The gentleman Jean Lemieux

Posted on December 29, 2015
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Many of my friends and people I admire have earned and received honours and recognition in their fields, regions and communities.
One of the finest I know is not much publicly known and to only a few of my friends in the newspaper industry.
His name is Jean Lemieux . He lives in Montreal. He started selling equipment to the newspaper industry in, I believe, 1958. He still does.
I bought the four unit Harris V-15 web offset press that brought quality, high-speed, productive newspaper printing to North Shore New Brunswick in 1974 enabling not only our papers but others in Bathurst, Campbellton, Caraquet and the Gaspé to greatly enhance their quality and also lower their costs.
Being first language French, of course, he represented one of the biggest newspaper press manufacturers in the world wherever in the world French was spoken. He was the go-to guy for huge presses for newspaper and flyer printing the large Quebec conglomerates like Quebecor and Transcon. His sales would run into the hundreds of millions.
He always kept in touch with me and, any time I was in Montreal always took me, one of his smallest and least likely to be repeat customers, to the finest restaurant in the city at the time even when that restaurant happened to be in Boucherville over an hour’s drive away.
Travelling the world for the company, he always kept me informed of the best restaurants in the top cities of the world. Every year he sent me a copy of the wine ratings for all the world’s top wine regions rating the vintners and the years.
He was always very attentive to any questions or service needs, always full of joie de vie, wit and wisdom and always a model of gentility. Among other things, he showed me around New Orleans on my first visit to the world’s top newspaper printing show there. He mentored a raw country kid not only into the world of modern printing but also into a more sophisticated world than I had known or would have easily found on my own.
When a super bargain on a fabulous eight-unit Harris Mercury web offset press came to his attention, he called me leading to the local Miramich Web Ltd. expansion into the former CFB Chatham industrial park just in time to print our legacy product the 1999 “Trouble At Sea” commemoration of the 1959 Escuminac disaster.
His first marriage failed, a victim I suspect of his arduous road warrior life across the world. There was some family conflict due to his unrelenting loyalty to Canadian federalism. He met a woman back in the early part of this century and they were having a wonderful time together until complications of a routine surgery led to her completely unexpected sudden death devastating Jean once again.
Now, 58 years after he began in the business, he is still his company’s French speaking liaison with the printing world wherever, whenever they need him. That isn’t much anymore. Such few presses as are being sold are more for flyer than newspaper printing and the pioneers who, with Jean at their side, built the large successful groups are mostly retired or dead.
I suspect the reason he remains on the job is that it has been such a huge part of his social as well as his vocational life for almost six decades. I suspect his employers may feel he needs them as much as they need him. I don’t know. I just suspect.
In some vocations and professions. the public knows who the winners are and cares and hands out awards and honours. I don’t know of any such thing for press salesmen or most other types of salesmen for that matter.
They have the respect and admiration of their colleagues and their clients but not much public recognition.
I just felt the need to pay tribute to a guide, mentor and friend of over 40 years. I love him like family and wanted to make it public. DAC


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