Pilote Films, the distributor for RTS & Telex intercom products in France, is one of those companies the history of which reads as an unbroken string of successes. It was founded in 1982 by three young people with a shared passion for technology — Bettina Hülsmeyer, Véronique Pellerin and Gérard Loupias — and its philosophy is founded on a straightforward but exacting precept: round-the-clock customer service.
Straubing, Germany The founders come from different walks of life, two of them being MBA graduates and the third a sound engineer. Theirs is a powerful synergy; and it can't hurt, either, that the Director General, Bettina Hülsmeyer, comes from a family with a long tradition of technical innovation:
It was her grandfather, Christian Hülsmeyer, who in 1904 invented RADAR. Pilote Films has included RTS & Telex products in its range since 1986 and sold its first major intercom system for an outside broadcast van in 1989. Today, around 70% of all intercom systems for outside broadcast vehicles sold in France come from Pilote Films — and by extension, therefore, from RTS & Telex.
Pilote Films makes a point of establishing a close working relationship with all its customers, which is why they have remained faithful to the company over the years. It takes the trouble to find out precisely what the needs of each customer are, and can therefore offer reliable advice as to which of the products in the RTS & Telex range best suit their requirements, rather than speculating from a position of ignorance.
Bettina Hülsmeyer, can cite other reasons for the astonishing success of Pilote Films: "We have remained a small enterprise. Small is beautiful. With 15 employees, we have all the personnel we need to provide optimal service for our customers. Most of our staff come from the broadcasting sector and know the requirements of our customers inside out: they understand their modus operandi and are well acquainted with the environments in which, and the equipment with which, they work. The trick is to focus on the requirements of the customer with whom you are dealing; to listen to what he or she is saying; and analyze carefully each situation that presents itself before offering an opinion — an opinion, based, of course, upon an equally intimate acquaintance with the products themselves and the technology upon which they are based: "We awake to intercoms, think about intercoms during lunch, and go to bed with intercoms," says Hülsmeyer with a smile.
One of the customers of Pilote Films is the leading French TV broadcaster TF1, which in 2000 had installed what was then the largest intercom system on the European mainland, consisting of a 4-frame ADAM (400 x 400) with over 180 keypanels; but increasingly, too, Pilote Films has concerned itself with the smaller, regional television companies — a market segment in which it has enjoyed tremendous success: "Thanks to RVONVoIP technology, we have been able to offer these smaller broadcasters solutions that correspond precisely to their needs," explains Bettina Hülsmeyer, "as they use relatively small sub-studios that we can connect directly to their broadcasting centers without any need for additional matrices, saving them a great deal of money." Regional broadcasters like FR3 Aquitaine in Bordeaux and FR3 Ouest in Rennes, for example, are using matrices with RVON cards to establish VoIP connections with their smaller studios in the departments. This technology has also excited keen interest in other regions where French is widely spoken, such as the Maghreb (Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia…), which is why Pilote Films will be extending its activities to such regions in the near future.
Comments Bettina Hülsmeyer: "Our success here in France is founded on two pillars: One is our concept of service, which involves 24/7 availability and the ability to act fast. Only last week, we were contacted in the middle of the night by a customer whose matrix had been knocked out by a fire, and were able to supply them with a replacement while we repaired the damaged matrix in record time. Time, after all, is money —a truism, perhaps, but one the importance of which we have grasped. The other is something that sets RTS & Telex products apart from all others on the market, and that the extent of their mutual compatibility. Today, for example, I can connect one of the latest generation of keypanels to a 1989 matrix with no problems. No other manufacturer applies the principle of compatibility with the same degree of consistency, and it is this that makes it possible for customers to expand their systems freely to match their individual needs, without having to replace their existing components."
The astuteness of this assessment and the full extent of the dividends to be garnered from this type of diligence and acumen are what emerged most clearly from a recent internal survey that showed Pilote Films, based on its performance over the past year, way ahead of all RTS & Telex other partners.
Nico Lewis, Sales Manager RTS & Telex Intercom, who attended the IBC 2006 in Amsterdam where the award to Pilote Films was presented, was equally enthusiastic: "Pilote Films has not just generated outstanding sales figures; but is well ahead in other areas, too, that are extremely important to us, such as support, service and market coverage. We can only congratulate Bettina Hülsmeyer and her team — and ourselves, too, on our excellent choice of partner!"