1986 : creation of SOFAME 86
The SOciété de FAbrication des ets MElot (Melot manufacturing company), SOFAME for short, makers of sewing machines, went bankrupt.
On 26 June 1986, 26 laid-off employees invested their severance pay in the purchase of the assets of the company in liquidation.
Among these assets was the embryo of what would become the company’s present-day manufacturing site at Sargé-lès-Le Mans (72). The floor area at that time was 2,000 m2.
Although the creation was in the nature of a cooperative, the new enterprise took the form of a classic limited company. It took the name of SOFAME 86, in reference to its year of foundation.
Under the management of a charismatic leader, Jean Coudurier, it started by continuing the business of sewing-machine and seating manufacture, but immediately adopted an orientation towards the industrial furniture market.
The enterprise developed rapidly in the course of the nineties, gaining the confidence of industrial concerns, specialist retailers and mail-order companies.
1988 : first external growth
SOFAME took over MAMERS INDUSTRIE. It thus acquired the capacity to produce metal storage units to complete its product range.
In parallel, the area of the Sargé site was increased to 3,200 m2 and a 1,600 m2 storage depot was opened a few hundred metres away.
A retail branch, aiming to serve educational establishments, was founded that same year.
1995-1998 : change of scale
The floor area of the Sargé site was increased to 4,200 m2 in 1995.
An industrial furniture subsidiary, MIS (Mobilier Industriel Sofame), was founded in 1998 to canvass leading industrial enterprises.
The same year, the Sargé factory was again enlarged by 600 m2 to provide a storage area, which was soon converted to accommodate a new epoxy-powder painting line.
By the end of the nineties, less than 12 years after its foundation, SOFAME had risen to 5th rank among French industrial furniture manufacturers.
2000 : a new century and a new offer of services
Early in the 2000s, SOFAME took up the manufacture of special furniture designed to meet the specific needs of industrial companies, as determined by the nature of their activity. The company analysed practice on each production site and proposed workbenches, workstations, service trolleys, storage units and seating adapted to its activity.
SOFAME swiftly built up its know-how and gained recognition by its users for customized manufacture.
In 2002, in the interests of simplifying its structures and clarifying its commercial policy, the EDAT and MIS subsidiaries were merged and then absorbed by SOFAME 86, which took the opportunity to change its business name to SOFAME (SOciété de FAbrication de Mobilier Ergonomique – ergonomic furniture manufacturing company).
2008 : another step forward in service provision
SOFAME got one step ahead of the market by becoming the first manufacturer to offer a selection of products held in stock and despatched within 48 hours.
A 1,500 m2 storage depot was built beside the production plant to handle these items.
This service, presented in the 48-hour Catalogue, was an immediate success which has not subsequently belied its promise.
2015 : new prospects
The five associates who still held capital decided to dispose of the business and entrusted the management of the company to the present team, with financial support from the SODERO minority investment fund.
The takeover project consisted in profiting from the company’s strong points (high-quality products, manufacture on demand, 48-hour service, etc.) to attain further stages of development.
A new communication strategy and restructuring on commercial and marketing lines produced its first results with the appearance of a remodelled general catalogue, made easier to use, and a considerable extension of the offer in the 48-hour catalogue.
Introduction of a production management system according to the techniques of lean manufacturing has enabled manufacture to become more fluid, while simultaneously reducing work in progress.
The company occupies a site 20,000 m2 in area, of which 7,000 m2 is floor area divided among production (5,000 m2), offices (500 m2), and the logistics depot (1,500 m2).
2018 : a turning-point year
The company has put in a new ERP system covering all the functions in the enterprise in preparation for tackling new stages in organization and growth.
The new range of workstations adjustable for height, especially electrically, is proving a great success.
The enterprise is expanding into export: already present in the Swiss watchmaking industry, it is extending its coverage across Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany and Spain. To this end, it participates in international fairs.
The new internet site and its associated extranet will enable customers to profit from easily accessible information updated in real time.
Many other projects are being developed or are under study in furtherance of this dynamic, and to bring new solutions to the market.