A graduate of the prestigious ESTP Civil Engineering school in Paris and holder of a Master of Science (Eng.) from the University of Birmingham, David Fitoussi, has, at the age of 49, 25 years of experience in the construction and engineering sector.
After 16 years working for general contractors (Bouygues first, then Vinci), notably as subsidiary manager, he joined the engineering and construction company SNC Lavalin, serving first as the head of their Lyon office and then as regional manager. In early 2017, when SNC-Lavalin was taken over by EDEIS, he was appointed deputy general manager in charge of the Building & Industry business.
In his new role as general manager of OpenBox, he will shape operations from design to successful completion and will be responsible for organising and managing the company.
His duties will also include helping to devise the strategic plan and to accelerate growth by diversifying products and services in tandem with Bertrand Chabanne, OpenBox's chairman.
“I was won over by Co Design&Build straight away,” said David Fitoussi. “You have to be bold to base your business on being innovative in the way you enter contractual relations with customers, but this is win-win for both parties! My aim is to support the development of OpenBox by drawing on my experience and encouraging agility, transparency and the inventive spirit that make the company DNA.”
“We are delighted to welcome David Fitoussi,” declared OpenBox's chairman Bertrand Chabanne,. “His technical skills, managing expertise and his contacts will enable us to nurture our strategic vision and pursue our growth goals.”
A duo of such entrepreneurs, benefitting from the support of the OpenBox team, perfectly encapsulates the founding values of the company: collaboration, co-construction and commitment.
8:30am: I arrive by bike at OpenBox. A sunny day in Lyon, between Fourvière and the Incity Tower, is a real delight! I hope Clément hasn't forgotten the croissants. Thomas is walking in! Others take scooters from the nearby train station.
Loïc - Project manager on the move.
10:00am: A stand-up meeting with coffee in hand. It's my turn to take the lead. We do this every fortnight, it's our way of keeping every up to speed with what's going on, ironing out any little creases and taking quick decisions, from the most trivial (“how about we adopt a cactus?”) to the important operational ones about projects. In addition, we share our experiences. It may look chilled out but it can be serious stuff and we take notes for anyone who is absent. Everyone plays a part. Frédéric – Design Manager.
11:00am: I head over to the Pichon work site in Veauche. I have to get a status update about the ongoing work from Philippe, the site manager, and meet the client. I like the fact that my work is split between the office and the field. I'm going to check out the footbridge that has just been laid. It's very satisfying to participate in a project where the building's architecture and its integration into the landscape have been so carefully planned. Loïc – Project manager still on the move.
1:30pm: Companies have started replying to the invitation to tender for our latest development. I have to compile a shortlist. Good news, with a little optimisation, a few technical adjustments and some negotiation, I should be able to complete the necessary purchases within the budgets. Then we have to bring in the companies before making the final choice. In late afternoon I have a meeting to confirm the successful completion of our project in Meyzieu. Using Finalcad® for the removal of contingencies should make things go quicker.
Jean-Christian - Concentrated Projects Manager.
The day is over, and the last person out flicks the switch to off. Outside, Lyon, the city of light, is still bustling!
At the end of December 2018, the general shareholders' meeting of OpenBox approved the accounts closed on August 31st. For the third consecutive year, growth has been fundamental for OpenBox with turnover of more than €25m, up by 134%.
The company is being restructured and recently hired a new project manager, bringing the number of employees to eight. We are pursuing growth, but remain attentive to controlling our overheads. The economic model remains the same: we convert fixed costs into variable costs (support services provided by BEG Ingénierie) and our team is 100% operational. OpenBox can provide design/execution services at competitive prices thanks to a light and agile structure.
After Jadéo, GLD, Transports Charvin and the developer DCB Logistics, other companies have entrusted us with their projects, such as Papeteries Pichon (Manutan Group) and France Machines Outils. A big name in retail sector also entrusted us with the refurbishment of a platform in the Paris region in early 2019. We will soon start a 70,000 m² project in the west of France, and a 37,000 m² project in the Paris region.
OpenBox Co Design&Build currently manages more than 150,000 m² of works.
Marine Dumas of Etyo, Project Manager on the Papeteries Pichon project, tells us about Co Design&Build
What is your role in the Papeteries Pichon project?
We are providing project management for Papeteries Pichon. So, we have provided support from the start as technical advisers for the construction of the building up to launch of the automated process.
How is the collaboration with the OpenBox teams going?
In both design and construction, the OpenBox staff were highly attentive to our requests and they anticipated the process-related constraints from the design phase onwards, enabling the project to be completed smoothly and on time. Despite these constraints, OpenBox also created an elegant architectural style which is very appreciable for a company for which this will be the place of work.
