TRAVEL THE WORLD – NEW WINNER, NEW JOURNEY

With its ‘’Travel the World’’ program, Groupe Dynamite enables its employees to experience one of life’s richest and most rewarding experiences.

Kristina, a Sales Associate at Dynamite, shares with us her journey and the highlights of her recent trip to Amsterdam.

Q1: What was your first reaction when you heard you had won the contest?

When my Manager called me to announce that I was the winner, I did not believe it at first.  I was in the top 10 the first week of the contest but as the weeks passed I went down in the rankings, therefore hearing the news that I won came as a real surprise!

Q2: Why Amsterdam?

I have been fortunate to have traveled a lot. With twelve countries and several cities under my belt, I can say that Amsterdam was definitely a destination I wanted to revisit. I love architectural history and experiencing different cultures but it’s the old charm of Amsterdam that truly stole my heart. I feel very fortunate that I got to rediscover a city dear to my heart with my boyfriend and that GD made it all possible!

Q3: How did you find the Dutch culture?

When I travel, I like to try new food and immerse myself in the local culture. However, what we ate most were fries because they sell them at every corner! (Fun fact: Dutch eat their fries with mayonnaise instead of ketchup!) I love that Amsterdam has such a laid back lifestyle. Everyone there is so friendly and carefree.

Q4: What were the highlights of your trip?

  1. Anne Frank’s house

Learning about Anne Frank’s story during World War II in school is very different than being on site and seeing it with your own eyes.

  1. The Icebar

At the entrance, we were given a thermal coat to keep us warm since literally everything was made of ice: the furniture, the walls and even the glass they serve the drinks in!

  1. Canal dinner cruise

This is a great way to explore the city while enjoying a nice meal because you get to see buildings that you wouldn’t be able to see on foot.

Q5: What advice would you give to employees wishing to win this contest?

Stay focused and keep your eyes on the prize. Just because you dropped in rank does not mean you cannot win in the end. You have to keep pushing for that exceptional customer service and be true to yourself. Style your customers with your favourite pieces and the recommendations will come naturally.

 

The Latest Buzz!

Over the last few months, our stores have come alive thanks to the work of our engaged and motivated teams who are always giving their best to ensure that every customer is inspired by our collections.  

Several meetings took place in order for employees to familiarize themselves with the latest trends, allowing them to contribute to the success of their store.  It was also the perfect opportunity to celebrate, encourage and highlight good work!

Here are some pictures taken at recent events:

team_spirit_GD

211-5116-269262-8273-286-7

team_spirit_gd

 

 

CATCHING UP WITH STEPHANE, OUR TRIPLE IRONMAN

Groupe Dynamite has many employees who constantly push their limits, both at work and in their personal lives. Stephane Parsons, Director, Total Rewards, is one of these employees, distinguishing himself by his desire to constantly beat his best performance. For him, it’s never good enough! Ex judo champion and now a triple Ironman, Stephane has truly found a perfect fit with GD, having spent 11 years working at the heart of a company where an emphasis on performance is omnipresent.

Q1: Which qualities that distinguish you at GD would make all the difference during a race? Persistance and discipline.

Q2: Is the preparation for an Ironman competition mostly mental or physical? It’s both because when your body starts to give up (which is inevitable), your head takes over and your thoughts push you to continue.

Q3: What is your biggest challenge? Juggling work, 9 hours of training each week, and family… it’s quite the challenge!

Q4: How do you face adversity? At work, I try to get a global sense of things and to take a step back with regard to the situation at hand in order to make the best decision. As an athlete, you must accept the fact that you will have to face many situations: changing weather conditions, physical pain, mechanical problems, etc. You have no choice but to adapt if you want to reach the finish line.

Q5: What are your goals for the future? At work, I’d like to continue with my development while creating and implementing programs that would benefit the company. In terms of sports, I think I have reached the pinnacle!

Q6: What are you most proud of? At work, I’m proud of my team and all the work we accomplish together on a daily basis. Above all, I’m most proud of being able to show my two kids that it’s possible to accomplish anything you want in life, as long as you put all the necessary effort into it.

Q7: After three Ironman competitions, are you ready to leave the sport? I recently asked myself, “Are you ready to sit out the next competition, to skip your turn and not be part of the celebrations?” To this day, my answer is “no.”

