Interview with Francis Alizer from AFI Company
What is your function and your business sector? I am the manager of AFI since it started in 1993. Our staff includes ten employees, and we work in the industrial supplies sector as well as providing services to the building trade, companies and communities. Who are your clients and suppliers? Our clients are primarily companies from the construction industry and the industrial sector. In both cases, these may be big companies with subsidiaries as well as more local and regional SMEs, or individual tradespeople. Our suppliers are various tools suppliers and makers in Europe. At the moment we use 1094 different suppliers. What are your main assets in face of the competition? Service. We are more focused on service needs and on the solutions we deliver to the client than on the product per se. We try to determine what will best meet the client’s need, we examine the bill of specifications, we check that the request duly corresponds with his needs and we attempt to find a solution satisfactory to everybody. Within your current activity, what is the initiative or launch that you’re the most proud of? Products I develop for the nuclear power industry. These are products used in the transport of TFA equipment. Actually, we’re at the beginning of a deconstruction phase of nuclear power, but one needs to know that this phase will last 150 years and that it involves a lot of trades and business sectors, including ours. How do you keep your customers happy? Fast logistics, a quick reactivity time and stock. We have increased our stock by 35%, and we have also developed a retail website at the same time to make our e-commerce debut. Which complementary services do you propose alongside your products? We propose a range of services and support to the client depending on his specific needs. Thanks to our network, we are able to support clients who sometimes haven’t a lot of representatives, if at all.
Interview of Franck Weinstoerffer – Transports Jean-Claude Mermet
« We practically do everything by ourselves. »
What is your function and your business sector ?
I work as the quality control officer for ten years now in the Transports Jean-Claude Mermet company. Our business activity relates to transports, logistics and storage, and we also take in charge the ads on vehicles as well as vehicles and offices renting.
Who are your clients and suppliers ?
Our customer base is mainly comprised of industrialists working in all business areas (automobile, plastics processing, etc.), and also with haulage companies which entrust us with all kind of freights.
As to our suppliers, they are of course vehicles suppliers, insurers but also tires, diesel fuel and oil suppliers.
Which are your main assets in face of the competition ?
Our main asset resides in the fact we practically do everything by ourselves. Thus, unlike some haulage companies which subcontract, it entitles us to decrease the potential litigations as well as the deadlines.
Another of our strengths lies in our proximity and our important shipping ability in the Rhônes-Alpes area thanks to more than 30 vehicles in this region, which affords us to gain both flexibility and service quality.
Within your current activity, what is the initiative or launch that you’re the most proud of ?
Precisely to do everything by ourselves and to have been able to keep this savoir-faire in the customer proximity. Just a few of haulage companies could have kept it due to the obligations of competitiveness. As for us, we have achieved it.
Has your business core evolved in the course of the last years ?
Yes. For instance, people use fewer and fewer vehicles for long trips, so they opt for subcontracts. We have also faced an important evolution concerning the working hours. Legislation has notably obliged usnot to exceed some services and driving times, and also to accept compulsory break times. This with a view of giving the haulers better working conditions and of reinforcing the road safety.
Is innovation important to your company ?
Yes, but it comes a lot from the suppliers. Why ? Because we’re notably facing many innovations regarding ecology, with more and more rules imposed by the government. These are obvious advances but, economically speaking, they favour our activity in more or less proportions.
The classification assets
The classification is at the heart of Kompass know-how since its creation. It constitutes a precious tool as it structures the information. An efficient and simple structure Kompass classification is structured upon 3 levels: sectors, fields and products. The first level refers to a series of 67 business sectors and includes 2 numbers. For instance, the wood industry is coded 14. The second level corresponds to sub-sectors, namely sectors that can specify more precisely the activity. There are identified by a 5-digit code. For the wood sector, the code 14040 characterizes the tropical wood logs. A third level, related to sub-sectors, lists the products and services with a 7-digit code: 1403007 refers to teak wood logs. In order to optimize the user’s search, Kompass has established 15 major families encompassing all the sectors. With a precise title like Food Industry, Energy/Environnement or Chemistry/Plastic/Health, they facilitate the use of the classification. A progressive structure These levels have evolved over time according to the global economy and technological innovations. At the time of its creation, the classification was mostly about the industrial sector, at the heart of the economic activity after WWII. Little by little, it was reviewed and enriched. In 2013, its thirteenth version was updated. On the initiative from specialists, some sections, connected to sectors that recently evolved, were entirely restructured and the wording simplified. On a daily basis, the whole Kompass network mobilizes to contribute to the updating and the improvement of the system, in order to meet the expectations of the global market and guarantee maximum clarity to the user. A worldwide database structure Each company is listed in the database according to its overall activities. Thus, Kompass guarantees to its users precise information about the companies know-how. Other national classifications such as the NAF (French Classification of Activities) are not in a position to offer this service. Moreover, as the classification was homogenized to global scale, the user can search for a company in France and abroad. With only one click and in his mother tongue, he can target a company according to its activity in nearly 70 countries.