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Yesterday Family

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1978, the day everything changed…

our first order from Peugeot!

Following a default by one of his customers, a Peugeot supplier, André Coutier wrote to the manufacturer to tell them they could deliver the parts directly.

" A few days later, we received our first order directly from Peugeot. We were suddenly an approved supplier to a major motor manufacturer. This initial order opened our eyes to the seriousness of the automotive sector, with regular payments, three-month estimated delivery schedules, an idea of annual volumes, which helped us improve the way we organised production and supplies. For us, it was an extraordinary development full of benefits. From then on, our dream and our desire have been to become a full-line supplier to automotive manufacturers. "

— ANDRÉ COUTIER, President of AKWEL’s Supervisory Board


" For Joseph and Roger, his brothers and business partners, André was the eldest. They knew he was passionate about technology, resourceful, hard-working and steadfast. They immediately trusted him and devoted themselves, as did he, to making the company a success, working shifts 7 days a week. "

Françoise Coutier  — sister of André, Joseph and Roger Coutier

Paris Exhibition 1976
Posters created
by Françoise Coutier

" While everything changed over the years, the principles and standards remained the same. The company’s family aspect always gave a special boost to everything we did here. I remember the enthusiasm, the feeling that we were all pushing in the same direction and the blind trust we all put in André. Over the years, it became more than just a job for me, almost a family. It was my life. "

Monique Berrod  — secretary, arrived in 1978, 40 years at AKWEL.

Our secret gardens
André Coutier

" I always thought that I would work for MGI Coutier, AKWEL now, and the idea of becoming part of this line entails some responsibility in terms of continuity. While I am proud of this family history, it is also a burden, or at least a challenge, because you need to be up to the task. "

Nicolas Coutier  — son of Roger Coutier - AKWEL’s Business development VP

Family values upon which
the AKWEL model was founded

Work can be seen

" My two brothers and I were raised in a working culture. This environment made us strong, gave us a sense of responsibility and independence. When we asked my father what we could do, he would reply: ‘Are you not old enough yet to see what’s to be done?‘. I’ve never forgotten this idea that work can be seen. "
— ANDRÉ COUTIER, President of AKWEL’s Supervisory Board

A principle passed on across generations and the entire company.

"My father told me time and again that work can be seen, and if I couldn't see it, there was nothing he could do for me, as his own father had taught him. Now it’s my turn to use this a lot. A new director recently asked me: ‘What should I do?‘. I told him: ‘I don't know. Work can be seen...‘ “

Simplicity & humility

" Keeping a simple, humble attitude is how I was brought up and what I have always done. To this day, I still drive through the village in my tractor, and I still chop my own wood. People in Champfromier don’t understand; they say “He can afford anything he wants”. But I’m not into palaces. I never went on holidays when I was younger, except once when I went skiing with the kids. Otherwise, we used to go to the in-laws in the Cévennes for two or three weeks, and we made pies in the bakery. That was our holidays. "
— André Coutier, President of AKWEL’s Supervisory Board

This taste for simplicity permeated through AKWEL, down to its industrial logic. “I’ve always tried to eliminate all unnecessary complexities, to simplify as much as possible. There is a basic principle to be observed in any company, particularly in production: the 2SRE (Simple, Solid, Reliable, Easy to make). True intelligence for performance is to know how to do simple things”.
— André Coutier, President of AKWEL’s Supervisory Board

Tight management

This principle reflects the AKWEL group’s business ethics. It is entirely encapsulated in an expression: quality turnover. The importance of this notion became apparent in 1974.
‘Traumatised by the 1973 oil crisis, we took on a tremendous amount of work to be sure not to run out, without paying too much attention to the prices we were charged. We posted our first loss that year. That is when an accountant friend of mine recommended that I create cost price cards for every product, to eliminate those with which we couldn't earn a living. We were losing more money on half of our turnover than we were earning with the other half! This first actual failure was our biggest lesson in management. That’s when we began to focus on the quality of our turnover without being blinded by quantity. To this day, quality turnover remains the key word at AKWEL.‘ "
— André Coutier, President of AKWEL's Supervisory Board

Common sense

" From the start I’ve always tried to make work easy. ‘Making work easier‘ was one of our mother’s favourite expressions. For example, when we put something on the floor and we had to bend down to pick it up. She told us to put it down at shoulder height to avoid unnecessary efforts. Farmer’s wisdom. In 1972, I used this approach when we were given an order for a mould in an attempt to alter it so as to facilitate its assembly on the press, which saved us a lot of time and helped optimise the utilisation rate of the machine. "
— André Coutier, President of AKWEL's Supervisory Board

The Champfromier roots
— Located in the Ain department, in the Haut-Jura regional natural park — 1975 population: 326 — 2019 population: 735
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Champfromier, France
André Coutier

The beating heart of AKWEL is in Champfromier, where it all began and continues to this day. In a village where the Coutier family have been born and raised for four centuries.

When the Coutier brothers first rented a barn to start a business, it was in Champfromier. When they had their first workshop built, it was also in Champfromier. Over the years, Champfromier has remained the flagship, the chosen land.

Nowadays, these roots
are at the very core
of the AKWEL model.

" During a job interview, everything must be crystal clear. If you don't want to work in the country, don't come and work for us, because we’re in Champfromier and the country is what defines us; our farming and artisan background runs through our veins. "


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