Jean Burelle, 59, succeeded his father and company-founder Pierre Burelle as chairman and CEO of Compagnie Plastic Omnium in 1987. Burelle was interviewed at Plastic Omnium's headquarters in Levallois-Perret, near Paris, by Stephane Farhi.
How broad is your customer base?
Ten years ago, Renault provided 80 percent of Plastic Omnium's automotive sales. By 2000, Renault and PSA will provide less than half. Opel is now our third customer. We are increasing business with BMW-Rover and Fiat Auto. We have just broken into Volkswagen and Daimler-Benz. We already supply Toyota and Honda in the UK, Nissan in Spain, Mitsubishi in the Netherlands.
We opened three plants last year for these new or growing customers: Herentals, Belgium (bumpers and fuel systems for Opel Astra); Measham, UK (bumpers for Rover and Jaguar) and Puebla, Mexico (fenders and bumpers for VW New Beetle).
Key account managers for Volkswagen, for GM and for Fiat are in charge of all business done with those customers. These managers - most of them will not be French - will report to a 'super' key account manager, who will be in charge of all the non-French carmakers.
How goes your joint venture with Valeo to make complete cockpit modules?
We have just hired its boss, Adam Denman. Deliberately, he does not belong to either company. We want to get orders for a cockpit module as soon as possible. (Valeo SA Chairman) Noel Goutard is not a very patient man, neither am I.
The venture has two aims: to integrate and to deliver complete dashboards to carmakers, and to design a completely new module, in order to make cheaper and lighter cockpits faster. Therefore, common hidden parts, such as HVAC, can be used on different vehicles.