RONA’s path since 1939, when it was founded, is marked with important decisions and events that have made the Corporation what it is today: a major Canadian retailer and distributor of hardware, building materials and home renovation products.
It was October 6, 1939, when a group of hardware stores founded Les Marchands en Quincaillerie ltée to get around a monopoly that was threatening their supply chain. Their mission was to combine their orders to get better prices. A few years later, Rolland Dansereau and Napoléon Piotte took control of the company, which became Groupe RONA inc.
Incorporation of Quincaillerie Ro-Na inc. The name "Ro-Na" is a combination of the first syllables of the first names of Rolland Dansereau, president at that time, and Napoléon Piotte, external relations officer.
Les Marchands en Quincaillerie ltée was purchased by a group of hardware store owners at the initiative of Napoléon Piotte. This transaction was the biggest step forward in the history of these businesses, because it marked the beginning of their cooperative operations and the collective that exists today.
Death of Napoléon Piotte and appointment of Charles Morency, a hardware store owner from Québec City, to the presidency of both companies.
Dissolution of Quincaillerie Ro-Na ltée and change of name from Les Marchands en Quincaillerie ltée to Marchands Ro-Na inc.
Move to new head office in Boucherville, Québec.
Ro-Na begins to market interior decorating products through a few Ambiance boutiques.
Merger with Dismat, another group that deals principally in construction materials. This transaction launched the rise of the company and the name Ro-Na Dismat was adopted.
The Ro-Na Dismat group decided to considerably expand its purchasing power. Already associated with Home Hardware Stores Ltd., which represented over 1,000 dealer-owners in Canada, it teamed up with Hardware Wholesalers Inc. from Fort Wayne (Indiana), representing over 3,000 retailers in the United States.
1994 marked the arrival of big box stores for Ro-Na Dismat, with the introduction of RONA L'entrepôt.
The company refreshed its banners and dropped the Quincailleur and Dismat signs. At the same time, two new banners made their appearance: RONA L'express and RONA L'express Matériaux. The Groupe Ro-Na Dismat inc. changed its name to RONA inc.
The RONA Le Rénovateur Régional banner was introduced on the market. The concept combined the benefits of big box stores with the personality of more traditional stores.
RONA got a brand new, ultra-modern distribution centre next to its headquarters in Boucherville, Québec. At over 650,000 square feet, the new location doubled the company's storage space, leading to major savings.
The 2000s were a period of meteoric market growth for RONA. Its growth strategy was focused on organic growth, acquisitions, the construction of new stores and the recruitment of new dealer-owners to fly its banners.
Solidly established in Québec, it turned toward Ontario and Western Canada to expand its network.
From 2000 to 2005, RONA was in acquisition mode. It acquired the 66 Cashway Building Centres, the third-largest player in Ontario.
It pursued its acquisitions with 51 Revy Home Center, Lansing Buildall and Revelstoke stores, operating from Ontario to British Columbia.
It also acquired Réno-Dépôt/The Building Box: 20 big box stores in Québec and Ontario, as well as 16 Totem Building Supplies stores in Alberta.
In November 2002, RONA (TSX: RON) took another major step by going public, concluding an initial public offering of $150.1 million worth of common shares.
In February 2006, RONA acquired 51% of the shares of Matériaux Coupal (nine stores), as well as the Curtis Lumber banner (six stores) and Mountain Building Centers (three stores) in British Columbia.
That same year, RONA ventured to Newfoundland and Labrador, acquiring the eight Chester Dawe stores.
The Boucherville distribution centre expanded to 926,000 square feet.
In fall 2007, RONA added three Dick's Lumber specialty lumber, construction materials and hardware stores in the Vancouver area.
To minimize the cyclical nature of sales, in 2007, RONA acquired Noble Trade Inc., one of the largest plumbing and heating wholesalers in Ontario, serving a commercial and professional clientele.
In 2008, three Best-MAR plumbing, heating and air conditioning specialty stores in the Ottawa/Gatineau region were added to the acquisitions list.
In June, RONA completed the acquisition of Piercey's in the Halifax region. This transaction advanced RONA's development in Atlantic Canada.
RONA announced the addition of a wholesale specialist, TruServ Canada, to its brand portfolio. This new business allowed RONA to provide better service to its vast network of independent dealer-owners operating under different banners across Canada.
RONA's 2012 business plan recognized the need to adjust RONA's offer to the new expectations and changing habits of Canadian consumers.
Seven years after the acquisition of the 19 Totem stores in Alberta, the corporation converted them to RONA proximity stores.
In August, the RONA Board of Directors rejected a purchase offer from an American home renovation giant.
At the end of 2012, RONA announced the departure of Robert Dutton, then president and CEO, after more than 35 years of service.
On January 21, RONA announced several changes in its Board, including the appointment of Robert Chevrier as executive chair.
In March, the Board of Directors – which included eight new members – announced the appointment of Robert Sawyer as president and CEO of the corporation. Under his leadership, a series of restructuring and reorganizing steps were taken to accelerate the recovery and improve the corporation's profits.
In October, RONA announced the conclusion of the sale of assets from its Commercial and Professional Market division specializing in plumbing, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems.
In the month of November, RONA acquired 49% of the remaining shares of Groupe Coupal inc., operating under the name Matériaux Coupal, a banner that specializes in the sale of lumber and construction materials to contractors.
In January, RONA unveiled the new concept for its Réno-Dépôt banner, redefined to better reflect the needs of its main customers: professional contractors and expert do-it-yourselfers. The transformation of the 16 Réno-Dépôt stores in Québec was conducted quickly between January and June and met with widespread approval from consumers.
In July, RONA announced the conclusion of an agreement for the long-term master licence for Ace Hardware brand products in Canada, to consolidate its network of affiliate dealer-owners across the country.
On October 6, RONA celebrates its 75th anniversary and still ranks amongst the largest distributor and retailers of hardware, construction and home renovation products in Canada.