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Celebrating 30 Years of Commitment and Loyalty

In the previous issue of A Pure World, we talked with three members of the Jacobi team that hit their 25 years milestone with the company. This time we meet two employees who have surpassed that and are celebrating their 30 year anniversary with Jacobi. Philippe Suberville and David Gomez are part of our team in France. We spoke to them about their long careers with Jacobi.

To the left: Philippe in the JCF lab 25 years ago. To the right: Philippe in the lab today – not much has changed in 25 years!

Guys, tell us who you are and what you do here at Jacobi?

Philippe: I was hired in 1992 by the PICA company, based in Vierzon as part of the 5x8 Production Shift Technicians. Our task was to optimise the new chemical plant (Phosphoric Acid Wood Activation) and strengthen the management of the teams in all the production activities. I was promoted to Shift Leader in 1994, then moved up the ranks to Assistant Production Planning and finally to Production Manager in 2014, three years after Jacobi acquired PICA .

David: I was hired in 1992 at the same time as Philippe. We were the “New Musketeers” for optimisation of the new chemical plant. I have had a similar journey as Philippe until the end of 1999. At the start of the new century, I helped the IT department (because of the year 2000 bug that so many were afraid of). This was for the development of the new ERP, the famous “PROTEAN”. For many months, I supported IT and manufacturing services to update the “stock” (I think it was premonitory). During this period, year 2000, I joined the production team, and I climbed step by step to the role of Production Manager.

Then in 2014, Philippe took up the torch with “panache” as Production Manager after me. By then, we had been here long enough, we were the “last musketeers”. Now I have the role of Supply Manager.

David pictured with his now wife and a friend just before joining PICA in 1992.

30 years on the job. What would you say has been the most interesting or challenging point in your career with Jacobi Group? Any standout moments?

Philippe: For sure, the most interesting and challenging point was my promotion to Production Manager. From a general point of view, I feel very good at Jacobi. The communication is easy, and each opinion matters – although the English language is a challenge. The celebration of the 100th anniversary of Jacobi and the starting of the new impregnation unit VITA were standout moments.

David: During the 30 years, the face of the factory has changed like a “fashion week”. We have known the plant from its history when the coconut charcoal used to arrive at the plant from Asia in train wagons and the wood chips in trucks for our chemical activation plant. Since the activation activities shifted from France to Asia, the factory in Vierzon changed with time, and we saw another raw material, coal-based activated carbon, taking up space in the plant. Then, with Jacobi’s acquisition of PICA, we moved into a value-added factory with reactivation, impregnation and pharmaceutical grade production, where our expertise lies.

We built and improved equipment including chemical activation equipment, screening stations, air jet mills, ball mill grinders, and impregnation units – all to produce the same carbon product but finished in so many different ways.

We also developed our attitude towards safety during this time. Now we see our operators putting on their PPE like knights putting on armour. It has been fascinating!

My biggest challenge is still the English language; for me, it was a big change when Jacobi bought PICA.

“Personally, I have learned tremendously from these two gentlemen and I am so proud of their commitment and loyalty to the group through thick and thin. I hope we will continue with such legacies in years to come!” 
Usman Saeed

From left: Usman Saeed (EMEA Manufacturing Director at Jacobi), Philippe Suberville and David Gomez outside our plant in Vierzon.

What’s your favourite aspect of your day-to-day work?

Philippe: As I get older, it seems to me that there are more and more challenges, particularly after the pandemic. But it is motivating to find solutions which make the company stronger day by day. Talking with people, finding new ways, and working as a team is very important to me.

David: To help and support sales as well as other departments in the company. I think of it like working as an ant, patiently and thoroughly, to find solutions or products for any request. It is very rewarding.

If you could change one thing about your work or Jacobi Group, what would it be?

Philippe: This is a good question. As said before, it is pleasant to work at Jacobi, but we could make some moments less stressful and share more good things with our colleagues.

David: Yes, I agree with Philippe, and we need to take even more time to properly diagnose each problem to find the right solution.

Now that you’ve hit the 30 year mark, is there anything in the future that you’re especially looking forward to (and you can’t say retirement)?

Philippe: Fortunately, there is always something to improve professionally to stay motivated! But I will say something banal… These last years were painful. Feeling better and sharing more fun moments becomes more and more important. I’m not thinking of retirement, but I enjoy the holidays more now, discovering new regions or countries.

David: Do I think a new phase will appear as it has in the last three decades? I say YES! “TOMME” is in the pipeline, and I think we will see new challenges that we will face. Jacobi will never stop developing. We have many things to do in the coming years.

Philippe, David, thank you for taking the time to talk to the A Pure World editorial team. We wish you many happy years continued here at Jacobi.

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