At France ELEVATEUR, we don’t forget where we came from nor, as Churchill said, the blood, sweat and tears required to handle the incredible technology that exists today. The history of France ELEVATEUR cannot be dissociated from that of the men and women who have innovated. Without these inventions, we would never have had the elevators we know today. The history of Jean Michel Bouyer is intimately and subtly linked to ours. Investigation, maintenance and rewinding.
The Bouyer adventure begins more than a century ago, in the 1900s with Félix Bouyer, a hard-working and inventive blacksmith. In Saint-Nazaire, while making agricultural tools (scythes, shovels, axes) by hand, Félix enjoyed inventing, designing and manufacturing accessories in series.
It was a good time: in the midst of an industrial boom, many new inventions were rapidly being developed. The atmosphere is conducive to the development of imagination of any creative of the time and to the most eccentric achievements. Enough to develop the industrial agricultural sector. It is under this fruitful aura that Henri BouyernFélix’s son, is growing up. He was then part of the famous Stork Squadron during the First World War, as a mechanic sergeant. Henri is in charge of exceptional aircraft engines. His post-war marriage represents the alliance of the Loire and the Vosges. Lorraine will finally supplant his Nazairean origins.
His father’s capacity for mechanical inventiveness and technical-creative spirit runs in his blood. In 1926, with his brother-in-law, Henri Ferry, he founded a general mechanical engineering company. It designs and manufactures machine tools. It is in 1929 that the Bouyer company is born, in Tomblaine. A company from Lorraine, as announced. The company designs and manufactures power tillers, lawn mowers and agricultural tools. For consumers, buying one of their tools is simply buying a “bouyer”, like buying scotch or a fridge.
While the motorized machines scattered the dreams of the industrialists of the time, Henri implements the design of an invention of his father, the retroforce, an agricultural machine with manual traction. He ends up motorizing it and the retroforce becomes the 1st Bouyer tiller, a single-wheeled machine with a body engine, which was later equipped with two wheels, improved and lightened. Henri Bouyer continues to supervise the field tests.
Before the basket, the ladder!
The Gugumus brothers are church watchmakers in Strasbourg. In this duo, one of the brothers is the fire chief, a vocation that will define their entire adventure in the field of ladders and lifting equipment.
In Nancy, in 1874, the Gugumus created a company to manufacture fire ladders for the firemen. The brothers, like the Bouyer family, do not lack ingenuity. They were then successful thanks to their mechanical engineering, for the design of aerial ladders close to those we find today. Moreover, the name of the brothers has no secret for the firemen, even today. The ladders are usually stamped Gugumus.
The Gugumus ladder of 19 m, it is the first ladder of this size that does not take up much space. Its handling does not require a lot of manpower. Ce génie a ainsi permis de développer a technology still in use today, which still allows the operation of towable or portable ladders!
Then comes the Rosalie. Ah, the Rosalie! A name so sweet and elegant carried by the 19 m ladder mounted on the chassis of trucks, an emblem for fire trucks. The Gugumus brand is a guarantee of quality. The hyper-qualitative material has on the other hand a “heavy” disadvantage; it is too heavy (a Gugumus pump is made of copper, bronze, cast iron; its handling requiring about ten men!)
Even if the company diversifies into equipment and accessories for firefighters, under the impetus of Charton and Colin, their core business will be ladders. Those of 24 m are, once again, still used today.
When in 1978, Bouyer took over the Gugumus-Charton company, the manufacturer diversified his activity in a logical continuity:the elevation of personnel. Thanks to the association between two innovative companies in both technology and ingenuity, Jean Michel Bouyer can create the first lift elevator on 3,5 tons van.
The ALBATROS 12 m on Citroën C35 carrier, a revolution in the lifting equipment sector! Versatile (on
van or chassis-cab), it retains the full interior volume of the van. A unique feature made possible by thetubular frame, an invention of, drum roll, Jean Michel Bouyer. The power comes from a hydraulic pump or an auxiliary motor. The machine is extremely safe: locking, double control panels, emergency stop, contactors blocking risky positions…
This ingenious device is in the continuity of the technical, ambitious and daring spirit found in the France ELEVATEUR production.
France ELEVATEUR would not exist without the men honored in this article. It is important for us to celebrate the past. Let’s never forget who are the people behindmany technologies that have either allowed us to get to where we are today, or that are still in use, due to their unparalleled practicality and modernity. On the occasion of an interview with Jean Michel Bouyer, the third generation of the Bouyer company, we fulfilled our duty of memory, at our scale (excuse the involuntary pun).
Stories, men, creative genius, an ambition of constant innovation, this is what brings together Bouyer, Gugumus and France ELEVATEUR.