Bobcat celebrates 60 years of Pontchâteau, France Factory
From school benches to world renowned telehandlers
Bobcat’s factory in Pontchâteau in France traces its history back to the early 20th century when Joseph Sambron transformed his school bench factory into a hub for farm machinery and bicycles. By 1920, the factory employed hundreds of workers and produced flour mills and cider presses. Following Joseph's retirement, his son Maurice ventured into mini-dumper production, selling over 50,000 units, and paving the way for the construction of the present-day Pontchâteau plant in 1963. The new facility specialized in off-road dumpers and forklifts.
Today, the factory is renowned for its production of telescopic handlers, which commenced in the early 1980s under the Sambron brand and was then acquired by the Fayat Group. Under the new ownership, Sambron became FDI Sambron and introduced hydrostatic telescopic handlers. In 2000, FDI Sambron was acquired by American corporation, Ingersoll-Rand, which also owned the Bobcat brand. Consequently, FDI Sambron transformed into Bobcat France. In 2007, Bobcat was acquired by the South Korean group, Doosan, and continues to operate as part of the Doosan Bobcat EMEA company.
Thirty thousand telehandlers made in France
In 2023, the French factory achieved an impressive milestone, when it manufactured its 111,000th machine. Out of this figure, around 30,000 of the machines have been telehandlers proudly carrying the Bobcat signature logo and typical white and orange colours.
“Our current telehandler line-up consists of 14 models in five platforms, with key markets in agriculture, construction and rental. Managing such a comprehensive portfolio is only possible thanks to our experienced engineering team, which is running all the European operations and contributing to global telehandler development activities. The majority of our production, over 80%, is targeted for export,” says Philippe Marescot, Pontchâteau factory manager at Doosan Bobcat EMEA.
Substantial regional employer
Employment has seen significant growth alongside production, with the workforce more than doubling to 420 employees in the last 10 years. The Mayor of Pontchâteau, Danielle Cornet, recognizes the factory's significance as a major regional employer, with over 50% of employees residing within a 20 km radius, and offering diverse job opportunities ranging from manufacturing to executive roles, administration and Research & Development.
Catherine Perio, an accountant at Bobcat in Pontchâteau, embodies the company's positive work environment. With an impressive thirty-six years of service, she credits her long tenure to the company's continuous growth, which remains fulfilling even after four decades. The supportive and friendly staff have also played a significant role in her journey.
The future of the Pontchâteau factory
"Over the past decade, significant investments, amounting to approximately 30 million EUR, have been made in human resources, research and development and facility enhancements. These structural investments have strengthened the Pontchâteau factory’s capacity to meet market demands and maintain a growth trajectory aligned with market needs," Philippe Marescot concludes with a positive outlook.