TOPSEC CELEBRATES 20 YEARS: BEHIND THE SCENES OF OUR SUCCESS
THIS YEAR TOPSEC CELEBRATES 20 YEARS OF SUCCESS!
On the occasion of Topsec’s 20th anniversary, we dedicated this article to the revelation behind the scenes of the development of our company. A great opportunity to get to know us better, but above all to understand the foundations of Topsec, our pillars, our evolution and to learn more about our President Thierry Alimondo.
AT THE ORIGIN OF OUR CONCEPT
In reality Thierry Alimondo was strongly inspired by his father Guy Alimondo. With a similar course, he was also in the French Water-Polo team but also gold medalist in youth and sports and officer of the National Order of Merit as leader and sports educator.
He then became director of swimming pools for more than fifty years and president of sports associations in the late nineties he was one of the first to introduce the mandatory bathing caps in his pool. At that time the cashiers sold them directly at the entrance to troubleshooting to serve the users.
Then the town halls decided to ban these direct sales. Then Guy asked to a friend who was the manager of the pool confectionery vending machines to put caps in because they could no longer sell them.
“Success was immediate!” Explains Thierry
With the increasingly strict hygiene rules and the equipment requirements for swimmers, Thierry has thus detected a potential market and decided to extend the offer in distributors to other products such as pool goggles, swimsuits and accessories in order to create a real small automated store meeting all the immediate needs in the practice facilities.
To develop his concept, he simply wondered how he could make help the users, what their needs were and when the purchase would be done.
“In the beginning it was only my father and I who believed in it,” he says
THE VENDING MACHINES PROJECT, DIFFERENTS STEPS
At this period, Thierry was a salesman in a company of Chlorine, an American multinational. To launch this project, he teamed up with a friend who was in the ready-to-wear sector and was able to contribute financially to the launch.
“We started in 20m2, bought glasses and beanies, packed them in clear bags with scotch and put them in the dispensers.” Tells Thierry
The first step was a testing period with the purchase of three used vending machines, to install them in the pools of some of their contacts in the Paris region.
“I remember putting them on a Tuesday in early July and in five days the machines were emptied! Already at this time in the machines everything was black and there was no design. Despite the lack of attractiveness and clarity of our machines, customers bought!” He remembers
For the second stage of validation of the test, the President of the Association ANDIISS (Association National des Directeurs et Intervenants d’Installations et des Services des Sport), who regularly held regional meetings with a hundred of sports directors, allowed Thierry to expose his vending machine.
“When there was the first break at 10am, the door opened and I saw a horde of people arrive! And then the town halls told me that this is what they needed!” He reminds
Beyond this innovative concept, Thierry is aware that timing played an important role in the launch of his company.
“I launched the machines at the right time, when all the town halls had put or were starting to put hygiene rules (Swimming caps and suits mandatory) in place and banned the sale at the cash register, but no longer knew how to offer an alternative.” He admits.
Thus Topsec signed up the first contract with the City of Paris more than ninetine years ago, which allowed to deploy the vending machines in thirty-seven swimming pools at once! This contract has just been renewed. Then came the City of Marseille, giving access to twenty-two swimming pools.
Finally, the development took place starting with several cities in the Ile de France and spreading throughout the country.
The main challenges
“The hardest part was not signing but delivering and exploiting them!” Thierry confides
Despite this success, it was necessary to convince the banks to find the financing and buy enough vending machines.
“I made a dozen and I was going to give up.”
But on the last appointment, luckily, the director of the agency immediately made the link with her own needs since that confront the problem by going to the pool and understood the interest of these machines.
Thierry also mentioned that initially being alone, with few financial means were difficult. Similarly, as with every entrepreneur, there was a lot of stress and pressure from every decision with the debts and personal bonds that this involved.
Today he has realized that the success of our company is also due to his work, his knowledge of the field and his team. Its priorities have always been focused on the development and quality of service rendered.
“There is never any chance in success there is always an idea, a lot of work, commitment and risk-taking. These are years of hard work and sacrifice. ” He confides
A CAREER INFLUENCED BY HIGH-LEVEL SPORT
“High-level sport has helped me a lot to work towards a goal, not to give up anything but above all to achieve it. It also taught me not to repeat the same mistake twice.” Explains Thierry
With a strong personality and twice selected at the Olympic Games, Thierry Alimondo was very quickly captain of his Water-polo team and the ability to train others in his projects.
He always wanted to create his company because it was also his way of proving that as a self-taught, he had the ability to succeed somewhere else than in sport. It also retains this constant desire to meet new challenges and renew itself.
THE EVOLUTION OF THE TEAM
The Topsec team grew as contracts were signed to adapt to demand and satisfy our customers. It now represents more than sixty employees in France, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Switzerland.
This success, Thierry is aware that he owes it to his teams with whom he has evolved over the years and built solid foundations.
“The team was built with ups and downs, but overall everyone brought theirown work to the building.” He explains
Currently in a technological shift, our team has also restructured to adapt to the needs of the market and conquer new sectors. The repositioning and arrival of new employees allows Topsec to project itself for the next ten years in a new dynamic of energy and skills.
Today Thierry Alimondo sees himself more as the “guardian” of Topsec and ensures that the company keeps its DNA, values and vision.
TOPSEC, AWARDED SEVERAL TIMES
In 2015, in the Netherlands, the CCI France Netherlands recognized Topsec as the French company, coming to this market, having the most potential for success. Thierry Alimondo won the ““Jeune Pousse” award.
In addition, this year, and for the second year in a row, Topsec has been recognized as a company with high international development potential by BPI France.
Recently our subsidiary Topsec Nederland (Benelux), founded in 2014, also received an award from the European magazine affiliated with the “EU Business News” Topsec award Commission as the most original and promising company in future sports equipment purchasing routes.
THE EVOLUTION OF TOPSEC, NEW PERSPECTIVES
Our company is now present in nearly two thousand swimming pools in Europe. We have also diversified by offering our vending machines in ice rinks since 2011 and are starting to explore new areas.
Similarly, our service expanded in 2013 with the opening of corners shop in swimming pools where we became the leader in France.
Then in 2017 with the first Concept Store Swind at The Nature Village in Paris, close to Disney.
These new concepts aim to offer more technical products and adapted to a different and specific category of customers.
Finally, we will be launching soon a pre-order website for the customization of swimming caps that communities, private organizations or partners can adapt them to their events and teams.
In addition to our international deployment, 98% of our contracts are renewed each year, reflecting the need for our service and products in swimming pools. It also demonstrates the long-term and close relationship we have with our customers.
Finally, we would like to thank all of our partners, public institutions,local collectivities, private equipment managers and business partners who have trusted us all these years and have highly contributed to our development.
Topsec celebrates its 20th anniversary and has great prospects in France and abroad!