“On Track to Accelerate Mobility Transition on Roads“
With his expertise in strategic development and execution, Florent Herson is driven to shape safe, sustainable, advanced and customised mobility for his automotive supply Group.
After obtaining his Master’s Degree in Plastic Processing, Florent Herson wasn’t setting his sights on the automotive industry. However, as fate would have it, he was offered a job at Faurecia ─ an international automotive parts manufacturer and supplier in France ─ and there he stayed, managing over its many projects, fields and positions for the next 20 years.
Alongside the company’s growth and his own career progression, Florent Herson is today the Asia Pacific Vice President of FORVIA Faurecia ASEAN Group.
When FORVIA was formed
On January 31, 2022, Faurecia became FORVIA ─ a new Group name following Faurecia’s successful acquisition of a controlling stake in HELLA. Combined in industrial strength, technologies, vision and goals, FORVIA became the world’s seventh largest automotive technology company for OEMs and represents 150,000 employees across more than 40 countries.
“One in two vehicles in the world is equipped by FORVIA today,” says Florent with pride. “In ASEAN, we produce parts for Ford, Nissan, VinFast, Mitsubishi, Isuzu, Mercedes Benz, Great Wall and others.”
As FORVIA’s pillars are about safety, sustainability, advanced solutions and customised experiences, its stand-out feature lies in its innovation. “For example,” he explains, “such as the ones that achieve CO₂ reduction using new sustainable materials and depollution systems and also innovative production processes, together with automation which provides Total Customer Satisfaction at competitive prices.”
Automotive supply is an extremely competitive industry, avers Florent, and while the group is a world leader, it still competes with both global and local players.
“You must be agile and reactive to grow,” he says. “The industry is transforming at a rapid speed, and it requires adaptation and a unified team to tackle the challenges that come with it.”
That is why, he stresses, “Being dynamic, being part of the team, and involving them from the beginning into the vision definition is so important.”
Being FORVIA, the company is now composed of six business groups with 24 product lines in six activities including seating, interiors, clean mobility, electronics, lighting and lifecycle solutions.
“Trends and demands change at a fast pace, so we must constantly be improving our products,” he says. “In FORVIA, climate change is at the heart of our strategy. We are fully committed to being carbon neutral for scopes 1 and 2 by 2025 and we are investing in building a dedicated Sustainable Materials R&D centre to propose products to achieve this.”
Entry into Thailand
Long before FORVIA came to be, however, when the company was looking to expand its presence in Asia back in 2011, Florent was moved to Thailand to set up a plant. He had no team or employees at the time but he managed to put together the first Faurecia Interior plant from scratch in less than six months and succeeded in delivering their first parts to support the new launch of a very important customer ─ Ford.
This first success begot the next and over the years the ASEAN arm continued to grow in breadth and depth, achieving a business turnover of more than €100 million for Faurecia Interiors in the country.
Another achievement of Florent’s was in 2013 when he created a Joint Venture with the Summit group from Thailand. In the beginning, the integration between a Thai family management style with an international European company required patience, explanation and demonstration of the benefits of transformation before they could create a solid foundation of mutual trust. But persistence paid off and Faurecia and Summit Interior Systems Thailand Co Ltd was established. Not only that, he managed to turnaround the integrated plant into a Best in Class One.
In 2016, a decision was made to vertically integrate core technologies of Faurecia Interior to improve the quality and cost as well as reduce CO₂ footprint. It resulted in an increase of the net profit by six times from 2015 to 2019.
In 2018, Florent acquired the first two interiors of Vietnam’s VinFast group. At the end of 2017, the carmaker had decided to launch their new automotive brand within 24 months. “We had an extremely short development time of 18 months to accomplish this,” recalls Florent, adding that no one from the local teams up to the Head of the group believed it could be done.
“But thanks to a great collaboration between the VinFast Chairwoman, VinFast CEO and the management team of Faurecia Interior ASEAN, we were able to design a way of working and a financial structure that made it happen. A team of 13 nationalities was built and the two car model interiors entered into mass production in less than 18 months ─ faster than any other car makers and suppliers in the world. It boosted our team spirit of ‘YES WE CAN’ and resulted in the creation of the first Faurecia subsidiary in Vietnam in 2019.”
Finally, in 2020, during the Covid 19 crisis, Florent and his management team consolidated all FORVIA-Faurecia ASEAN business groups under one leadership allowing for better resilience and agility. This consolidation succeeded in delivering exceptional financial results in 2020 and 2021 and it also boosted the integration of the Japanese company Clarion into the FORVIA Faurecia world.
“With his innate ability to see and seize business opportunities and know-how on structuring and industrialising them, Florent Herson’s dynamic and ambitious leadership has been able to successfully build and galvanise teams to achieve unprecedented goals and charter new ground to meet the world class standards for his mobility-inspiring company.”
Shanggari Balakrishnan, Chief Executive Officer, MORS Group