changer,” says Michelle Vallée. With Costco, we talk about popsicles. It is very different, and it also brings us a change in the business model. »

So much so that the company wonders if it might not be time to repatriate Manimo manufacturing.

“It is a project that we are studying, because transport becomes more expensive, and we also have to be sure of the raw material,” reports the director.

“We think we could have better control here with a fully automated line, which also means very significant investments. »

A project that weighs a lot economically, but that can be comforting.

Qualinet overwhelmed by the deluge


Qualinet’s phone system was overwhelmed after torrential rains hit Montreal on September 13.

Qualinet’s phone system was overwhelmed after torrential rains hit Montreal on September 13. The torrential rain that bathed some areas of the metropolitan area with 40 mm of water in one hour caused sewage overflows and damage to thousands of homes, businesses, industries and institutions, in turn causing an avalanche of calls to the telephone service of the specialized company in disaster recovery. Nearly a thousand customers contacted Qualinet in less than three hours in the Montreal and Lanaudière regions. The volume of calls received in 90 minutes by some call centers was such that it caused an overload of the system. “We have come to realize that severe storms are becoming more frequent in Quebec and that our 24/7 telephone service sometimes faces capacity challenges in terms of the number of simultaneous calls,” the statement said. company president, Éric Pichette, in a press release. “In this context, I confirm that we will quickly implement a system similar to that of 911 services to always respond to our customers. It will be an investment of almost $200,000. »

A first store for KaseMe


Illustration of the KaseMe store, which will open its doors on September 21 at the Laurier Québec shopping center

Quebecois maker of protective cell phone cases KaseMe is venturing out of its shell and opening its first store in Quebec. KaseMe had opened the door two years ago with a pop-up store in the same location over the holidays. The store will open on September 21 at the Laurier Quebec shopping center. Founded in 2015, KaseMe creates and prints plastic mobile phone cases with exploded graphics in Beauce. Since then, it has expanded its line to headphone cases, laptop cases, and chargers. In addition to its website, the company has already distributed its products in 250 points of sale of various chains in the country. She saw her turnover rise to 7.5 million in seven years. With the addition of this first store, KaseMe increases the number of its employees to 30. She plans to expand the concept throughout Quebec. If consumers answer the call, of course.

Quebec’s polymer sector is building a binder

Alliance Polymères Québec, a group of companies in the plastics and composites sector, launched on September 13 a collaboration portal for its industry, a kind of link for the 500 companies in the sector, mostly SMEs. “We’ve been working on this for over a year and a half,” says Simon Chrétien, CEO of the Alliance. “It’s not just a portal, an extranet or an intranet. It is a social network of the industry. It offers plastic parts manufacturers, their customers, suppliers and distributors “a central location, a common home, where they can find everything they need in terms of information.” The portal presents a directory of companies in the sector, document templates, a discussion forum, exchange circles. It also offers a terminology dictionary of 500 French plastics industry terms and their English equivalents, developed with financial support from the Office québécois de la langue française, “so everyone speaks the same language,” says Simon Christian. The freely accessible portal is also aimed at all companies interested in the sector, he says. “You can find information, suppliers, partners there. Definition of binder, according to the portal dictionary: “Adhesive material used to join a batch of components (dry particles, plastics, fibers, etc.) to each other. »


Blue Fork sits with La Table Ronde. The St. Lawrence Marine Resources Sustainable Management Program at the Exploramer science museum in Sainte-Anne-des-Monts has established a partnership with the La Table Ronde collective to certify 78 of its restaurants. This certification establishes links between fishermen and gourmet restaurateurs and supports the marketing of Quebec marine products.

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