Batinfo: Can you introduce us to the Seguin group and its history?
Cedric Laurent: Founded in 1976, Seguin is a French family business, based mainly in the Auvergne Rhône Alpes region, manufacturing wood and pellet heaters. We are part of the Seguin group with nearly 300 employees and made up of brands such as Seguin, JC Bordelet, Axis and Hwam. Overall, we have two networks: Seguin a story of flame, dedicated to chimney installers with 150 retailers and 115 stores exclusive to our brand, and Cheminées Artense, aimed at the world of plumbers and heating engineers where we work directly with professionals via wholesalers.
Our business is based on B2B distribution, intended for railway workers, the smoke industry and the supply in the broad sense of wood and biomass heating appliances. Our know-how gives us a privileged place in the heating sector for individual homes.
Leader in our market in France, we are also present in 40 countries such as Scandinavia, Japan, Great Britain, Italy, the Mediterranean basin, Australia and others.
To summarize the activity of our different brands, I would say that:
- At Seguin, the specialty is cast iron and pellets. Located in Randan, in the Puy-de-Dôme for nearly 40 years, our 130 employees on this site take care of the administrative and logistical part as well as the administration of sales for the various subsidiaries. On this site, we are in the middle of rurality in the heart of the woods. We also provide certified Qualiopi training for installers, whether they are direct or indirect customers. The training offered ranges from a few days to three months and welcomes approximately 400 trainees throughout the year to enable them to improve their skills and promote the professionalization of our sector.
- Axis, also located in the Rhône Alpes region, deals with the production of hearths and steel stoves.
- Thermolab is our brand of pellet boilers, located in Randan like Seguin.
- We also own a brand in Denmark called Hwam, which manufactures Scandinavian wood stoves. Thanks to Hwam, we are now the only French manufacturer of Scandinavian steel stoves.
- JC Bordelet, based in Hérault, handcrafts suspended design metal fireplaces. With recognized products, this subsidiary is an important vector for us abroad.
- Finally, we have a little diversification in our core business with Vulx, which manufactures braziers planchas, for individuals but also for the hotel and catering industry.
Batinfo: Currently, where is the Seguin group?
Cedric Laurent: The current energy situation has led to a total inversion of our market with an explosion in demand for wood and log stoves. Usually we ensured deliveries in less than a week, today the deadlines are around 3 months.
Between the shortages of gas and raw materials, our sector is under tension in the second half of 2022. Thanks to the size of our company and reliable partners, we are able to find solutions and meet the growing demand from households who want practice the energy mix in order to lower their bills this winter.
Batinfo: What are your next projects ?
Cedric Laurent: We have a real desire to grow by continuing to improve our products and design new ones. We also want to explore new market areas. The trades around the boiler are obviously a sector in which we are already developing and intend to continue in this direction.
Our R&D department is also moving towards products that are easy to install and use.
We are also launching our first installer school with long training courses.
Finally, the heating sector for vertical dwellings is of course in our sights even if I cannot say more about it yet.
Regarding our CSR policy, we were already doing a lot of things but now we are putting them forward. We have therefore chosen four pillars:
- The environment: we try to be the most up-to-date on waste management.
- For example, we have invested heavily to have a test laboratory at home to measure our emissions into the atmosphere in a professional manner.
- Working groups have also been set up with our retailers in order to target the forms of waste that we generate and that we could reduce. For example, we are currently working on returnable packaging that we could recover and reuse.
- Our territorial roots: when we took over JC Bordelet and Axis, it would have been easier to repatriate the teams near our center in Randan. We have chosen not to do so and instead to reinvest in new factories in the places where these companies originated so as not to uproot the employees and to maintain the fabric of subcontractors that we want to keep. We have a real responsibility at our local level.
- The sustainable economy: we are very vigilant about what we buy, how much we buy it and from whom we buy. In the period we are in, if we did not have reliable partners, it would be much more difficult for us to hold on.
- The human at the center: we all have a profit sharing with a particularity: it is egalitarian, it does not take into account the level in the company.