Stephane participated in the Mont-Tremblant Ironman competition on August 21st, which consisted of 3.8 km of swimming, 180 km of biking, and 42.2 km of running, which he completed in 12:46:17.

Mini Survey

  1. Your mentor/person who inspires you: Terry Fox
  2. One place in Montreal where we would run into you: Mont-Tremblant! 🙂
  3. Your favourite clothing item/accessory: Jeans, t-shirt and a baseball cap 
  4. Your style icon: Paul Walker
  5. Your daily ritual: Hugging my kids every morning before I leave for work
  6. Your dream destination:Scandinavian countries: Finland, Sweden
  7. The word you use most often:“Go go go”
  8. In high school, you dreamt of becoming…an F1 driver 
  9. To take your mind off of things, you… work on some renovation projects
  10. Your guilty pleasure: a few not-so-manly songs on my girlfriend’s iPhone

Operation Back-2-School

Employees from stores across the USA teamed up to help families in need. The mission: donate 200 backpacks filled with school supplies. As a friendly challenge, the district that collected the most backpacks would have the privilege of selecting the school that would receive the donation. Motivation was high and it showed, because in the end the objective was surpassed, with a total of 675 backpacks donated! These children will go back to school with huge smiles on their faces. Go Team USA! Thank you for making a difference!

BTS_backpack1BTS_backpack2BTS_backpack4

Meet Adam Aspelund, the Chef Behind the Atrium’s Cuisine

Growing up on a farm, Adam has always been exposed to delicious meals concocted with fresh products. Although he started cooking early on, he was not convinced that this was his calling. It was only after an internship in France as part of an ITHQ’s signature program that he truly fell in love with the profession. Having since worked in high-end hotels and restaurants, and having co-owned a restaurant as well, Adam perfected his cuisine style and grew as a chef. This is a good thing because serving quality food worthy of a bistro, every day for more than 600 people, has its challenges, even for an experienced chef!

We met up with Adam as he was preparing strawberry rhubarb jam and decided to grill him with these questions. Atrium bestsellers: General Tao Chicken and Sushi Pizza An Atrium dish you are proud of: Homemade baked goods such as bread. Upcoming new dishes you are excited about:

  • Poke: Hawaiian raw fish salad is a huge trend right now. We will be seeing more of this kind of food in the Atrium since the tartare is already very popular with employees.
  • Homemade frozen desserts: They will coincide with the summer season.
  • Pickling: You will soon find many jams and pickles available at the Atrium.

Style of your cuisine: Canadian because like its residents it’s really diversified. A chef that inspires you: Claude Pelletier, from Le club chasse et pêche, for having worked with him and learning so much just by watching him. Also, Eric Ripert, chef at Le Bernadin in NYC, for his simplicity. Essential ingredient in your personal kitchen: (without hesitation) Garlic! Something we would be surprised to find in your fridge: Velveeta cheese Favourite recipe to prepare (specialty): Ricotta gnocchi Adam invites you to try his recipe for Ricotta gnocchi, mussels and lardons. montage-1

MY FIRST IMPRESSION

Our interns have already spent an entire month with us! We were curious to know what they thought of the company and how they would describe their internship experience so far. Here’s what they had to say: In one word, my internship experience at Groupe Dynamite is…

  • Enriching
  • Exciting
  • Constructive

My first impression of the company was…

  • Wow! It’s a young and dynamic working environment!
  • I’m impressed with the campus in general, the Atrium and the Design centres… you could really feel the creativity around you!
  • I was surprised to see that the workspaces in the Design centres don’t have any computers, which literally leaves more room to explore your imagination and exchange ideas with colleagues.

Something I didn’t know about the company…

  • There’s a terrace on the roof! How awesome is that!
  • The cafeteria is unlike any other… the bistro’s food is exquisite!
  • Management from all levels actively participate in our meetings and value our opinions.

IMG_7436 IMG_7440

WELCOME TO CALI, GARAGE!

Groupe Dynamite continues to aim higher. Since starting our ascent in the United States in 2007, our growth persists and we now count a total of 80 stores for both Garage and Dynamite brands. We are proud to open our first Garage store in the most populous state: California!

