ROYAL CANIN: “There is no great business without great people,”
By Don Campbell
Our regular readers will recognize this company and its remarkable story. Royal Canin has a wonderful vision in providing the most precise nutritional answer for each Cat and Dog and is a trusted brand for owners wanting to keep their pets fit and healthy. Last year we caught up with Managing Director of Royal Canin South Africa, Frederic Desbrosses to discuss the developments of 2012. This year we focussed on the 10th birthday of their South African factory and the significant role this company has played in South Africa for the past decade.
“Celebrating ten years of the South African factory is a milestone,” Fredric opens up, “In conjunction with this, we also celebrated long serving associates with acommemorative trophies and 10 year anniversary gifts including a traditional spit -braai in the Eco Park attended by all associates. It was a lot of fun.”
A quick recap on Royal Canin: A French brand, part of the Mars Corporation that entered South Africa in March 2001 after distributing the product through an established network for several years to establish a local taste. In 2003 they established themselves with a state-of-the-art South African factory and now benefit from three fully integrated distribution centres in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban which brings them into closer proximity with their local markets.
Last year we looked at the Royal Canin Eco Park, an incredibly self-sustainable environmental site that, in 2003 Mr Henri Legarde (CEO of Royal Canin at the time), and Dr. Charles Moore established as a natural ecological safe zone surrounding the Royal Canin factory in South Africa to protect and rebuild a natural, indigenous environment.
Well ahead of their peers this practice of repair and creation has since been consistent through the history of the company and has developed a culture of sustainability that is emulated and driven by the staff. This was all featured in the celebrations: a decade of doing what other companies can only dream of and an acknowledgement to those who work there and share in the dream.
“There is no great business without great people. We don’t have employees,” Frederic points out, “We have engaged and passionate associates. Employees put in only what they’re asked to and they do only what their jobs entail. The difference between the two is that the Mars Associates Concept has the key elements of equality, egalitarianism, a mutually beneficial relationship between the business and the associates, open communication, freedom with accountability, productivity and mutual respect. We attract and retain people with passion, with focus.”
Sustainability is very important at Royal Canin and for the Mars Corporation. A long term look at ssustainability has to be taken into consideration for the environment, use of raw materials and recyclable materials to develop an attitude and a culture that is respondent through the staff.
“Ten years is not just an event but a result of applying proper business principles and ensuring that our vision for the future and our Mars 5 Principles are clearly communicated on an on going basis,” Frederic expresses proudly, “We’re also refurbishing the office, to further enhance the working experience and this is one of many upgrades that are planned for the future.”
Quality doesn’t happen by chance and a lot of time and investment goes into Royal Canin’s associates who are largely responsible for the standards of the product. Through training, education and development Royal Canin is creating a talent pipeline of local people with the future aim of having more management from the local area.
“Principles and passion are integral to our staff and our culture,” Frederic says, “That is what Royal Canin is and must always be about, passion,”
Recognizing that a happy associate will inevitably equal a happy customer, the company ensures that every staff member is kept up to date with the latest products training from the headquarters in France, offered regularly assessed personal development programs and given the best tools to work with.
“We have always had a laboratory on site but there was a need to upgrade the facilities. The laboratory is central to our daily analyses of raw materials and finished products. Raw materials undergo stringent checks before offloading is allowed. Should these raw materials not meet our international specifications for quality and food safety, the raw material is rejected immediately.
As part of the Mars Corporation, Royal Canin is committed and wholly dedicated to the Mars Five Principles of Quality, Freedom, Efficiency, Responsibility and Mutuality. These are the guidelines that have encouraged the development of Royal Canin into the company it is today.
“Major investments have been put into quality and food safety with a large investment plan to reinforce the product,” Frederic states.
You’ve probably noticed that “Quality” is the First Principle and is not simply a word used in documentation when it comes to Royal Canin, but rather a complete, holistic and enviable approach to business. With so much effort being put in to ensure that the animals, dogs and cats, come first coming from the top down it’s easy to appreciate where the loyalty and the love of the associates come from.
“Cats and Dogs first,” he says, “We work with people who have passion and a love of animals like veterinarians and breeders. The founder of Royal Canin was a veterinarian and his first client was a breeder and that strong relationship has remained,”
“Passion is the driving force,” Michelle Christie, who heads up corporate affairs at Royal Canin South Africa says, “Every one of our associates has pets and we think about animals on and off the job. All you have to do is speak to them to get a feel for their enthusiasm and their drive to help create a better world for pets.”
In conclusion, the model for Royal Canin revolves around a special focus on passionate commitment to a very strong belief. To emulate and represent what you believe in and knowing what you want to stand for. This tenth year celebration, I believe is more than just a birthday but a historic benchmark similar to those legendary folk heroes of the past who were not afraid to do something different because they believed it could work.
Broadcasting Africa’s Dreams: The Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC)
Daemon Sands is the chief editor for the benchmark publication of Littlegate Publishing, Endeavour Magazine. He has written for best selling magazines and newspapers and is a keynote speaker at business conferences around the globe.