History

A SUBCONTRACTING ASSOCIATION CREATED BY SUBCONTRACTORS, FOR SUBCONTRACTORS

In the 1970s, decentralised contractors were still largely unaware of the potential, capability and competitiveness Basse-Normandie subcontracting could offer. Their purchasing departments, which had not been fully decentralised, tended to continue to source their subcontractors from Paris or other regions.
Aware of this, subcontractors in Basse-Normandie soon realised that lasting and profitable solutions for all would not be reached through isolated initiatives, and that only long-term collaborative efforts would give subcontracting in Basse-Normandie the means to move forward.

APRIL 1972: SOTRABAN IS BORN

After months of preparation, it was decided that Sotraban would be created as a non-profit organisation, pursuant to the 1901 French law on associations (Association Loi 1901). It would be a collectively-run association with the specific aims of:

  • enhancing communication between its members as well as parties outside the group
  • training its members, who are often self-taught business managers with the need to improve their skills in sales and management
  • promoting subcontracting in Basse-Normandie, enabling it not only to consolidate its success in its own region, but also boosting its profile in other regions and abroad
  • by extension, boosting the Basse-Normandie brand image and its industrial capabilities by supporting the development of small and medium-sized regional industrial manufacturers

SOTRABAN IS MORE THAN JUST A DIRECTORY OF SUBCONTRACTORS OR A TRADE UNION

Basse-Normandie subcontractors' association was set up in 1972 in response to the need to break the isolation of many small and medium-sized industrial subcontractors, rather than as a way of institutionalising or laying claim to the regional subcontracting market.

Sotraban is a place to meet, reflect, and exchange ideas. It operates in a spirit of dialogue and consultation, and is the preferred contact in its field for commercial partners and public authorities.

Ongoing exchange of work and ideas encourages the circulation of information, while also establishing a subcontracting mindset within the association, the first step towards co-contracting entire teams.

Exchanging experiences and technical knowledge also contributes to peer-to-peer training of business managers. Training within the association has also taken the form of sessions or seminars led by specialists in management, sales techniques, banking, ERP, legislation, etc.

PROMOTING THE EXPERTISE OF SUBCONTRACTORS IN BASSE-NORMANDIE

Since it was set up, Sotraban has focused on promoting the growing number of reliable, competitive subcontractors available in Basse-Normandie.

Improving communication with contractors means working with them to develop understanding. Sotraban made this one of its key aims in order to help to transform attitudes over time, whereby contractors and operators start to become partners respectful of each other’s difficulties.

In the region, these contacts are made at subcontracting trade shows, such as in Caen in 1972, or simply at subcontracting workshops, as in 1973 at the Alençon trade fair, or even at professional events such as the technical workshops organised by Sotraban in 1980 and 1981.

The key objective of this programme of sectoral meetings held in various localities across the region is to bring together businesses, subcontractors and contractors so that they can learn more about the technical capacities of the businesses in Basse-Normandie and the technologies used in the sector.
Beyond the Basse-Normandie region, industry events such as MIDEST increasingly act as support for Sotraban’s work.

BRINGING BASSE-NORMANDIE SUBCONTRACTING TO NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL MARKETS AND BOOSTING THE COMMERCIAL CAPACITY OF SUBCONTRACTING FIRMS

In 1974, Sotraban was an exhibitor at MIDEST in Lille for the first time and has represented Basse-Normandie at the annual show ever since, along with around twenty of its members. Sotraban has been a regular participant at this show: in Nantes in 1975, Lausanne in 1976, Strasbourg in 1977 and 1982, Brussels in 1978, Toulouse in 1979, Lyons in 1981, 1984, 1986, 1988, Paris in 1980, 1983, 1985, 1987 and 1989, and subsequently at the Paris Nord Villepinte exhibition centre.

Sotraban does so much more than participate in trade events in France. MIDEST was held in Lausanne in 1976 and in Brussels in 1979, and Sotraban also looks towards foreign markets.

In 1975, Sotraban members began taking part in events in the UK and Belgium. In 1977, Sotraban attended a trade show in Sweden, and subsequently in Germany. In 1978 and 1979, it returned to Belgium for two trade events.

In 1980 and 1981 it was the VAT show that supported the work of the Basse-Normandie region in the Netherlands and in Germany.

This was followed by targeted work in Germany and the UK:

- 1985: the Hannover trade fair
- 1986 and 1990: SUBCON in Birmingham

As the organisation representing subcontracting in Basse-Normandie, Sotraban was a natural choice as partner of the PMME pilot operation launched in the region in 1976 by the then French Minister for Industry, Mr Michel d'Ornano.

Of all the pilot projects set up and implemented by Sotraban, this was a truly original experiment aimed at developing businesses’ commercial capacity through a collective approach to subcontracting markets.

This project came to fruition in spring 1977 with the recruitment of an executive tasked with researching market prospects and putting contractors from outside the region in contact with subcontractors in Basse-Normandie who could offer solutions for their needs.

TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT

The 1980s saw Sotraban’s members make numerous requests for information and training on niche subjects.
In response, the association set up several technical workshops with specialist consultants in fields as diverse as:

  • the subcontracting contract
  • the Single European Act
  • ERP
  • ROI
  • standardisation/standards/AFNOR (French industrial standards authority)

Group internships were also offered to members of the Association on sales, communication and business techniques (Process Communication Management).
In order to bring each person’s role in the association up to date, as well as to enhance communication between members, Sotraban prepared a charter. This charter, signed by its members, has set the rules governing the association’s day-to-day operations since 1990.

CONTINUALLY STRIVING FOR QUALITY

Quality remains one of Sotraban’s key objectives in the face of the ever-changing economic climate, in which subcontractors need to adapt in order to grow and survive. On the eve of the European single market and over the course of nearly a year, Sotraban coordinated a group of regional industrial manufacturers who had decided to obtain ISO 9000 certification for their business.

This work involved audits, training seminars, and the implementation of infrastructure and business processes. It was not expected to be a quick process, and it wasn't until towards the end of 1993 that the first AFAQ (French quality assurance association) certificates were issued to the group. Meanwhile, individual initiatives would lead ten other members of the association towards the same quality objective. Thus, industrial manufacturers in the region would be better placed to secure new markets and withstand increasingly tough competition.