Finding the right personto be the link between customers and production who also speaks fluent French. That was the aim when Philippe Cacheleux, who has handled Setra's business in France for 22 years, planned to retire. Newcomer Laura Loué meets these criteria by a wide margin. She grew up in Toulouse and switches easily between French, Swedish and English.
"Obviously, it's a challenge to take over after somebody who has been here so long. I am new both to the company and the industry. But I have always worked with sales and I'm quite competitive," she says.
With a Master's degree from IDRAC Business School in Montpellier, she took on the job of sales manager at sporting goods retailer Decathlon in Lyon. Then Laura moved to Sweden, learnt the language and worked as district salesperson for French wallcovering company Texdecor. And now it is full focus on wood.
"I wanted to work at Setra because I really like doing deals. It feels right to work with sustainable products and in addition my father is a carpenter. I have been close to wood all my life."
A lot has changed since 1995 when Philippe opened an AssiDomän office in Fécamp in the north of France. This was before what is now Setra was founded. Before mobiles and laptops. Philippe remembers with a laugh how he was always looking for a telephone box when on a business trip. It was the only way to keep in touch with the office, and much of the information to customers was sent by fax.
Today the technical challenges are not as great. At the same time logistics and service have become even more important. So it is a good fi t that Laura, who lives in Stockholm, is based at Setra's head office. Here she is in the centre of things and near the sawmills. This does not prevent her continuing with the same close customer contact as Philippe. During the autumn, they visited Setra's customers in France so that she could get to know them and their businesses.
"They allocated a lot of time and really made an effort to help Laura understand their businesses. Customers feel comfortable with her," says Philippe.
He remembers clearly how it was being new to the company himself.
"I got the go-ahead to take full responsibility for managing the French market. It has been great fun to work with so much freedom and now we are well established, especially in some niches."
During his last months at Setra, Philippe has worked alongside Laura. Even if he will miss the job, colleagues and customers, who in many cases have become good friends, he is ready to hand over. As well as the customer list, there is an especially important document that he will leave behind.
"Obviously, you will inherit my address list of where you can eat the best snails, oysters and frogs' legs on your travels," he says to Laura with a wink.
Title: Retired Customer Manager for France
Age: 64 Lives: Fécamp, France
Family: Wife Anna, two children and three grandchildren.
Interests: Travel and playing the guitar
Title: New Customer Manager for France from January
Lives: Bromma, Stockholm, Sweden
Interests: Riding (has been an elite equestrian), running and cycling
Text: Linn Treijs
Photo: Emil Nordin