In Belgium, after the merger, our customers ended up with a single supplier instead of three!
3 questions… on your feeling on the merger TOTALFINA ELF…
What was your initial reaction to the announcement of the project?
Having experienced very closely the sale of the network, general trade and LPG of Elf in Belgium in 1994, my first reaction was a feeling of fear. Afterwards, I thought, on the contrary, that as a bitumen manager in a small entity like Elf Oil Belgium, the creation of a large national subsidiary would generate significant opportunities, for growth of the company and personal challenges. And it turned out to be quite accurate: I lived a rich journey that led me from bitumen to information system in Marketing and Services in Benelux through bitumen in France, LPG, Benelux purchases and fuel cards!
How did you find your marks in the new Total?
The year 2000 was very dense! The combination of the three Total, Fina and Elf entities has reshuffled the cards for some of our customers, who found themselves with a single supplier where they had three before. It was necessary to decide quickly on strategic and technical aspects, while being very careful not to lose anything apart, so that the services rendered to the customers are at the height while obtaining the effects of sought synergies.
For me, coming from a hundred people entity in Antwerp, getting to know a lot of new colleagues has been very rewarding. As TotalFina was already grouped in Brussels, the bitumen team of Elf Oil Belgium has settled there first, before being joined a few months later by the lubricants and AS24. To integrate more easily, a system of sponsorship had been put in place, which greatly facilitated the reception and integration. In fact the only problem was the lack of square meters, because even having rented a few floors of offices near the headquarters, we were tight like sardines!
What is the most memorable memory you have of this period?
I remember that in France almost everyone considered me as an ex-Fina, simply because I'm Belgian! This was an advantage because the historical rivalry (which I discovered) between the two French oil groups had to be felt at certain levels. Personally, I find that the constitution of the new unit was carried out at the right pace and that the new Total was created organically and naturally.
The merger was a period during which we worked hard to stabilize our mutual fund, affirm our choices and technical selections, convince the market of our added value ... and to grow. It was an exceptional time in my career that I think back with a lot of fun. Total has brought me individual development opportunities in a strong group with a business always in motion.