We also appreciated the responsiveness of our contacts. The operation evolved in a professional but very pleasant atmosphere.
For you, how does Co Design&Build come to life?
At this stage of the project, what stands out most are the concepts of transparency and dialogue: we had access to all the contractors’ quotes, which is not always the case. This enabled us to measure our negotiation leverage on global purchases and to arbitrate more easily regarding the execution of additional services. All necessary information was available and all choices and decisions were made through balanced dialogue.
Was that a highlight of this project?
The special feature of this project was the integration of an automated Savoye process. Throughout the project, we had to coordinate between the construction workers and the automation technicians, who did not necessarily take the same approach. This was all done in a cooperative manner, and even enabled us to get ahead of the schedule.
Papeteries Pichon (Manutan Group) decided to construct their new logistics platform on the Forez plain and the operation was monitored by Loïc Thomas, project manager.
OpenBox designed and executed this project: 21,600 m² of fully automated warehouse space and high-quality offices. A new Decree, published in April 2017, allows the surface area of storage units to be doubled to 12,000 m², whereas until now it had been capped at 6,000 m². The building will double the order processing capacity of Papeteries Pichon, which is growing rapidly.
We are currently raising the superstructure of the building. The slab will be poured at the beginning of 2019. This step is particularly important for the success of the operation as it is the main interface with the automated process. The structures supporting the various logistic areas are extremely sensitive to changes in position. The tolerance levels are in the order of a millimetre and have required the deployment of a finite element model in order to predict the differential settlement under each of the supports.
From the beginning of the project, the staff from OpenBox, Etyo (Project Management Assistance), Savoye and Papeteries Pichon worked together using the Co Design&Build method: regular meetings and the co-creation of solutions taking into account the technical, architectural, logistical, environmental and security constraints, as well as the transparency of procurement prices.
Special attention was paid to the architectural quality of the buildings, including the offices and common areas, in order to meet the requirements of the Manutan Group, winner of the “Best Workplaces France” label. The layout of the roadway to the offices enhances one’s arrival the site: there are walkways, a treated water retention pond on landscaped grounds, a covered gallery and common entrance for the offices and warehouses located at the rear. The architects, XXL Atelier, also designed the building to have interior patios bathed in natural light. The ergonomics, the choice of materials, the treatment of façades, the landscaped areas, everything has been designed to highlight the building and warehouses.
Construction using Co Design&Build will ultimately enable the difference between the price agreed in the contract and actual costs on the basis of certified accounting to be shared.
OpenBox is growing and being restructured. Since April 2018, price studies, which had been partially outsourced until now, have been carried out internally by the newly created Design Department. We use the ATTIC + costing software.
“This software can set up an intelligent digital model and survey the measurements automatically as the project takes shape,” says Frédéric Lamblot, Head of Design.“ We can share our models with architects, clients and subcontractors, which improves efficiency. Moreover, internalising the price study enables us to be increasingly relevant in the responses we provide to our customers: technical details, options, resolution of inconsistencies, we review the project globally and transparently.“
In the process of being put in place following a first training session in September, this tool should be fully operational in early 2019.
Why did you choose OpenBox?
Our project was strategic: there were challenges involving time, business continuity, installation... We had already managed one property project, but we did not have all the resources needed to succeed by ourselves. OpenBox provided us with support at a very early stage. However, we also conducted a competitive bidding process in order to obtain the best proposal. Their experience and knowledge of the regional eco-system, their prices and their motivation made all the difference.
Regarding the project, they were available and ready to listen, they put forward the best solutions. Their obvious knowledge of logistics and its constraints is reassuring. What's more, it's a small, dynamic and innovative company. We were attracted by their way of working and their mindset. We are proud today to have helped them to grow.
How did the collaboration with the OpenBox teams go?
We never doubted their professionalism. They are experienced and know how to find the right people. They are also very attentive and have handles our requests, even the last-minute ones. They use a model that enables this to happen. We felt we were supported before, during and on delivery of the project. Despite the difficulties associated with their profession, I believe they always have the desire to satisfy their customers.
How did the delivery process go?
Delivery is always a delicate moment. We quickly realized that OpenBox shared, as we do, the desire to maintain a steady pace and to remove any reservations as quickly as possible. They remained highly available during the acceptance period and they resolved problems as they arose.
What does Co Design&Build mean for you?
We had to ask OpenBox to adapt their proposal, which they agreed to very quickly. They were very transparent, especially regarding costs over the entire project, and changes were far easier to manage.
