Our SME based in the South of France designs and produces high tech custom parts for the protection of equipments used in harsh environments from ocean to space. Back on a decisive decade.
The Battezzati years
It is in Toulon, in a downtown street, that the future SMAC was born. The company was originally called « Toulon Rechapage ». Charles Battezzati, a businessman who was always on the lookout for innovative solutions, was an engineer of Arts et Métiers who had just been demobilized as a naval officer.
The combination between his creativity and his engineering culture allowed him to rapidly expand its core business, the retreading of aircraft tires, and to attract clients such as Air France and UTA. In the 60s, SMAC added to its skills, the composite materials manufacturing. SMAC has developed several parts, which will equip helicopters of Sud Aviation, Eurocopter’s ancestor. In the 80s, after more than 30 years at the company’s head, Charles Battezzati went out of the business and sold SMAC to Thomson-CSF group. Philippe Robert arrived in La Garde (South of France) as an employee of Thomson-CSF, at the time, owner of the company. But in 1997, the group wanted to sell the company. Philippe ROBERT’s mission was to find a buyer.
The French businessman
His choice was Serge Seguin, an atypical businessman. Native from northern France, he left France to go to the United States to complete his studies with an MBA. Felt in love with the country and its people, he decided to settle there and build his career there. His idea was to sell French products that could interest Amercian companies. An anecdote sumed up his energy: to allow motorbikes to get a place in America, he achieved to change a federal law allowing the circulation of 50 cm3!
Serge Seguin, became majority shareholder of SMAC and asked to Christian Van Hecke to help him. Christian Van Hecke will become the future President of SMAC and the MontBlanc Technologies Group. Coming from Eastern France, where he had been the CEO of Giat Industries in Saint Chamond, where he had launched an ambitious diversification plan.
In connection with Philippe Robert, who develops new products (SMACTANE®, SMACSONIC® …), both men contribute to give a new dynamic to the SME. In a difficult economic and geopolitical context, marked by the collapse of historical opportunities, the innovation and diversification begin to pay. The turnover starts to grow and, more importantly, the company can rely on four core areas and expertise: reduction of shock and vibration, sealing products used in harsh environments, acoustical comfort improvement and pyroshock damping. Now recognized by most prestigious groups and companies, SMAC is a key company in the engineering protection field.
Since 1997 (when Thomson-CSF sold SMAC), the new shareholders of SMAC have focused on its development by a continuous innovation.
The most visible aspect is the new product families, providing the company new markets. To remain at the forefront in demanding fields such as aeronautics, space, motor racing or underwater applications, SMAC is constantly investing in skills development and integration of new expertise.
Nearly a quarter of all employees spend much of their time to « create tomorrow. » Now, engineers and technicians have all testing and R&D means to meet their goals.
With its experience in the field of marine seals, SMAC is associated with main French naval programs.
SMAC still brings its elastomer expertise and provides solutions to equip surface vessels, submarines, torpedoes and sonars. This is the historical business core of the company, a French specialist of elastomer parts for defence applications, particularly for navy applications. With more than 65 years experience in this field, SMAC develops products and solutions to meet the requirements of material used in harsh environments. The geographic location of the company, in Toulon (Mediterranean French military harbor), has enabled SMAC to acquire an incomparable expertise in the submarine area.
SMAC soars. Founded by a former naval officer, however, the company has always found new opportunities in the aeronautic field.
Retreading tires, manufacturing helicopter seals … SMAC has always applied its skills to aviation activities. However, for a long time, this area has remained marginal until the creation of SMACSONIC® in 1999. Since 1999, SMAC developed a unique expertise recognized by leading aerospace manufacturers in improving the cabin acoustical comfort, as well as the watertighness and the reduction of shock and vibration.
Airbus, Boeing, Dassault … the largest manufacturers joined Eurocopter, Arianespace and other SMAC historical clients.
Since the 2000s, SMAC core areas of expertise and opportunities were diversified. This is the result of a maturely considered strategy.
Philippe Robert, General Manager of the company, attributes the initiative to two men. « When I took over the business, for sure, I had my own ideas: to develop SMAC, to create new products, to exhibit on trade shows, to promote R&D, etc. Upon arrival in 1998, Serge Seguin and Christian Van Hecke added that SMAC would manufacture dampers and shock absorbers ».
A R&D Department was created, this department grew: the strategic dimension has become a part of the culture of the company. At the point of organizing, since 10 years, an annual seminar, entirely devoted to strategic reflexion.
MontBlanc Technologies: a group strength
In 2005, SMAC became subsidiary of MontBlanc Technologies Group and henceforth relied on a group size and capital structure to meet the needs of the main contractors in the industry field.