Nearly 200 guests including employees, customers and partners were invited in a friendly atmosphere to a cocktail dinner in the middle of the machines serving as a decor. The opportunity to come back on a beautiful human and industrial adventure.
History of the company
According to the company in 1948 an engineer from the arsenal of Lorient Emile Le Guelennec decided to develop almost in his living room a hydraulic guillotine shear to process scrap intended to produce the steel which would be used for the reconstruction of the post-war period. Copex was born. In the period that followed, several owners succeeded one another at the head of the company, which had to go through some storms, always holding good.
In 1998 the current President and CEO Frederic Malin bought the company with a partner and support from the French Investment Fund Ouest Croissance.
Ten years later, in 2008, he decided to pursue the adventure alone in a rather difficult context of global economic and financial crisis that did not spare the company. But from hardships we learn. Integrating uncertainty into his strategic vision, the constructor managed to achieve a technological change and to pursue his diversification, allowing the return to success.
Innovation and diversification
The Design Office and its R & D unit have grown considerably and rejuvenated, now having a staff of 17 employees, Copex says. Thanks to a massive investment in development in a period of little prosperity, all the COPEX fabrications were renewed between 2011 and 2016, since the large Lidex side compression shear press working with a patented system, up to the smallest press, a baler for metal packaging called Packmetal. This orientation has allowed the company to stay in constant touch with the evolving needs of its customers.
According to Copex the scrap market has always been cyclical and highly exposed to geopolitical hazards. Copex’s diversification strategy is therefore not new. In 1988, the company installed the first baling press for an application in the nuclear sector. Today the manufacturer has established itself as a privileged partner of the nuclear industry.
In 1990 Copex developed a first range of baling presses, at that time for the treatment of MSW and ICW. In 2015, it was followed by a new generation of multi-material presses (PMMs), which compact almost all compressible materials, paving the way for new applications in other sectors of activity. Today Copex has installed machines to compact agricultural products and plant fibers into high density bales for export to consumer countries by optimizing transport costs.
Guests from far away
In 70 years, Copex has managed to build a reputation for its seriousness, robustness and innovation with its customers in France and abroad. The company generates 60 to 70% of its turnover internationally and now has references in some 40 countries.
“I am proud of the expressions of sympathy from our French clients who have joined us for this anniversary, M. Malin comments. They testify that business is also related to men. In addition I was much honored that customers and partners from Australia, China, Russia and the USA have agreed to travel thousands of kilometers to attend the party. China because we have a partnership not in the idea of manufacturing locally but as a way for a French company to exist there; Russia which is one of the historical markets of our company where we have installed many machines especially from 2005; Australia and the USA where we work with agents who also provide a local technical service, respectively since 2006 and 2014.”
Art and Matter/When Art Meets Industry
The idea that led us in the organization of our 70th anniversary was to present Copex’s production tools in an unexpected light. For this, the workshop has been redesigned for an evening to make it a place of conviviality highlighted by lighting of our machine tools and machines. The guests were proposed to watch movies showing the many skills and know-how of the company. The factory has even become an ephemeral exhibition place for gigantic photos and works of art. “To mark our anniversary, we invited our employees to reflect on what Copex meant to them. A professional photographer then helped shape the many ideas expressed. It also seemed interesting to solicit our customers to send us a picture of what was emblematic of their activity. We were very pleasantly surprised and flattered by the involvement of both our employees and our customers. A jury made up of local economic actors selected the best photo in each category that was awarded with a prize, the highlight of the evening. The winning company, the Spanish recycling company RD San Juan was offered a mural sculpture created by a French artist Frédéric Daty whose other works were exhibited. As a nod: the favorite material of this artist is metal of course.”
And what about the future?
Mr. Malin concludes: “The end of 2017 was characterized by a very nice achievement: the installation of a shear press of very high capacity (1,700 tons of cutting force) in the Paris region. 2018 took place under good auspices marked by a full order book. We have returned to success, knowing that the market remains unpredictable and capricious. That’s why we will continue our diversification efforts by moving to new markets like India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, and strengthening our positions in the Gulf countries. Combined with the upcoming development of new applications for our presses, this will enable us to meet the challenges of the next 70 years.”