With an economy larger than most small countries, California provides an incredible opportunity for growth and expansion. It’s the place to be! Our first California store is located in Westfield Valley Fair, one of California’s most sought-after locations where retailers typically wait years to get in. In the upcoming months, we will be opening stores in three more locations in the Golden State: Westfield Topanga, Irvine Spectrum Center and Stoneridge Shopping Center. This shows that California has a strong appetite for Garage.

Entering the California market means we are now playing in the big leagues. “Big retail brands have their best stores on both coasts. It made sense that our next big opportunity was going to be on the West Coast,” explained Lucy Checksfield, Sr. Director Real Estate. At Groupe Dynamite, we have done our homework and strongly believe that now is the right time for our company to take on this new challenge.

Team_Garage_Opening_California

The expansion in numbers:

  • Our store opening in Westfield Valley Fair marks our 75th Garage store in the United States.
  • 86 new employees will be hired this year to fill these new openings in California.

To sustain the opening of our new store in California, were shipped from the Montreal Distribution Center to California:

  • 390 cartons
  • 3,809 bags
  • 6,500 hangers
  • 120 mannequins
  • 9,013 pieces of clothing

DSC_1394

Investing in our Talent

Our employees are at the core of our success! GD Leadership is a program that invests in their development to continuously elevate the level of our talent. All managers from our Head Office and our Stores go through a curriculum that will allow them to be effective, and to easily adapt to the needs of an ever-changing industry. They all walk away equipped with impactful leadership strategies, eager to put them into action.

GD_Leadership_training

Group_GD_Leadership

MELANIE JAY, SUPPORTING A SIX-YEAR-OLD BOY’S WISH TO WALK

Imagine being unable to walk, tie your own shoes, kick a ball or simply stand up. These are just a few of many challenges people diagnosed with spastic diplegia Cerebral Palsy must face on a daily basis. Melanie Jay, a very determined Sales Director, is close to a little boy named Alesandro, who is suffering from such a disease. Like Alesandro, Melanie is never one to give up. When she learned, through Alesandro’s mom that a very complex neurosurgical procedure, only available in the United States, could change Alesandro’s life forever, Melanie did what she does best and she mobilized people. The “Alesandro’s Wish to Walk” Foundation needed to raise $150,000 to pay for surgery and continuous medical care.

Melanie and her entire team jumped in to help raise the money needed. Together, through various fundraising activities (Gala, BBQ, raffles, wine pulls, silent auction, comedy show), they raised close to $20,000. Last December, the goal was met: Alesandro got the surgery and was able to take his first steps.

Melanie is a true example that collectively we can make a difference. Melanie brought leadership to a whole new level. Her involvement was honoured at GD’s recent annual Gala, where she received the Community Ambassador of the Year Award. This little boy might have a long journey ahead of him, but he can count on Melanie and Groupe Dynamite to support him along the way.

Vaughan Summer Splash BBQ

Vaughan Summer Splash BBQ, August 2015

Elena de la Garza, mobilizing an army of people for a good cause

Elena de la Garza, one of Groupe Dynamite’s District Sales Supervisors and a true leader, managed to raise over $13,000 for the Salvation Army, a foundation that is dear to her heart. Last year Elena led a large Charity initiative through all U.S. Districts to support this cause.

Elena grew up in an environment where things didn’t come easy for her; therefore, she learned the value of hard work early on in life. This explains her willingness to give back and make a difference in the lives of others.

The mission: to mobilize all the U.S. territories to raise $1 per day, per store, for six months. With her Director’s support, Elena built a team of seven employees, who became her Community Ambassadors, and they were to oversee each district and help keep things on target.

This impressive campaign was entirely managed and financed by the U.S. Team. Under Elena’s vision and leadership, employees managed to make a big difference in several lives, not only by raising money, but also by donating their time to various organizations, such as Imagine Art, Angel Tree, and Savannah’s Cards 4 Kids.

Elena’s determination and efforts were honoured on May 17, 2016, as she was awarded the Community Ambassador of the Year Trophy at Groupe Dynamite’s annual Gala. Everyone at Groupe Dynamite was inspired by Elena’s journey. As she likes to say, “It’s all about making a difference from one heart to the next!”

Elena and US team

USA Leaders who helped lead this awesome initiative!