Edouard Michelin (1859-1940)
“It is necessary to break the stone to find the hidden diamond inside”
When in 1954 François Michelin became manager of the Michelin company, he was 28 years old. His grandfather, Edouard Michelin, the founder of the company, died in 1940. François occupied the office of his grandfather Edouard, a small office that remained famous for its sobriety. One day, in the sixties, a retired employee was received by François Michelin in the same office. It was with great emotion that he told his boss that when he was 16 and that his job was to distribute the mail of the company, he was asked one morning to deliver a letter in person to Edouard Michelin. Very impressed, he went to Edouard ‘s office, who made him come in and said “Hello sir, please come in and sit down”. This mark of deference on the part of the big boss had marked him deeply. These words had remained engraved to this day in his mind and in his heart. The founder of the company showed a deep respect for people regardless of their social position.
For Edouard Michelin to help man to become what he is, that’s what counts above all. It was this Michelin spirit that made it possible for Marius Mignol, a typograph worker with no intellectual training, to become the inventor of the radial tire that revolutionized the entire tire industry. When he was hired, Mignol should have been sent to the factory’s printing press, but Edouard Michelin spoke to the chief of staff, saying: “Do not stop at appearances. Remember that it is necessary to break the stone to find the diamond hidden inside. ”
Mignol was appointed to the commercial department responsible for export markets. It was there that one day Edouard Michelin noticed a curious slide rule on his table. Mignol had designed it to convert currency faster. Edouard exclaimed, “This man is a genius! “. Mignol proved to be a man of extraordinary imagination. He was transferred to the research department at a time when the conventional tire had reached its limits because of its high speed heating. To study the flow of heat in a tire, Mignol imagined the “fly cage”, a tire whose sides were replaced by radial cables and widely spaced. The tire that resulted from this research proved revolutionary.
It was because Edouard Michelin was interested in men more than in things that Marius Mignol could discover his talents and put them at the service of others.
Fraternal humility, far from being an obstacle to the development of the company, is the condition of its success: the Michelin company is the world’s largest tire manufacturer.