Half a century – the Legrand plant in Szentes, southeast Hungary, celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2011. If you also consider its legal predecessors in Hungary, the period to celebrate is over nine decades.
The origin of the Legrand Group dates back to 1860 with a porcelain workshop on the “route de Lyon” in Limoges, France. In 1949, a decision was made to focus exclusively on the production of electrical wiring accessories for installations. Nowadays, Legrand is considered a global specialist in this area and that of information networks, having production facilities in 70 countries, employing some 31,000 people, and distributing its products in over 180 countries.
In 1992, Legrand acquired – through privatization – the Hungarian Kontakta company which had been operating in Szentes since 1961, with its predecessor established in 1919 in Budapest. The CEO of Legrand Hungary, Laszlo Karolyi outlined the development of the company to Diplomacy and Trade by saying that at the time of the privatization, the annual production of accessories by one employee was 9,000, which grew to 55,000 by 2010.
This is due, in part, to an investment of HUF 12.4 billion (EUR 47 million) by Legrand over the past 19 years, as well as to the Hungarian expertise at the Szentes plant, which includes a research and development department dedicated to sustainable development through innovation. Legrand Hungary’s Budapest office is in charge of distributing the Group’s products and services in Hungary.
Legrand manufactures 180,000 different type of products worldwide, of which it sells 30,000 in Hungary. The product range includes – besides switches and sockets – building automatization (e.g., smart solutions) and energy dissipation systems, and even the installation of structured networks.
The CEO, who was named ‘Manager of the Year’ in Hungary in 2009, points out that the aim of Legrand is to involve state-of-the art technology in the creation of products that are easy to install and use – accessories that guarantee effective, time-saving work. The high-tech products all reflect the current trends in design, as well.
They do not only serve the purpose of energy efficient operation and convenience in one’s home, but also provide complete solutions for electrical equipment in offices, workplaces, industrial facilities and even in hospitals. Since 2007, Legrand Hungary has been among the country’s top 500 companies, with a turnover of HUF 17.7 billion (EUR 64,3 million) in 2010.
On the occasion of the 50th anniversary, Legrand has announced two tenders for the public with the themes innovation and creativity. The first one – as Laszlo Karolyi puts it – is “for interior designers to create a composition, a sculpture or whatever, using pieces from our product range, to be judged by a jury headed by the rector of the Budapest University of Art and Design”. Members of the jury: Sandor Roman, artistic director of ExperiDance Dance Theater, French Ambassador Rene Roudaut, designer Rajmund Domjan, winner of the Henkel Art Award for international art designers in 2007 and Laszlo Karolyi, general manager of Legrand Hungary.
The other one is for the general public – strictly for non-professionals – where “we expectimaginative photos featuring a Legrand product from an innovative angle.” The winners are announced in September this year. Legrand emphasizes its aims and achievements as well as its social responsibility objectives, primarily in Szentes, with regard to the local community and to the environment. The management promotes healthy lifestyle through campaigns like supporting mass bicycle rides around town on car-free days. Through a joint foundation with the Hungarian Red Cross, Legrand acknowledges and rewards its employees who donate blood.
Cultural and sports activities have also been supported. Outside the local community, the company also helps those in need, the latest example being the provision of accessories for 50 houses and the mayor’s office in Szendro, a northeastern Hungarian town suffering flood damages.