What is your position within ARQUUS?
Maxime Leroy: I am currently Team Leader at the end of the Bastion production line. I look after the finish, retouching and provisioning for the customer. I am in charge of six people distributed across these three areas.
What exactly is end-of-line work?
Maxime Leroy: Working with the finish, we are the last people to see the vehicle before the customer does. We have to stick to the schedule. We have both priorities and emergencies. No two days are quite the same. We're under pressure. We all have deadlines. It's a real challenge, and that's something I really like.
The retouching work is always different. If there are any concerns over the vehicle, that falls under my responsibility. We learn something new every day!
There's no set routine in this job. We're not working against the clock. Earlier stages in the renovation work need to keep things moving along. I take on anything they aren't able to fix.
What has been your career path with ARQUUS?
Maxime Leroy: I originally started out as a motorcycle mechanic - completely different. Then I worked on firefighting vehicles. Now the military side of things suits me down to the ground, because I get to help and support the armed forces.
I began with ACMAT on 1 October 2010 on a temporary contract, then moved on to a provisional permanent contract until 2017, when I was hired permanently on 1 November 2017. After spending time on 95% of on line and preparation positions, especially on the Bastion/VLRA line, I became substitute manager in June 2016.
Site de production du Bastion à Saint-Nazaire
Does it help to have experience across the whole line now you have become a manager?
Maxime Leroy: Absolutely. I get to apply my knowledge when any problems arise. Although I can't say I know the vehicle inside out, but I do have some familiarity, and that helps. I have been lucky to travel a bit. I went to Sweden with the After-Sales Service team in 2016 and 2017.
9 years - soon to be 10 - with ARQUUS is a long time! Have you never thought about changing?
Maxime Leroy: I am passionate about what I do. I waited seven years before being hired on a permanent basis. I love my job. It has never even crossed my mind to look elsewhere.
I'm really passionate about it. These are my Bastions. They asked me to switch over to the VT4 for the finishing work. I'm capable of doing it but I prefer my armoured vehicles. We build the Bastion from the ground up - from the chassis through to rolling off the production line. The scale is much bigger, and we don't work against the clock. We don't have to go on to the next vehicle after a set amount of time. We take anywhere from a few hours to a few days. It's very varied.
I feel so proud when I see them on the TV, for example. They are the fruit of our labour.
You are the last person to see the vehicle before it is handed over to the customer. What do think when the container is sealed?
Maxime Leroy: I don't have time to think about it. I tell myself "I hope I didn't forget anything", or "there goes another one", but there's 20 waiting for me. I feel pride to see them go off. We got photos when the first four arrived in Burkina and put them up on the wall. It's a really pleasing sight.
How do you manage your staff when you're working under constant pressure?
Maxime Leroy: I don't share the pressure with them. I'm here to move the team forward. They know the stage we are at and what they need to do. It's a very hands-on kind of management. Everyone knows what they have to accomplish and I manage them at every given moment, on the alert for emergencies.
People have to be made passionate about what they do. For me, what was a dream ten years ago has come true since 2016. They placed their trust in me. I didn't ask for anything, they just offered it to me. You should always inspire passion, not pressure. You need to be positive and move the team forwards.
Recently, over the past two months, we have taken operators 50km in the vehicle so they truly see the reality of it, in terms of noise, the passenger compartment, etc. They see the truck drive, and they are inside it. It makes it more real. They need to be as involved as possible. Only then will people take extra care and appreciate the importance of their work and build up some passion for the job.