We have received the sad news that access industry veteran René Clément, founder and former owner of Swiss company Axeo, in Cugy, Vaud, has died in Brazil.
After studying technology, he began his career with the UpRight sales and rental subsidiary Vectur Germany, where he was a salesman for the company’s Instant aluminium scaffold towers and Flying Carpet scissor lifts. In those days salesmen had to travel with a trailer full of demo gear and were measured by the number of demonstrations carried out each week and the conversion rate to quotations and orders. It was not a job for the faint hearted, but was a good school for people entering the access industry.
Clément either started or became manager of UpRight’s Swiss sales and rental business - Vectur Suisse - originally based in Lausanne. In the mid to late 1980s he purchased the business from UpRight and morphed it into Axeo. He was a real character and for many years he preferred to buy his scaffold stock from Albret, the UpRight licensee in Montpellier, France. He would leave Switzerland on a Friday with a ‘special friend’ and drive along the Cote D’Azur to Montpellier to fill up his van with Instant scaffold components, and then take a leisurely drive home stopping off at a nice hotel and restaurant or two along the way.
When asked if he might return to buying his scaffold from the factory in Ireland, given that he was the official dealer, he would say with a smile and glint in his eye: “No it is OK my trips to the south of France make it all worthwhile”. He knew what was really important in life and made the most of it. In later life moved to Brazil with his partner Olga Justy but remained active and interested in business till the end. He was a true character and one of the last of the old guard.
Damian Schuler of Swiss sales and rental specialist Schuler & Schuler, who knew him better than most, said: “What sad news reached us last night, the death of our dear friend René Clément - former founder and owner of Axeo SA in Cugy VD, Switzerland. We are all completely surprised and speechless. René was a unique person to all of us and a pioneer in many ways. He was always open to new things and he was anything but petty. René always had a head full of 1,000 ideas and had a solution ready for every problem. Even if some of these ideas were hardly feasible, in the end he still got everything done right. At the right time he quit the professional life and moved together with his partner Olga Justy to Brazil, where he still fulfilled many of his big dreams. Olga was his great pride and they both harmonised perfectly, despite the considerable age difference."
"René was always very dynamic and always had new plans. With his great urge for freedom and to discover the big wide world, she was always at his side. In our business sector he was one of the first on the market. After studying technology, he was soon in the service of Vectur Germany, where he marketed the revolutionary Instant Span aluminium mobile scaffolding and 'Flying Carpets' from UpRight with great passion. René Clément was the first UpRight dealer in Switzerland and brought us to the table with Leigh Sparrow, former general manager of UpRight Europe. Everyone in my age and older knew him. René was very persistent and visited them all personally. He was a salesman with the heart and soul of the old guard. He had no hesitation in knocking on doors again and again until the customer was completely convinced of his cause.”
“Not everyone understood his ideas and dreams from the start. But in the end, he left a striking mark on our industry and lived a full and good life. He will always have a prominent place in our hearts, and we will always keep him a worthy memory.”