Haulotte, an aerial work platform and telehandler manufacturer in the Loire Valley, is about to launch a major investment project involving the construction of a new head office. The project is part of a global strategy to modernize the company and its image. Alexandre Saubot, the Haulotte Group’s Chief Operating Officer, explains his vision to La Tribune.
Recently, you announced the construction of a new head office a few kilometers from here. It’s to be a 7,500 m² complex with connected collaborative areas and new R&D laboratories. It will be operational in 2020. What are the stakes involved in the construction of your new headquarters?
The new head office will support our growth trajectory. It’s too cramped here. It will strengthen our new corporate identity, in line with our Horizon 2020 strategy.
It should propel us to the forefront of sustainable development, digital development and so forth... so that we can meet the demands of our customers. Our strategy revolves around three major development axes: innovation, digital and human.
Which means what, exactly?
Innovation is the key to our growth. Not long ago, at the last Intermat Trade Fair, we launched a major new product range called PULSEO Generation. The machines in this range can operate without an external power source for an entire day and don’t emit any pollutants. They meet the needs of our customers, who often work in confined spaces (buildings, downtown areas, etc.). The range is a major innovation and took nearly three years to develop.
Innovation also means digital development. I strongly believe that the digital and industrial worlds are not opposed. On the contrary, they serve to strengthen one another. Haulotte is primarily an industrial company, but our products are incorporating more and more digital technology.
What are Haulotte’s human development goals?
We want to strengthen the strategy that we put in place two years ago. Our competitors in low-cost countries have proven that we cannot compete in terms of price alone. On the other hand, we have a tremendous strength: our teams and innovations are top-notch.
So, in 2015, we launched a large-scale internal survey to find out what our employees expected of us in terms of management. It gave rise to an extensive “empowerment” program. A cross-functional unit, dubbed “Let’s Dare”, was created and tasked with deploying this program to our 20 sites throughout the world. It was introduced in every factory and office.
Its purpose is to empower Haulotte employees by giving them more autonomy, regardless of their position in the corporate hierarchy. For example, in factory workshops, we’ve stopped trying to respond to the complaint that “It’s too hard.” Instead, we’ve been empowering teams to find solutions that will improve their work environment and enhance productivity. We wanted everyone to know that their work has meaning. This is essential, especially for the younger generations.
Obviously, in terms of head office design, all affected teams were consulted.
What results have you seen thus far? Have you noticed any changes in productivity, one way or the other?
Given that the program is still underway, much remains to be done. And yet, in terms of productivity, it has already proven beneficial. Employees are the ones best qualified to find solutions to the job-related issues they face.
We’ve also noticed another interesting repercussion: we’re receiving more and more unsolicited applications. Word of this new work approach is beginning to spread throughout the local community and is making us more attractive as a result.
This attractiveness will help us attain our goal: that of becoming the “Company of the Future.”
Is this an important communications objective?
Yes, of course. If you want to be at the heart of a regional or national digital ecosystem, leadership status is a must. People must know who you are. Only then can you attract applicants, partners, startups, customers, etc.
Company of the future, a major investment project involving the construction of a new head office... Are these phrases symbolic of Haulotte’s rebirth?
You could say that. It’s true that, in 2009, our activity plummeted. But we believed in our recovery. We’ve been working toward it ever since. Last year, our revenue amounted to € 508 million (for 1,700 employees, editor’s note).
We are listed on the stock exchange, so I can’t provide forecasts for upcoming years... but things look good. Our recovery has value, not only externally, but especially internally: it has enabled us to forge bonds.
Read the orginal interview with Alexandre Saubot by Stéphanie Gallo on La Tribune.