AMB Rousset, 52 years of agricultural machinery!
Find the article of the “Dauphiné Libéré” during its visit at AMB ROUSSET.
This summer, we are pushing the doors of local companies to discover their backstage.
Behind the shop windows, beyond the image they may convey, who are they?
For this episode, we’ll be visiting AMB Rousset, which manufactures agricultural machinery for harvesting and processing fruit.
You have to imagine the vast walnut groves of the village of Beaulieu. And, planted in the middle, 5,000 square meters of warehouse belonging to the company AMB Rousset. The contrast is certainly striking. But the place is symbolic, since agricultural machinery is manufactured here to harvest and process the fruit and this SME* with 90 employees is the world leader in the walnut growing market. This is where the company was born, in 1970, right next to the house of its founder, Maurice Rousset.
A former truck mechanic who had the idea of industrializing a machine to vibrate walnut trees with cables and thus make the fruit fall. “He was a bit of a jack-of-all-trades, with an inventor’s side,” describes Renaud Rousset, his grandson. “Even today, we sometimes try to solve a problem with 30 people… And then to call him and he immediately finds the solution, it’s impressive.
A family business present in 45 countries
After 52 years, the company has remained in the family fold. Renaud is the sales manager, his sister Pauline manages the spare parts store and their father Philippe is the manager. The Atelier mécanique de Beaulieu (AMB, the name comes from there) has evolved well. It designs and produces dozens of different machines: vibrators, always, but also machines for collecting, washing, sorting, drying and grading fruit. Over time, the company has also developed in hazelnut, almond, chestnut, apple, pecan and macadamia nuts… And has diversified, designing a machine for planting and replanting vines, and even a waste collector used for example on the 24 hours of Le Mans and festivals such as Hellfest.
Since 2009, the company has also had an international presence, as Renaud Rousset explains: “We have about 6,000 customers in more than 45 different countries, such as Chile, Kenya, Canada and, of course, a large number of European countries. A recent development, since five of the fifteen million euros of sales are made in exports, which represents an increase of 714% compared to 2015.
“We have to react immediately in case of a problem at the customer’s place”.
After-sales service is another important part of the company’s business, as its sales manager illustrates: “Someone who sells pools, once his check has been cashed, has nothing more to do. We have to react immediately if there is a problem with the customer.” During the harvest, that means a switchboard open seven days a week, as well as a warehouse full of spare parts, some suitable for the very first machines of 1970. In Europe, a fleet of commercial vehicles is responsible for transporting them. Once the job is done, they come back to park in front of the sheets, in the middle of the walnut groves. A few meters away from a traditional dryer, that of the great grandfather of the Rousset family.
Global company, local roots
All the machines come from the Beaulieu site. That’s where the 90 employees design and build them. This is an important source of employment for the surrounding area, as Renaud Rousset points out: “Of all our employees, 90% live less than 20 kilometers away. Some come by bike in the morning. We try to recruit from their families and friends. It’s rare that someone enters the company without knowing anyone!”
A way to ensure that this company, nestled in the heart of walnut country, remains anchored in its roots: “Several employees are themselves farmers or walnut producers on their side. They have experience in the field.
As far as experience is concerned, the company relies heavily on training through internships, work experience and summer contracts. Romain, a member of the design office and a local boy, had his first experience in the company when he was in… ninth grade!
He then worked as an assembler for three summers, then as a student in his engineering school. This versatility allows him to better understand the specificities of each machine. This is a challenge, because they are constantly modified according to the needs of the customer, the type of fruit harvested or the climate of his farm.