Claude and Daniel Leclair

The Leclair Brothers

Brother Act 

The Leclair Brothers
The Leclair Brothers

Families and business are often a unpredictable mix.  The emotions cased by the fusion of the two can frequently result in all sorts of catastrophic situations.  That is hardly the case for the Leclair brothers of Casselman, Ontario.

Claude, 53, and Daniel Leclair, 54, co-owners of the Casselview Golf Club, have worked side by side for decades.  They’ll admit that there have been some conflicting moments but for the most part it has been a prosperous pairing.  They are different people when it comes to tastes and personalities but working on common ground has led them to find a very complementary groove in life.

The owners of the Casselview Golf Club in Casselman certainly did not set out to be golf course owners but learning an appreciation for hard work set the stage early for their success as adults.

The brothers, the middle two of six children, grew up on a farm south of Alfred, Ontario, in the Prescott-Russell region, not far from where the golf course they would come to own sits today.

When Claude was eight and Daniel was ten their father purchased a poultry farm. It took a lot of work to raise 26,000 chickens and the young brothers were thrown into the mix right away.

“We worked hard all our lives.  It was a way of life for us,” says Claude as we meet one morning the golf course they bought in 1987.  It was not the first business for the pair.

They say that growing up they knew they wanted a business of their own someday and saved with that goal in mind. “We knew we wanted our own business we just didn’t know what,” says Daniel.

When Claude was still a teen, and Daniel barely one, they bought a small motel in the west end of Ottawa from their parents who had invested in it a couple years prior.  The 23-room lodge became their base of operations with the brothers putting in endless hours to make a go of it.  The Richmond Plaza Hotel in Westboro is still a going concern to this day, a testament to the effort they made so long ago.

Before long the brothers were looking to spread their wings

They actually sold the motel in 1987 and purchased the golf course later that same year.  They held the mortgage for the property and it would eventually return to their possession, as it remains today.

As to why they got into the golf industry, the Leclair brothers say it was purely a business decision but having it near where they grew up was a nice benefit.   “We just saw the potential it,” Daniel relates of the golf course that was only nine holes at the time. “It was in a small town which we liked and it was for sale.”

Both brothers had taken up golf a couple years prior and continue to enjoy the game. Each sports an index around the 8/9 mark and enjoy playing when they can. That usually means playing with their own circle of friends. They may spend a lot of work time together but each enjoys their own pursuits away from the course.  Daniel loves time on his motorcycle and camping while Claude is looking forward to becoming a cottage and boat owner on the near future.  They both enjoy travel but Claude and his wife would rather jump on a plane while Daniel says an RV is his preferred mode of setting out on a travel adventure.

When it came to getting the golf course started under their tenure, it was quite an adventure in itself.  Asked what they knew about running a golf course at the time Claude is blunt – “Nothing really; we had a lot to learn.”

In essence, they dug their business out of the dirt, using hard work to make up for any knowledge they might have lacked.

Daniel worked to expand the course while Claude handled the other aspects of the business.  It’s a similar arrangement today with Daniel being the “outside” guy while Claude tackles the rest. It was not a conscious decision, it just seemed to work out that way.

And work it has as they the pair grew their customer base and developed a golf course that continues to garner many awards and recognition.  Their joint philosophy has never been to cut corners with their businesses and the mantra has paid off.

Both brothers are looking ahead to working more “normal” hours one day – they say they have good managers in place that help them take care of their business but are always ready to jump in where they have to.  They try to be hands off and give their employees the room to grow and work to their full potential.

In the meantime both declare they have no regrets about being in business with each other.

“It’s good to have somebody else in business with you,” says Daniel  “When it is your brother you can trust them and they are there for support.  They can help you not make mistakes. When you have an idea for something they can let you know that maybe it’s not such a good idea before you do it.”

So far the Leclairs had not had too many bad ideas, judging by their success.  They share those accomplishments equally, just as they split the hard work and any adversity in the early days.

They may not have set out to become among the most respected in the regional golf business, but it is certainly the case.

“There have been challenging time in our relationship, of course,” says Claude. “but we have the same goals, so it’s worked out.”

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