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Jean-François Hoerlé


Jean-François Hoerlé, Marketing and Communication Manager

The ride-on lawnmower specialist

Based in Alsace and part of the Outils Wolf group, Etesia is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of ride-on lawn mowers, providing green space maintenance services to some of Europe’s leading capital cities and a number of other major cities. The group’s Marketing and Communication Manager Jean-François Hoerlé explains how the Internet has become unavoidable for developing the company’s export activity.

Based in Wissembourg in Alsace, Etesia was founded in 1989 within the Outils Wolf group. This SME specialises in the design, manufacture and sale of professional equipment for green space maintenance, and has successfully developed an entire range of lawnmowers, with a particular focus on ride-on mowers. “We’ve got models built 25 years ago that still work perfectly well” points out Jean-François Hoerlé. “We design our models based on the grass cutting system, not the tractor.”

Ride-on lawnmowers account for two thirds of the group’s sales (€28 million in 2015 for a workforce of 130). They are followed by ride-on brushcutters manufactured by a Japanese company, robot mowers designed by a Belgian company, and finally lawnmowers. The group’s latest product is an electric wheelbarrow.

65% of sales come from exports

The target customer base comprises green space maintenance professionals (local authorities, landscape gardeners) as well as camp-sites, hotels, swimming pool facilities, amusement parks and demanding private individuals. In recent years, Etesia has stepped up its export activity, especially to Eastern Europe (Russia, Czech Republic, Poland).

“We have customers in Europe’s leading capital cities (Paris, Madrid, Lisbon, Berlin, London), as well as in cities further afield such as Dubai, Saint-Petersbourg or New-Delhi”, says Jean-François Hoerlé. Today, exports represent 65% of the company’s revenues, with Germany topping the list (15%) followed by the Benelux and the United Kingdom (10% each).

The Internet brings in 90% of contacts

For Jean-François Hoerlé, Etesia’s website, available in 4 languages (French, German, English and Dutch), has become key to developing the company’s export activity. “Out site brings in 90% of all our contacts”, he points out. Hence the importance of developing a new version more in line with the latest needs, in particular for e-commerce. “Our present site dates back to 2009 and was given a facelift in 2013. We are now going to modernise it so that it is more innovative and responsive. We also want to set up a genuine e-commerce store”, he explains.

“Europages, the tool for recruiting new importers”

For Jean-François Hoerlé, Europages allows Etesia to benefit from an online presence in languages that would otherwise not be readily accessible. “Europages translates our ten keywords into 15 languages”, which allows us to reach new targets. We have been using Europages’ services since 2012 and we see it as a genuine recruitment tool for new importers in faraway countries like New Zealand, Australia and South Africa” he says.

In addition, Etesia organises e-mailing campaigns in French and German. The company is also to be found on Facebook (pages in French, German and English). It has organised advertising campaigns on Facebook in French with some interesting response rates.

 Link building is all-important

Jean-François Hoerlé’s tip for companies looking to develop their export activity boils down to “link building”, i.e. getting other sites that specialise in your field of activity to link to a page on your website. This effectively increases your online presence. “The web is a powerful tool for export” he concludes.

E*Page: Estesia

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