I want to talk about Madame Annette Beneteau Roux. This is one classy and intelligent lady.
Mdme Beneteau-Roux, “The First Lady of Yachting”, has been running one of the largest shipbuilding companies in the world since 1964. Her grandfather, Benjamin Beneteau, started building artisan fishing boats back in 1884 in the little fishing village of Croix-de-Vie in the Vendee region of France.
Mr Beneteau truly loved innovation: he introduced a motorized sardine-fishing boat back in 1910. His son eventually took over the business and produced some truly beautiful fishing boats, but by the 1960s the fishing trade was declining and the company was in trouble.
Enter young Annette Benetau.
Like the Warrior Princesses I love so much, Miss Annette Beneteau (later married to Roux), decided that she was NOT going to simply stand idly by while her family’s business faded away. So she decided right there and then that she would join the business (for better or for worse) and try to save it. And she jumped right in with both feet.
The first thing she did was participate in the 1964 Paris Boat Show, where she began to tap into the growing industry of sport and leisure fishing. Little by little, the Beneteau boat designs changed and by the next boat show her company’s leisure fiberglass boats became a hit. The rest, as they say, is history.
Under Madame Beneteau-Roux’s leadership, Beneteau Groupe has become one of the largest companies in the world. I mean, they are HUGE. They have 5 factories in France and one in the United States, along with countless divisions. The American factory alone has “doubled in size to about 250,000 square feet (23,000 m2), with roughly 25 million of total capital invested in the US. This is considered to be an advanced marine factory; it is newer than most of its competitors factories” (Wikipedia).
All in all, Madame Beneteau-Roux demonstrates what a woman can do even in a male-dominated industry and in a time when it wasn’t that common for women to take the reigns. Madame has recently stepped back a little from the forefront, but she is still in active leadership and oversees operations. She truly is an inspiration to me.
If you’d like to read more about Madame Beneteau-Roux, here are a few links of interest.
Yachts Magazine article released in 2012, when the Madame won the first AIM Marine Group Editor’s Choice Lifetime Achievement Award. There is a good interview here.
Transcript from an NPR feature on Beneteau and the grand dame of yachting’s part in it.
Beneteau’s official timeline. This link goes directly to the year Madame Beneteau took over.
Another cover of the award presented to Madame Beneteau for her achievements in the world of yacht and boat building.
Shareholder information stuff, if you are into that. Even if you aren’t the growth of their shares is pretty impressive.