Montreal, October 25, 2002 - Four Provincial Winners in the Ninth Annual "SMEs of the National Bank" Recognition Program

Montreal, 25 October 2002 - 

The National Bank today announced the provincial winners in the ninth edition of its "SMEs of the National Bank" recognition program.

The prizes were awarded at a gala at Montreal's Centre Mont-Royal, which was attended by the regional finalists in all categories, members of the National Bank's senior management and various Quebec business leaders.  The “SMEs of the National Bank” recognition program is a way to pay tribute to the Bank's small and medium-size business clients who have distinguished themselves through their achievements over the past year.

The winner in the Small Business category was Tressages Boréal inc. of Delson, in the Montérégie region.  Founded in 1994, this company, headed by Robert Boies, produces connectors used in electrical equipment to conduct electricity.  By continually refining its procedures, Tressages Boréal inc. has managed to set the standard for quality in its industry.

In the SME category, the winning company was ORTHOsoft inc. of Montreal. Headed by Dr. Louis-Philippe Amiot, this company has perfected Navitrack, an operating system that manipulates 3-D images in real time to facilitate computer-assisted orthopedic surgical procedures.  This innovative system is distributed in France, Italy and various other European countries.

La Ferme du Barrage inc. of Saint-Gérard, in the Quebec City / Chaudière / Appalaches region, came out on top in the Agricultural SME category.  Headed by Gaétan Grenier, this company has been specializing in dairy and cheese production since 1976.  Over the years, it has built up a loyal client base by providing fresh, superior quality products which are distributed to more than a hundred grocery stores and variety stores in the region.  The company also operates a restaurant and a dairy bar where its own products are featured on the menu.

In the Export SME category, the winner was Portes Lemieux inc. of Windsor, in the Eastern Townships.  Headed by Bernard Gervais, this manufacturing operation, which invests significantly in innovation and training, specializes in manufacturing interior and exterior French doors.  Thanks to its superior product, Portes Lemieux inc. has become a leading seller of French doors in the United States.

Réal Raymond, President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Bank, reminded everyone that the National Bank is the bank of SMEs in Quebec, boasts the most SME clients and enjoys the largest market share in this sector of activities. When paying tribute to the SMEs, he extolled the virtues of the recognition program.

“The recognition program”, Mr. Raymond pointed out, “is the natural extension of a relationship that is based on reciprocity and trust between SMEs and the National Bank.  The Bank's main raison d'être is to give SMEs the very best service we can, to be their financial advisor and to offer them efficient, relevant banking services.  But we also strive to be their partner in all aspects of their operations, to serve as their resource and also to add to their value in a way that no other bank or financial institution can.  We can do this by highlighting their achievements and energy, and generally increasing their visibility by making them known to their clients, suppliers, employees and the public at large.  The recognition program was designed by the National Bank with the specific intent of making SMEs better known and as a way for us to express our appreciation for their exceptional contribution to Quebec's economy -- they are, after all, the very heart and soul of it.”

The four provincial winners of the National Bank's recognition program will be rewarded in a number of ways.  All will appear in a visibility campaign in the Quebec media, and they will also be featured in a report to be televised on December 1 on TVA as part of the TV special “Distinction PME”.

The winners in the Agricultural SME, Small Business and SME categories will each receive two airline tickets for Paris while the winner in the Export SME category will receive $5,000 in airfare, courtesy of National Bank Financial.

Selection process and partnerships

The winners in the Small Business, SME and Agricultural SME categories were selected from among the winners in the Bank's 11 provincial regions based on a number of criteria, such as their competence, their energy and the excellence of their human resources management.  The Export SME winner was chosen from a list of provincial finalists who were selected for their recent success on export markets.  All the winners were selected by a panel made up of individuals from the business community who followed a rigorous selection process overseen by the accounting firm Samson Bélair/Deloitte & Touche.

Once again this year, the National Bank's recognition program was widely supported by the business community and sponsorships from prestigious companies such as IBM, CDP Capital, TVA, Samson Bélair/Deloitte & Touche, the French-language newspapers La Presse, Le Soleil, Le Droit, Le Nouvelliste, La Tribune, Le Quotidien and La Voix de l'Est, and National Bank Financial.

National Bank of Canada is an integrated group which provides comprehensive financial services to consumers, small and medium-sized enterprises and large corporations in its core market, while offering specialized services to its clients elsewhere in the world. The National Bank offers a full array of banking services, including retail, corporate and investment banking. It is an active player on international capital markets and, through its subsidiaries, is involved in securities brokerage, insurance and wealth management as well as mutual fund and retirement plan management. The National Bank has assets of over $75 billion and, together with its subsidiaries, employs over 17,000 people. The Bank's securities are listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

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Information (the following telephone number and e-mail address are intended solely for the use of journalists and other media representatives):

National Bank of Canada
Denis Dubé
Director of Public Relations
Tel.: (514) 394-8644