OpenBox has also collaborated with numerous stakeholders with a great deal of integrity (three project management assistants, a developer and an investor).
Regarding the sharing of savings, as commonly happens with Co Design&Build, we preferred not to consider this alternative during the competitive bidding stage. We only addressed this proposal after selection. They agreed to pay €60,000 for renovations to our old platform. This is a kind of variation on the sharing of savings offered by Co Design&Build.
You have been in your new building for a few months now. Are you happy with it?
Everyone is happy with our new working environment. As part of the acquisition of Transports Charvin by BBL INVEST, it was a question of successfully accommodating four of the group’s companies at the same site and making people comfortable there. We wanted a high quality, well thought-out building: the choice of materials, the architecture, the services and the organisation of the building are all elements that have created a great logistics platform to work at!
Last July, OpenBox and DCB Logistics thanked the project’s partners and associates around a traditional ‘gigot-bitume’ [leg of lamb wrapped in kraft paper and cooked in molten bitumen].
This new 23,000 m² temperature-controlled warehouse (+15°C / +18°C), which was completed at the end of July, is dedicated to food product storage, order preparation, co-packing and transportation. 3 cells were built, a fourth remaining as a further extension. OpenBox’s expertise on this type of logistics platform enabled the challenges of this complex project to be addressed with all of the stakeholders. More information on the project.
Gilles Saubier, Groupe STEF, Dominique Berger, Vaulx-Milieu, Bertrand Chabanne, OpenBox, Didier Caudard-Breille, CEO DCB International, Jean-Marc Portanguen & Laurent SEVEN, DCB Logistics, Hugues Golzio, CEO BEG Ingénierie
Crédit photos: Groupe DCB International et Béatrice Bocquet
A look at the collaboration between OpenBox and GLD with Pascal Dominois, Director of Operations at GLD
Why did you choose OpenBox?
When consultation began at the beginning of 2016, it seemed to us that OpenBox, as a company, was too young and was not, therefore, a credible option for us. But OpenBox insisted on delivering an offer, they were extremely motivated!
For our part, we wanted to assess the proposal of the contractor with whom we were already working. We were surprised by the gap between both prices. The determination of the team, indeed its obligation to succeed in the operation, convinced us. We decided to trust them. And we have no regrets!
How would you describe your experience with Co Design&Build?
The Co Design&Build meetings were very reassuring and they enabled us to move forward with the project together as a whole. Reports on accounting, planning, costs, everything was reviewed each month. A completely different way of working. We were able to see that the OpenBox strategy didn’t involve margin recovery but was more concerned with information sharing and collaboration. When issues arose (which inevitably occur on such projects), they were discussed and resolved. Everything was done progressively as we moved forward, in a collaborative way. When you don’t discover things too late, you can’t suspect a hidden agenda. So tensions are quickly dissipated.
Given the highly competitive circumstances and the consensual efforts made during the negotiation, the “shared savings” at the end of the operation were limited, but the transparency was a reality that made the offer unique.
Objectively, this transparency and collaboration allowed us to conduct this operation in a relaxed and constructive way, until the snagging list was resolved. Throughout the entire project, we felt supported.
Are you satisfied?
Of course, because the timing and the price were kept in check and the building is consistent with what we wanted!
Our new 24,000 m² tool means we can work with large industrial clients, who are careful about the handling of their goods (like Rolls-Royce Civil Nuclear, Hager, etc.). We offer them tailored solutions for storage, procurement, industrial packaging and transportation.
Whatever the sector (pharmaceutical, food, energy, mass distribution), our expertise in logistics and our set-up are the hallmark of our reputation, but our warehouses are a definite advantage: now when we tour the warehouses with our clients, the design quality wins them over.
The building is also scalable, as demonstrated by the 25-tonne-capacity overhead travelling crane, which are already being installed for our industrial packing and handling operations for large volumes. We will therefore be able to offer integrated solutions under the same roof, in a high-end environment.
With more than 100,000 m² of logistics work in progress, OpenBox is diversifying into commercial buildings and the industrial sector. OpenBox has been awarded the contract to construct the new storage building for France Machines Outils, a specialist in new and used machine tools.
The France Machines Outils group is currently positioned as one of the major alternative solutions suppliers of equipement for sheet metal and mechanical engineering production. Established in 1987 in Vaulx-en-Velin, Lyon Machines Outils has decided to expand and move to Meyzieu to strengthen its operations in the Rhône-Alpes region. Construction is due to start in the summer of 2018 on the new premises, which will extend over 2300 m² and include a work area equipped with a 25-tonne bridge crane and 375 m² of offices/common areas.