Rapido celebrates 70 anniversary: Family business since its inception
Most caravans and motorhome manufacturers started out as family companies. French Rapido, who in 2018 celebrated the 70 anniversary, is no exception. Now it's Pierre Rousseau, the son of the founder Constant Rousseau, who holds the threads, and BoCM got an exclusive interview with him during the Caravan Fair in September 2018. Pierre Rousseau has "been with" since the start 70 years ago, and entered the company as 23 year in 1971.
It all started in 1948. - 'Then the Rousseau family went on holiday with a tent. It didn't seem my mother was particularly satisfying. She was afraid of cows, because at that time you camped out in the terrain where it was a suitable place to find. So already the same year my father decided to build a camping trailer »- says Pierre Rousseau to the Motorhome and Caravan Magazine. But it wasn't just a small camping trailer. - "When my father had built the first caravan, it was soon more people who wanted such a caravan, and thus more construction was started. So Rapido also started building caravans »- says Pierre. The development was closely related to the fact that, in addition to the 1950 years, most people in Europe received longer holidays and improved wage growth.
The demand for good caravans took off, Rapidos folding camper sold in increasing numbers. 1969 then came the first real caravan, and already in 1976 the factory had more than 100 employees. More and more people wanted to camp comfortably, the 1970 years became a jubilee for Rapido, Pierre says. But then it was the campers then. - "Already around 1980, my father began to look at the development of campers. We delivered the first motorhome in 1983, and from there it has just increased ”- says Pierre Rousseau, who took over the management in 1981.
Up until the turn of the millennium, Rapido invested in both caravans and motorhomes. After a comprehensive discussion internally, it was concluded that campers seemed to be the future. So from 2003 there are only motorhomes who have rolled out of the assembly lines in Rapido's growing number of factories. - "For we would be across Europe, and not least in the Nordic countries. Therefore, we developed camping vehicles specifically adapted to Nordic requirements, with Alde and extra thermal insulation. Now, all 40% of our output goes to export »- explains Pierre, adding that the focus on Norway has been a great success.
4. largest in Europe
Rapido currently has 1.300 employees, who in 7 factories grind out 16.000 products a year. This makes Rapido the fourth largest car brand, and the company as the second largest caravan in Europe, says Pierre. And now the next generation is on its way. The son Nicolas went into 2014 into the company for the job of management and development. For Rapido is a family business. - "We all own the shares ourselves, and thus we can be completely free and independent," - says Pierre.
What is the success recipe, and how do you see the further development of the caravan industry?
- "The recipe is very simple, it is about making products that most people want and like. People have more and more leisure time and want to fill it with experiences. Our campers give the opportunity to travel almost everywhere, and thus get to share in the many experiences that camping life can provide. We, as manufacturers, must therefore supply a broad offer that meets the users' quality requirements », says Pierre. He envisions that the motorhomes will be like in the foreseeable future. - "We are clearly getting stricter environmental friendliness requirements, but a lot depends on the engine manufacturers. I think hybrids will come first. Full transition to the electric drive of motorhomes may be greater challenges, due to the weight challenges, but here the development will show what is possible to achieve ”- says one of the caravan industry's" Grand Old Men "who is far from planning to enter the years.
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