Groupe Nordik: artisans of wellness and health for everyone above all else.
In 20 years, Groupe Nordik has become a reference in the health and wellness industry—a true Québec success story. Daniel Gingras and Martin Paquette made their dream a reality thanks to unfailing determination and the expertise they gained over time. Today, their passion and the goals they’ve achieved prompt them to always aim higher. To gain better insight into this success and all that lies ahead for the business, Martin Paquette, founder and CEO of Groupe Nordik, looks back on the dream that’s grown into the largest spa in North America.
Rogers Business: Tell us about your business (history, number of employees, years in business, etc.).
Martin Paquette: Groupe Nordik was founded in the Ottawa–Gatineau area in the early 2000s. Our story begins with two good friends and entrepreneurs—Daniel Gingras and me—and a passion for wellness and wellness treatments that led us to own the largest spa in North America. Located in Chelsea, Nordik Spa-Nature welcomes nearly 230,000 guests every year. Our second spa is in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and our newest is in Whitby, Ontario. Today, there are about 80 employees at our corporate headquarters and over 475 people at our spas.
Rogers Business: How did the idea of starting your own business come about?
Martin Paquette: It took over five years to make the project a reality, but we persevered despite the obstacles. The story behind our business is simple: I was training for the Ottawa Marathon and got to experience the benefits of thermal therapy at the Polar Bear's Club spa in the Laurentians. It completely changed my life and gave me the determination to bring the benefits of thermal therapy to spa-goers in the Outaouais region.
Rogers Business: Did someone or something inspire you to start your business?
Martin Paquette: That wellness experience in the Laurentians made us want to offer the same type of treatments just a stone’s throw from the Gatineau area, in nature. We wanted to recreate the rituals inspired by Scandinavian relaxation techniques as closely as possible and create multisensory wellness experiences. Transforming people’s lives through wellness is really what motivated us when we opened our first project in Chelsea, in the Outaouais region, in 2005.
Rogers Business: What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned as a business owner?
Martin Paquette: To never give up. In the 2000s, no one believed in our project. It was a crazy, grandiose idea in a region where there was no competition in the sector we wanted to be in. We had a green light and clear path to become the first in the area. Some investors were reluctant to take on this tremendous and innovative project, but we kept going. We’ve always believed in our dreams, and we’ve always risen above every obstacle.
Rogers Business: Who or what was your biggest source of support when you first started out in business?
Martin Paquette: Our respective families were important pillars in all the steps to create this company. We surrounded ourselves with trusted experts and partners we often called upon for guidance and advice. Learning is in our DNA: we’re curious by nature and we thrive on challenges. And we aren’t afraid to get our hands dirty: we even broke ground on the site of the Nordik Spa-Nature site in Chelsea.
Rogers Business: What’s your vision for the future of your business?
Martin Paquette: After opening the first spa in Chelsea in 2005, the second in Winnipeg in 2015 and the third in the greater Toronto area in Whitby, Groupe Nordik’s vision is broader than ever. We want to become the leader in Nordic spas in North America. The goal is to develop 10 spas by 2027 , and we plan on expanding our current sites over the next few years.
- Nordik Spa-Nature in Chelsea (Québec)
- Thermëa by Nordik Spa-Nature in Winnipeg (Manitoba)
- Thermëa spa village in Whitby (Ontario)
- A fourth spa is planned in Harmony, in the greater Calgary area (Alberta).