Could the agri-food sector be the future for STS, an aerospace subcontractor based in Aveyron? The disability-friendly company, which specialises in cutting and converting flexible materials, is looking to diversify.
“We may be small in the aerospace industry, but we created quite the buzz at Le Bourget in June 2017,” recalls a delighted Stephan Mazars, the president of Société Technic’Services (STS) Groupe, a holding company with two Aveyron companies, one at Decazeville and the other at Capdenac. Alongside the chef and managing director of Carival, Fabrice Carrier, the company unveiled the first prototype of the machine for making, as its name suggests, the potato-based cheese fondue, aligot. There’s no muscle strength required, as the machine draws its power from a motor and aerospace expertise.
And it’s a recipe for success. “We worked with a research department at Castres to develop this machine,” explains the boss, who manufactures the joints and the paddles in food-grade silicone to stir the potatoes, Tome Fraîche cheese and cream.
This innovative piece of technology is capable of providing consumers with a 250g portion of aligot, taking it from frozen to a suitable temperature of 74 degrees in under a minute. Eleven machines have been produced and 200 preorders registered. To meet this demand, the disability-friendly company, where 80% of employees live with a disability, is setting up a production line this year to assemble parts.
2.5 million euros invested over three years
Whether in the agri-food, paramedical or boating sectors, STS Groupe is focused on diversifying its reach so that it no longer relies on aerospace or its main client, Ratier Figeac. Specialising in cabling, fitting and assembling parts produced on a small and medium scale, 50% of the company’s turnover (9.5 million euros in 2017) comes from cutting and converting flexible materials (carbon, fibreglass, kevlar).
The subcontractor to Airbus employs 148 people, 110 of which are at Decazville, and cuts, paints and glazes the blades of the A400M, the European aircraft manufacturer’s military aeroplane. “It’s our main source of work, but orders are decreasing. We have decided to diversify by seeking out new markets to provide stability and sustainability to the company,” the president explains. He took over the family company, which was founded in 1988 by his dad Michel Mazars on the site of the former steelworks in Decazville.
To support this strategic decision, STS will inject 2.5 million euros over three years into four or five machines (including a 2D knitting machine and a curing press with heating platen) and into four production lines which began operating at the end of 2018.