EcoRéseau Business – Julia Cattin: From NGO to manufacturing industry

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

The end of his world revealed a great ability to dare and to bounce back

Julia Cattin business manager? Not even in a dream. Despite the family fiber with grandparents and entrepreneurial parents. She aimed more at NGOs and was preparing a master’s degree in macroeconomics in Milan. The death of her father, Roland Cattin, in 2014, when she was only 26, would profoundly change her plans. Faced with her “blank side”, she took over Momentum, the industrial group created by her father, and breathed new life into it. This is a masterful and not so rare rebound…

The challenge was simply enormous. When the new manager takes over the reins, she discovers that there is a security procedure underway, that Urssaf has handed over the company, and that one of the banks has already activated its guarantee. His father had actually developed two activities within Momentum: in 1986, with the support of Jean Beyl known for Look ski bindings, he launched Time Sport, a famous brand of racing bikes and automatic pedals adopted by champions such as Laurent Fignon, Greg Lemond, Miguel Indurain, as Tom Boonen and Julien Absalon. Also in 1986, he bought the Fimm company founded by the Alaux family and later, in the early 2000s, Manuvit, both specializing in the design and manufacture in France of handling equipment.

Boldness doesn’t always pay off

Fimm is developing well, but its “cycling” business is experiencing derailments. After some big wins that made Time a recognized brand in the cycling world, the brand in turn encountered difficulties, especially in its carbon frame manufacturing. In the late 1980s, most manufacturers relied on carbon produced in Asia. Roland Cattin, who beats, continues his activity in France. Timeframes use state-of-the-art technology, Resin Transfer Molding known as RTM, which is opposed to prepreg technology, details for connoisseurs. But overly expensive technology that caters to a niche market deprives the company of sponsorships from competing teams. Yet it was this presence that had helped make the brand so famous.

Assume everything, then reinvent everything

However, his family, starting with his daughter, has no idea of ​​the difficulties that Roland Cattin is going through. Like many SME managers, he keeps quiet “so as not to bother his relatives with all that”. He had not yet prepared his succession. His wife was involved in her own entrepreneurial activity in retail, and his two daughters had chosen other paths for their studies and their professional futures (macroeconomics for Julia, art for her sister). Roland Cattin succumbs to a heart attack probably related to his fight. The time for the inspection has come.

Julia Cattin decides during the night to take up the torch. And his first steps in entrepreneurship will prove to be both violent and formative. First, you need to reassure the employees, delve into the financial documents and the balance sheet, go to the group’s sites: Île-de-France, Rhône-Alpes, Normandy, Bourgogne Franche-Comté but also in Slovakia and the United States, where Time Sport is established. She relies on members of the management team close to her father and on her uncle, a former business executive.

But the company without more cash, it is necessary to sell Time Sport, only solution to avoid recovery and liquidation. Julia fights for the debt to be taken over, at least partially. She learns to rub shoulders with and work with court administrators, lawyers, tax authorities… Rossignol finally bought the brand in 2016.

“Contrary to what you might imagine, you enter a new space when you hit rock bottom. Having nothing to lose frees us from our fears and everything becomes possible, we feel free. »

A blank page to express cheekiness

At the same time, the new boss is investing heavily in Fimm to maintain activity. It is supported by Bpifrance as part of its “SME accelerator” program in Bourgogne Franche-Comté. Today, confidence has been restored, the group is doing quite well, and Julia Cattin is preparing her development plans for the future.

This dive straight into the deep end has hardened the heir. She discovered that she knew how to dare. “Contrary to what you might imagine, you enter a new space when you hit rock bottom. Having nothing to lose frees us from our fears and everything becomes possible, we feel free. »

What does she remember eight years later? That she has to put herself in danger to express her audacity. She is of course still wary, but the vagaries of entrepreneurship do not scare her at all. After all, Julia went through what many entrepreneurs fear before she even got started – and she came through it particularly well.

It’s time for her to share her feedback. Connected with her peers, including via Rebondisseurs Français, she foresees possible next upheavals. The outbreak of war in Ukraine and uncertainty about health show that the risk arises at any time without any possible preparation. The important thing is to keep daring and return if the situation calls for it.

Claire Flynn

What Les Rebondisseurs Français say about it: Econetwork Business partner association

In all modesty, Julia Cattin, who had not thought of herself as a business leader, expresses her full dimension at the head of Momentum, which is also in a sector with little femininity. She is one of the precious role models who show the potential of entrepreneurship for women and the value created by the recovery.

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