In a remarkably generous gesture, retired businessman and HEC Montréal alum André Waechter has donated two million dollars to the School on behalf of his family. The funds will go toward the construction of the School’s new building in Montréal’s downtown core.
Half of this donation will be provided immediately, the other half in the form of a testamentary gift. In recognition of this sizeable gift, the Waechter family name will be inscribed on the entrance to the Côte du Beaver Hall building.
Until recently, André Waechter was the principal shareholder and board chairman for the companies Boiseries Raymond and Colonial Elegance. These two companies are top distributors of ramps, doors and woodwork in Quebec and the rest of Canada. In 2018, Waechter sold his company shares and retired from his business activities.
"HEC Montréal receives this gift with immense gratitude. It is a testament to André Waechter and his family’s support for the School, its mission and its major project to be closer to the community,” stated the Director of HEC Montréal, Federico Pasin.
“I salute the exceptional approach that the donors have taken. In addition to what they have already done for our institution, they are going even further to make this donation including a testamentary gift,” commented Patry, President and CEO of the HEC Montréal Foundation.
This is not Waechter’s first act of philanthropy toward his alma mater. Prior to this two-million-dollar donation, he had already donated $350,000 to the School.
A loyal donor since 1986, Waechter created a bursary fund in 2008 amounting to $100,000. This led to his appointment to HEC Montréal’s International Board of Governors.
In 2015, the financial contribution made by Waechter, his daughter, Hélène, and his wife, Agathe Normandeau, through the André Waechter Foundation, led to the creation of honour loans for young entrepreneurs who had completed the National Bank – HEC Montréal accelerator program.
Providing assistance to young entrepreneurs is a cause near and dear to Waechter, having started a business himself with his brother in the 1960s. He emphasizes the importance of “a little help where it counts”, which often makes all the difference for young people starting a business.
The announcement of the downtown building project came at the right time for Waechter, who had recently been pondering his future and fortune. He had just sold his companies and wanted to set aside part of his estate for donations. “I thought it was a terrific project. I studied [in the first building] at Viger Square, and HEC Montréal’s return downtown is a really great way to bring it closer to the business community,” stated Waechter.
The former businessman is now retired, and speaks from experience. He took evening classes for seven years to earn his accounting degree. He was a dedicated young entrepreneur who studied while he managed the family business.
Waechter is a generous donor, and sees a connection between his business success and his deep desire to share—a concept he says “extends beyond one’s immediate family.”
“When I was in business, I wanted to share with my employees. I sought out an above-average class of employees, and I wanted to pay them an above-average salary. My vision was to say that, together, we would get the strongest possible results, and that after that, we would try to share them equitably. Sharing would be the key to my business success. Then, it continued with philanthropy.”
André Waechter hopes that his actions will inspire others like him. “All I hope for is that this might spark something in those who seek this path, to share and embrace philanthropy.”