In a new addition to gasworld magazine, take ten minutes out to catch-up with the VRV Group's Global Sales & Marketing Director, Michael Blondin.

Blondin has been busy travelling in recent weeks, traversing the globe for both business and pleasure. Here, he also reveals the allure of working for Italy-based VRV Group, the single biggest threat to the cryogenic equipment business in his view, the double-edged growth opportunities ahead, and more.

Join us as we take time out to see what's happening with Blondin, as he travelled from Italy to Taiwan, on to India, and to the US.

Thanks for taking 10 minutes out with gasworld. What have we interrupted in your schedule today?
Today, actually, I’m on the plane between Jakarta and Chennai on the way to our plant in India to help support our teams with the consolidation of our operations in Asia and the introduction of our products to new markets and new customers.

What’s the best thing about working for VRV?
In one word, ‘opportunities’. Since I joined VRV a little less than six months ago, after 15 years at another well-known manufacturer, I feel like I’ve stepped onto a bullet train.

There are several things that come to mind, but if I had to choose one thing in particular I would have to say VRV’s passionate, long-term approach. The strong involvement, support, and ambition of the management rubs off on people at VRV to do their work with passion and dedication – and take on new opportunities.

This approach is having a positive impact on the motivation of the organisation, and is necessary considering that VRV is simultaneously active on several fronts; whether expanding in one geography, consolidating in another, setting-up in yet another, or launching new products like our new generation of conical optimised trailer with the lowest centre of gravity in the market.

What was the last stamp in your passport?
I’ve actually been on the road now for nearly two weeks and have one more to go. After a week at our HQ in Italy, I went directly to Taiwan, then Jakarta, and I’m on my way to our factory in India right now. Next week I’ll be in the US for business, and then some holidays.

What’s the single biggest threat to the cryogenic equipment business, in your view?
The commoditisation of storage and distribution equipment. For manufacturers, it’s a threat because measures like reverse auctions reduce the selection criteria to price and give lesser consideration to innovation, know how, quality and life cycle costs.

For gas companies commoditising this equipment, it is potentially a threat as it pushes manufacturers to concentrate on cost reduction – which may come at the expense of innovation and other criteria if not perceived to add value. In the worst case scenario, it can potentially decrease competition by triggering consolidation in the industry.

That’s why it’s important for manufacturers to differentiate themselves by providing competitive, quality products and added-value services as close as possible to the markets they serve, combined with the flexibility necessary to meet customer demands.

What’s the single most exciting thing?
Double-edged growth, combined with the opportunities that I mentioned. With industrial growth back on track in the markets we serve, VRV is reaping a double benefit; organic growth related to the growth of our customers and market share growth in line with our worldwide strategy. This makes for exciting times for VRV.

Who or what has been your biggest influence in your [gas] career to date?
Interesting question. If I had to choose who, two key figures from my past come to mind, both my ex-bosses now currently working on the engineering side of Air Liquide.

They both led by example, put the customer first, and were very hands-on, with day-to-day involvement in the business, the products, and the markets – all values that have influenced me in my career and that have led me not to accept the status quo.

If I had to choose a what, it would surely be seeing how fast a competitive market situation can be transformed by quick decision making, the right products at the right price, and customer orientation. That is why I joined VRV.

What’s next? What’s the main project you’re working on right now?
Like I said, at VRV we are on a lot of fronts right now, but if I had to choose the one project then it would be putting together our plan for making our new operations at VRV Brazil a success from the word start.