“Oh my God Martina, whatever possessed you to take something like this,” said Martina Leblanc’s mother when she found out her daughter was taking a cabinet making course. That was nearly 20 years ago and many things have happened since.
Martina LeBlanc, owner of Alphaplex Custom Fabrication, a custom plastic fabricator located in Dieppe, NB has had many new beginnings. At age 35, with three daughters aged 6, 13 and 17, she decided to go back to school and get her GED and Life Skills Course. After a visit to the local community college, her teacher said, “You seem to be a “hands on” person, why don’t you consider something non-traditional.” She took the advice and decided to enroll in a year one-year cabinet making course. There Martina excelled and truly developed a passion for the trades.
Upon graduation, Martina searched for work, only to find that no positions were available in cabinet making. She decided to answer an ad in the newspaper that said you must be able to use small tools. She submitted her bright yellow resume and the rest is history. Her future boss, impressed by the wide range of machines and tools she could use, created a special position as a plastic fabricator. After working for the company for eight years, Martina decided to exercise her entrepreneurial spirit and go out on her own.
Starting out nearly 10 years ago in a small 650 square-foot rented space, with only one window and no bay door, her company has since grown to support clients such as Toys for Big Boys, Shoppers Drug Mart, Honda Dealership, Atlantic Wholesalers, Future Shop and Costco, to name a few. Alphaplex creates custom-made items, including, displays, windshields for recreational vehicles and boats, safety guards for heavy machinery and so much more. Martina however, was not always sure of the future of her company.
Participating in the Managed Growth Strategy program, in January 2006, hosted by the NB Association of Community Business Development Corporations (CBDCs), was one source of inspiration for Martina. The purpose of the program is to provide women entrepreneurs with the tools they need to grow their business. Martina did just that.
In January, on the way to the course, Martina saw a little brick house with a breezeway and a double car garage. “My husband and I had been looking for a place for 4 years to live in and run the business. Everyday I would leave the course and park the car and dream-“What if it was a little bit bigger.” Looks sure can be deceiving.
The first of June, near the end of the course, she got a call from a real estate agent who e-mailed her the picture of the very house she had been admiring for so long. Martina responded by saying it was too small. With the encouragement from her real estate agent, she went to look at it…and now she and her husband are the proud owners.
The Manage Growth Strategy program helped Martina make the leap to move to a new location and grow her business “I learned so much from it! My fear factor is nil now, compared to what it was. I am excited now about everything.”
Before the course, Martina said she lacked the business aspect. “For years, I had my husband’s help, but I was afraid to hire someone. I had to learn to delegate, which makes life easier.” Martina, who prides herself on being easy to get along with, hired an exceptional employee Mike, who comes to work each day with his dog…who is also the company’s mascot.
Martina says, her role models are, women in general—people who are encouraging. “I love to see women succeed. Things are finally opening up. The world is realizing that women can do it. We are more precise and we are perfectionists. We care about the outcome of what we do.”
The road ahead looks bright for Alphaplex. Martina follows the philosophy that Your Imagination is the Only Limitation. “If a customer comes in now and has a real challenge for me, if it is possible, we will find a way to do it.” With a business name like Alphaplex ( Alpha is the Greek word for first or beginning), Martina LeBlanc proves she is a first-rate entrepreneur, who will have many more new beginnings in store...