An innate commercial flair and a good dose of daring led him to become the French leader in ink cartridges for printers. Without ever leaving Picardy, his native land. Jérôme de France is a relentless, passionate and, by his own admission, “a little crazy” business leader.
A ray of sunshine bathes his office in a soft autumnal light. Jerome of France peeks out the window. In this already well advanced morning, he, who at the moment is working ” 15 hours a day », finally seems to take the time to discover the color of the sky, and enjoy the moment. It is here, from Vron, a small village in Picardy, about twenty kilometers from the Baie de Somme, that the 50-year-old reigns over the printer ink cartridge market. ” I’m a real native, I grew up in the next village, my family has been here for 600 years. My goal has always been to work from home “, he launches, the look proud. Its SME, France Toner, weighs 13 million euros in turnover and has become the French leader.
” I have always dreamed of doing business “. His father is a farmer, his mother at home, the last of three siblings does not know how to explain where this commercial fiber comes from. But he quickly gets into the bath. At 20, he became department manager in a hypermarket. ” At the time, we negotiated the purchase prices ourselves, we set the sale prices, we managed the staff, it was a real job for the boss “. On his contract, he is listed 39 hours a week, he works 70.
The day after his dismissal, he creates his company
He discovered the world of printer cartridges at the end of the 1990s, recruited in a Picardy company which remanufactured printer toners. He sets up a sales method that is a hit, by sending advertising faxes to companies, rather than salespeople who canvass them. “ I was paid according to my turnover, at one point my boss told me that my salary was too high “. Either he agrees to lower his salary, or he walks out. He chooses the second option, taking with him the selling method he had pioneered.
“ I was a little crazy, but the day after this dismissal, I created my company, France Toner, from home “. He buys a second-hand fax, and convinces an ink cartridge supplier to advance him a pallet, which he will reimburse once the sales have been made. And he spends hours compiling a catalog of thousands of ink cartridge references and covers the entire fleet of French printers. ” Tedious work, which was the secret of success, because I was able to offer a wide range, at prices much lower than those of printer manufacturers, because my margins are reduced “. At first, he got his supplies in France and Germany, but very quickly the relocations of the 2000s led him to Asia, where he now buys 90% of his cartridges.
Go on TV, on the nerve
In 2005, competition emerges on the Internet, you have to stand out. ” One morning, I wake up thinking, I have to be on TV “. His leitmotif: try, if it works, great, if it doesn’t work, we do something else “. On the nerve, he spends the day calling the national channels, “ I told them that I had little money, but that I wanted to advertise! “. He is politely refused. ” At 19 ‘o clock, he adds, I still have TF1 to contact. I come across a very nice salesperson, who comes to see me in the depths of my Picardy, the next day “.
It will also be the start of a great friendship. Jérôme de France embarks on a “ pragmatic madness “, he invests the 80,000 euros of profits of his company. ” We make the shortest spot in the history of TF1, 6 seconds, for 10 days “. 6 seconds, just enough time to say a sentence. The month following this campaign, its turnover jumped by 80%. In 2007, he became the sponsor of a brand new TF1 show, a concept so audacious that no company wanted to take the risk of being associated with it: Secret story. “ The spot plays 20 times a day, for more than two months “. Once again, sales are exploding.
The duck, which became the emblem of his company, began to enter the minds of consumers. Why a duck? Because Jérôme de France was a wildlife photographer for a time. He strengthened his patience, and his ability to manage frustration, ” when a bird flies away and we haven’t had time to trigger, we have to deal with it and look again “. Nature, he has never let go. This ” crazy about work who likes to say that when you don’t have a job, you get bored “, all the same finds time on weekends to hunt with friends, “ a real passion of which I am proud “.
Committed to children
In 2020, he became the vice-president of the Valloires association, which accommodates 150 children with psychological difficulties and behavioral problems. “ During the Covid, the association appealed to local leaders for masks and gel. When I saw the children locked up and alone because of the confinement, I decided to act “. An association he knows well, because his grandfather was one of the four founding families, 100 years ago. Last summer he staged a sound and light show in the gardens of the abbey, which was a success.
Convinced that culture is essential for children, Jérôme de France does not intend to stop there, with a “ secret project in progress “. While continuing in parallel to implement his new ideas of entrepreneurship. “ I embarked on a crazy new story “, he smiles, and has just launched coffee pods with green tea extracts, “ a coffee with the benefits of antioxidants “. A still non-existent market and many unknowns. But always this mantra, “You have to try, if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t matter!” “.