Vehicle manufacturer Toyota decided to establish a French site in Valenciennes at the dawn of the 2000s. Oxford Automotive, which designed and manufactured various mechanisms (door hinges, etc.) in France, approached Toyota. Emmanuelle Guillerot, who speaks fluent English and has a wealth of experience with foreign customers, was appointed key account manager. The goal was to win requests for proposals with Toyota and become a supplier to the French plant.
Accompanied numerous groups of Toyota engineers and buyers on visits to the group’s various sites, explaining the organisational structure and processes in English; won requests for proposals; analysed technical requirements – plans, specifications, and price and quality targets; monitored adjustments to bring products into line with the company’s manufacturing processes; managed the technical and project teams; conducted sales negotiations; and launched the prototyping, validation and standard manufacturing phases.
Oxford Automotive exceeded its initial objective, becoming a supplier to Toyota’s French plant for the Yaris and subsequently to its UK plant for the Corolla and its Turkish plant for the Avensis. Furthermore, working closely with Toyota’s technical staff, Oxford was able to successfully trial the Toyota Manufacturing System (based on cellular versus product line manufacturing). In 2015, the Essôme-sur-Marne plant, now owned by Defta, is still producing Toyota door hinges!
The German subsidiary of US group Milliken generated minimal sales with vehicle maker Renault in France, which it managed remotely. It had also been trying for 20 years to break into PSA, without success. The company decided to open a technical and sales office in Paris with the aim of developing sales with Renault and winning initial accreditation as an approved supplier to PSA. A team was put together for France: designers, project manager, technical experts, sales – four different nationalities with no automotive experience. Emmanuelle Guillerot was asked to oversee activities.
Trained the team in automotive working methods – including in particular project-based working, setting progress targets, defining a sales action plan, implementing a simple and effective management system (documenting and planning responses to requests for proposals, forecasting sales, etc.); organised customer lobbying; helped the team learn to independently plan and run customer meetings; organised responses to requests for proposals; set prices and margins; and negotiated with purchasing.
Grew annual sales with Renault from €0.3 million to €5 million in four years. Won accreditation as an approved supplier to PSA with an initial contract for annual sales of €6 million.