French supplier company ARaymond is experiencing remarkable financial growth, unaffected by global recessions or turbulent economic times. Indeed, the firm marked its 150-year anniversary by announcing further expansion of its Michigan-based manufacturing sites.

Antoine Raymond, CEO and president of ARaymond Network, is the current incumbent of a five-generation family-led business specialising in auto products. And he is making his mark by transforming the company culture and introducing new work processes.  

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Mr Raymond, CEO since 1998, says that he is promoting a collaborative approach within a business that is increasingly global and diverse. ARaymond has spread globally to 25 countries and 25 manufacturing sites with more than 5500 employees. 

Moreover, Mr Raymond is personally spearheading what he calls a “servant leadership style, a new management approach that better frees up talent and develops a flourishing organisation in the most peaceful way”. “My generation uses a different management style,” he says. “To be a leader today you have to support people and look at what you can do to help them succeed. It’s a more collaborative approach – not an autocratic management style that’s not welcome with younger employees. They expect to be more involved and that their work should have some meaning.

“With the multicultural and multi-industrial dimensions of our business, the ARaymond Network is committed to a general collaborative viewpoint – from our human [resources] to identifying potential new markets.”

A culture of respect

ARaymond’s employee focus has led to solid financial results, even during the global economic crisis of 2008-09. ARaymond Network’s global sales exceeded $1bn in 2014, with a turnover of €920m. On top of this, automotive sales rose about 12% in 2014, fuelled by growth in Europe, North America and Asia, according to Mr Raymond. Automotive, its largest business sector, comprises 95% of ARaymond’s business.

ARaymond began its work in the auto industry in the late 19th century. Early customers included Daimler-Benz, Peugeot and Ford. However, modern business needs have led the company to expand communications training to include 'non-violent and mindfulness programmes' for managers across global sites, a need arising as the ARaymond workplace grows increasingly complicated by global expansion.   

“We’ve done a lot of reflection around this issue,” says Mr Raymond. “Our goal is to instil an awareness of non-violent communication between people in the workplace. You can tell others what you feel without violent behaviour or language.  

“You don’t do it by preaching, but by thinking in more detail about what [good communication] means. We also develop in our managers this idea of core values. Beliefs can divide people, but good values unify people. Everyone agrees that respect for others is the most important [ingredient]. We’re trying to adapt these ideas to different cultures and ways of [communication] that are good for everyone on the planet.” 

Despite such programmes, Mr Raymond says he still has to deal in a complicated global business arena. “To meet competition head on, the only way is through new product innovation and standardised customer processes,” he says. “We’re trying to ‘walk the talk’ through collaboration and innovation. We don’t aim to compete but to innovate and provide great solutions to customers and stand on our strong expertise.

“I’m convinced our company will be more competitive in the future when it carries out its real mission of pooling resources, talents and skills.” 

Michigan expansion

ARaymond took part in Tech Crawl, a major Michigan supplier event held in the state that features a tour of the company's Rochester Hills plant. It was at this time that ARaymond announced the expansion of its Rochester Hills plant. The plant opened in 1986 and now produces injection-moulded fasteners for the auto industry worldwide. In the past six years, ARaymond Network has invested more than $12m in expanding its manufacturing operations at the plant.  

The latest Rochester Hills expansion will add 2750 square metres to an existing 7000-square-metre facility this year, adding an extra shift and new jobs. 

The facility received US Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design 'gold' certification shortly after opening, one of a few manufacturing plants in Michigan to receive such a rating, according to Gary Warren, the plant's operations manager.

Global growth

One reason for ARaymond’s solid growth has been its investments in production facilities across the world, but particularly in North America. In the past three years, the company has opened 14 new plants globally. It has also doubled its investments in North America in the past six years, according to Craig Cheney, ARaymond’s vice-president of business development.

“ARaymond’s connector products are used by virtually every automotive OEM in the world,” says Mr Cheney. The company's customer base includes second- and third-tier suppliers for auto and heavy truck assembly components for tubes and hoses. 

In North America, its RayConnect plant manufactures fluid connectors, while ARaymond Tinnerman produces clips, fasteners and connectors for interior, exterior, powertrain and chassis applications. In addition to the plant at Rochester Hills, the two companies have Michigan-based sales, engineering and manufacturing facilities in Auburn Hills. Its other North American manufacturing facilities are in Brunswick, Ohio; Logansport, Indiana; Flemingsburg, Kentucky; and Hamilton, Ontario. 

To demonstrate the company's wide range of business expertise, it recently adopted the slogan 'more than fastening'. With its rich history and increasing global presence, an increasing number of customers and companies are coming to appreciate that there is a lot more to Raymond than meets the eye.