Leonardo da Vinci Award Ceremony

The sun shone on this Friday, October 29th 2021 to welcome the “Henokiens” – including Revol – to our factory in Saint-Uze. This visit was part of a busy program happening in Lyon, to celebrate the “Henokiens” Annual General Meeting scheduled at that time.

The highlight of this program was the presentation of the Leonardo da Vinci prize to Thierry de La Tour d’Artaise, CEO of the Seb group at the InterContinental Lyon at the Hôtel-Dieu, in the presence of Michel Barnier and Patrick Martin Deputy Chairman of the MEDEF. This prize, awarded by the Henokiens and Château Clos Lucé association, rewards a family business for its values of transmission and innovation, dynamic and sustainable growth. It was presented when a new global innovation center had just been inaugurated on the campus of the group’s head office in Ecully. These are six centers of excellence rolled out over 5000m2 which required 12.5 million euros of investment.

The day after this prize was awarded, the Passot family and our employees welcomed 70 Henokiens to Saint-Uze, i.e. representatives of more than twenty bicentennial and family businesses, like us, for a visit to the factory. The visit was followed by lunch. It is always a pleasure to meet again, especially after a year of lockdown and pandemic crisis. 

What does “Hénokien” mean ?

Being a member of the Henokiens association has great meaning for us. It means being part of a family, founded more than thirty years ago, which brings together 51 companies in Europe and Japan. Each company was created more than two hundred years ago and each of them is still run by the same family for the most part. The fields of activity are very diverse and sometimes surprising! From jewelry, banking, cutlery, food products, wine, liquors, fabrics, hunting weapons, barrels, the automotive industry, and so on… our stories are both distinct and at the same time common. Coming from Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Austria, the United Kingdom or Japan, our family stories are intrinsically intertwined with the stories of our companies.

Each of the generations has lived with the times, while trying to be avant-garde and placing innovation at the heart of its strategy and very often of its sustainability.

Research on family businesses

Rania Labaki, researcher and director of the EDHEC center on family businesses also honored us with her presence. In terms of innovation, Rania’s studies find that family businesses have a very committed shareholder base and conduct very innovative approaches and demonstrate a strong ability to adapt to change. We humbly recognize ourselves in this desire to constantly reinvent ourselves and to prove our ability to react to major events such as an economic, social or even family crisis, or even a war or a health crisis. According to Rania, statistics show that after the third generation, only 10% of family businesses remain and 2% survive in the fourth and fifth generation.

The members of the Henokiens association are therefore exceptions and companies that have been able to overcome crises. We measure the privilege we have, and measure the journey made over all these years.

Our factory full of history

A visit to the factory reminds us of this two-centuries old history. It starts in the “cellars” of the factory, which house all the physical “archives” of Revol. A long-term work of cataloging molds and parts allows us to reconstruct through the years the industrial history of our factory founded in 1768. There are thus porcelain objects reflecting fashions, trends and uses of each of the eras that our company has gone through. Two former Revol employees, the two Claudes now retired, have taken a passion for this exceptional story and for almost 10 years have been working discreetly in the secrecy of our more than two-hundred-year-old cellars to carry out a colossal but essential work of memory, which consists in dating, identifying, photographing, inventorying and protecting each of the 25,000 old pieces and thousands of paper archives currently in our possession.

The story of Revol has been going on for 253 years already and it will not stop there. It seems essential to us to be able to transmit an “accessible” and “understandable” history to the following generations so that they can bring it to life, pass it on and share it in turn.

The journey through the factory

We then invited our visitors for the day to tour the factory. It began with a panel that summarizes the manufacturing process in chronological order. Then we continue with the modelling, to then go to the various casting, enameling, finishing, firing, sorting and decorating workshops. Amazed, our guests were very curious. The questions flowed. Especially those related to the environment. Regarding all the efforts we have been making for many years to limit our water and energy consumption and to recycle our pastes, enamels and plasters, not to mention the water that we treat in the station to make it perfectly clean for nature.

Once this operation has been carried out, we are left with the mineral matter in the form of sludge. Sludge that we have found a way to stabilize to make a new recycled ceramic paste called Recyclay. This invention is also the subject of a patent and positions Revol as a pioneer in the world of ceramic tableware. From this initiative was born the No.W (No Waste) collection in 2020, which is beginning to meet with great success on the tableware market. An innovation like no other that we are very proud to present. After the obligatory passage in front of one of our two knilts, our Hénokiens guests finished their visit in the showroom in order to admire the finished pieces.

What to remember from this day?

What will our guests remember from this visit ? “We didn’t think it would be so big!” some say. Others were impressed with the number of steps that go into making a single cup. Some did not think that our molds had a limited lifespan, or that many finishes were done by hand. Inspiration, wonder, business ideas… no one left this visit indifferent. And neither do we!

Thank you again to all these women and men, in love with transmission within their companies, who for a morning immersed themselves in our world, our values and our history.

Olivier Passot – PDG Revol Porcelaine