When the Ham plant in the French region of Somme became a Picardie Valves Industries site, it was transformed almost overnight. Previously the supplier to a major manufacturing group, the firm became an SME with responsibility for the development strategy and marketing of its own products. This abrupt introduction to the market pushed the company out of its comfort zone.
“Things have changed a lot for us,” confirmed Site Director Stéphane Golunski. “Under Pentair, the site was working blind. It acted on the instructions of the shareholder that it supplied, and was never able to find its place in the market. Without any customer contact, it had no involvement in the marketing, sales or development of its valves. On 1 January 2017, PVI became an independent, entrepreneurial business.
“That changed everything,” continued Stéphane Golunski. “Being in direct contact with the market on a daily basis, we had to adapt to put the customer first in our drive to create value. The site has taken on 13 people since January and has been reorganised into 6 areas of expertise, including a major marketing/sales division. From January 2018, the staff in this division will move into a new open-plan space, offering an ergonomic environment designed to encourage discussion and teamwork.”
“Our expertise lies in industrial valves,” said Olivier Fache, Technical Manager for the PVI site. “Monovar valves, butterfly valves, ball valves, anti-return valves and so on – these are our core business,” he said. “However, the market is in a state of flux, the industry is changing, and it’s now up to us to take control of our development. Since March 2017, we have been leveraging the potential of artificial intelligence to enhance our range and monitor installed systems. From next year, our valves will incorporate connected sensors that we can use to accurately assess operational wear. This is an ambitious project which opens up new markets for products from the Ham site and illustrates the kind of change that Stéphane Golunski has just described.”
“Now that it is no longer a part of the overall portfolio of a major group, PVI finds itself in a niche market where it has the opportunity to become a leading, innovative player,” added Bart Gruyaert, CEO of Altifort, a new PVI shareholder. “The autonomy we’ve just described provides the opportunity to strengthen our communication with major clients, identify their needs and anticipate their expectations. This is what is now allowing us to create an Altifuid offer combining products and services, laying the foundations for PVI’s new industrial plan.”