Alain Giraudon has been HYGECO’s sales manager in France for more than 35 years. A true living memory, he knows everything about the Group’s developments. We take stock with him on his journey within the company. Interview.
Tell us about your career at HYGECO?
Alain Giraudon (AG): My career path at HYGECO is quite linear because I have always been attached to the sales department, whether it be working as a switchboard operator at the beginning, through to sales management, order management, order entry or planning-site organization up to my current position of sales manager for France.
How has this company evolved in 35 years?
AG: Until 1997, HYGECO was part of the OGF-PFG group, which gave it a certain security in relation to the market since it had the biggest player as a customer. Despite some conflicts, there was never any separation until 1997. Following the separation, it was necessary to regain market share. HYGECO therefore partnered with a casket manufacturer called PROBIS. The purpose of this association was to be able to provide funeral directors with everything they needed from ceremony gloves to the full-blown laboratory, including vehicles, clothes, sound systems, and any product the funeral parlor may need. This adventure lasted a few years (until 2004-2005) and unfortunately ended because the two bosses no longer agreed on the development of PROBIS. Then there was the partnership with Facultatieve from 2007 until Abenex joined in 2017.
The flame is still alive after more than 35 years in the company. What drives you?
AG: What motivates me the most is to have answers to give to customers who are waiting for solutions and especially that HYGECO continues! A career is made of many encounters. I have a lot of good memories at trade shows, such as Funéraire (Paris) for example. It is also the fact of providing great service, satisfying customers, and managing to win many contracts.
What is the main difficulty in your job? And what is the most satisfying?
AG: What is restricting is that you have to be immediately available to your customers because of the current modes of communication. This impatience on the part of the customers limits the time we need to think about and elaborate and the best solutions.
It is also satisfying to be there for our clients at every stage of their journey. It’s the feeling of being useful and being able to respond to their problems. Last week, I had a client who was surprised to see me again after many years. Indeed, the specificity of my clientele means that I may not see them for the next ten years as there is little equipment redundancy. What is satisfactory is this follow-up with customers over several decades.
Do you have a nice anecdote to tell us about your career?
AG: At the beginning of the 1990s, when the mobile phone arrived, at HYGECO we had to share 1 mobile phone for 3 people. In the same vein, when I arrived in 1984, computers were not as available as they are today and so, when the time came to invest in a computer, there was only one for the whole company. That is, there were 5 to 6 people waiting to use it, and the sales department was last. So, we often passed our orders in the evening after 8 or 9 pm. That would be unthinkable today!