Grand Opening ~ Feb. 12th, 1975
Don Coquet (left), Frank Bourgault (right)
Frank Bourgault – Farmer, Innovator and Community Leader
Ever since he was a boy, Frank Bourgault had shown inventive abilities, combined with good mechanical instincts. As a young man, Frank built a gas engine powered snow toboggan long before snowmobiles were developed. He also patented a new type of root rake for the family farm. In 1969, Frank was a 44 year old farmer and partner in the Massey Ferguson farm implement dealership in St. Brieux, Saskatchewan. During his time at the dealership, Frank earned a reputation as an excellent farm equipment mechanic by solving problems that other mechanics were unable to solve. This often included making modifications to existing designs to make the equipment work in the area. Since the area around St. Brieux was extremely stony and hard on equipment, Frank gained experience on every make of cultivator in the countryside. He learned the strengths and weaknesses of each machine down to the individual components. Problems with existing designs included excessive shank bending, poor residue clearance, lack of soil penetration capability, and poor weed kill. Frank felt that he could produce a cultivator design that could overcome many of the shortcomings he saw in his shop and in the field. His goal was to do so while producing an implement that could do the job of both a chisel plow and a cultivator, eliminating the need for farmers to purchase both machines.
Bourgault B24-28 ~ 1973
1st Building ~ 1975
Between 1969 to 1973, Frank tested and developed his cultivator from the Massey Ferguson dealership with the help of his sons, partners and local farmers. The first prototype model, a 16 foot unit, was built in 1970 for $1,300. In the following years more and larger units were built and sold. The units were so well received that Frank, along with his business partner in the dealership, Don Coquet, began to consider mass production.
Frank Bourgault, Don Coquet, and Frank’s eldest son Gerry, incorporated F.P. Bourgault Industries Ltd. on May 4, 1973 and began to establish a manufacturing facility. Frank recruited Paul Leray as a partner to assist him in building the facility and to act as the plant’s Production Manager. Paul had obtained considerable experience in farm equipment manufacturing with Doepker Industries Ltd. of Annaheim, Saskatchewan. Paul also had extensive farm equipment knowledge having been a farmer and implement dealer for many years.
F.P. Bourgault Industries Ltd. Established – The Timing Was Right
In December of 1974, right in the middle of the largest equipment demand boom ever seen, a manufacturing facility was officially opened in the southeastern corner of the village of St. Brieux. The plant included a 4,000 square foot production area and an 800 square foot office. Recruiting local people, Bourgault Industries began with a work force of 10, mostly welders and metal fabricators. They were mainly younger and middle-aged farmers. One of Frank’s goals with the establishment of his enterprise had been to provide local employment opportunities for the community for those being forced off the farm by low grain prices. Frank’s enterprise provided seasonal and full time employment for many in St.Brieux and the surrounding community. By February 1975, a second shift of 12 production workers was put in place to meet the demand for the new cultivators and mounted harrows. In the spring of 1975, the first major run of 75 cultivators and mounted harrows went into service in various locations throughout Western Canada.