Benoît Laval, founder and CEO of Raidlight has been running since the age of 10. A seasoned athlete and marathon runner, he’s been running on trails for several years, orienteering, snowshoe racing and skiing. When he’s on the trails he thinks. This is how he came up with the idea of creating Raidlight. The first prototype products were made and tested by himself. Benoit would then take his products to trail races around France. They became an immediate success with trail runners and within a short period of time Benoit had to start mass-producing them.
As a trained textile engineer, Benoît Laval was not unfamiliar with the production process. He started his career in a company in Saint-Etienne, a sub-contractor for a well-known brand of outdoor products. Since the creation of the Raidlight company in 1999, this innovative approach has continued to help product growth year after year.
An Introduction By Benoit Laval
Testing & adapting
Benoît Laval doesn’t just run to air his neurones, or to train, but also to put to the test, under race conditions, the products that his company designs and markets. In fact the whole team participates in this practical and collective creation process, reflecting the enthusiasm of its founder.
For Benoît Laval “the core business of Raidlight is the passion for sport”. Its products meet the customer’s needs and are tested by those who use them. A powerful driving force, because the turnover of the company at St Pierre Chartreuse progresses year after year.
During these years, Raidlight has learnt to walk in the footsteps of its customers. It has followed them in the Marathon des Sables, from trail runs to races worldwide, and then along the Compostelle Route, forever adapting its products to their needs. The idea is to welcome as much feedback from customers as possible regarding the products. The Raidlight website encourages customers to post reviews of the products and to suggest any design changes they feel would be beneficial. From initial design to a constant evolving product Raidlight can truly state that it produces products that are designed by runners for runners.
Raidlight has the “willpower to be different from other brands”. Because we don’t have the same means and the same infrastructure as our competitors, we have to do things differently if we want them to work”, stresses Benoît Laval.
10 years of success
1999: founding of Raidlight
2001: first employee is recruited
2004: the company heightens its policy with retailers
2006: the first overseas retailers (Spain and United Kingdom)
2007: first research and development project with the competitive cluster Sporaltec.
2009: Benoit Laval got the award of “Corporate Manager of the Year” in the “Loire” Region.
2009: Benoit Laval became France Trail Running Vice Champion
2010: Raidlight became member of the Group “OSEO Excellence, le réseau des entrepreneurs qui vont de l’avant”
2010: The brand Vertical became part of Raidlight
2011: The company moved in Saint Pierre de Chartreuse and open the first “Trail Resort” in Europe
2012: Creation of the National Network of Trail Resort (2 opening in 2012)
2012: Planet’ Raidlight received the award of Innovation “Bref Rhône-Alpes” and the “Janus” Award given by the French Institute of Design
2013: Continued growth of the Station du Trail Resorts around Europe Raidlights Charter for respect “Raidlight is a company on a human scale.”
For us, respect is:
Respecting the product: that it is technical and specific.
Respecting the customer: be transparent about the design and manufacture of the product and take into consideration the remarks made by the customers in order for the product to progress.
Respecting our partners and our sub-contractors, even if they are on the other side of the world.
Respecting the environment: we don’t want to give lessons or just commercialise, we endeavour to make improvements at all times, we want to be the forerunners taking into account market conditions.
Respecting our workforce: each year we distribute 20% of our profits, we hope to continue to recruit at the same rate as in previous years; there were three of us in 2004, seven in 2006, twelve in 2008 and 30 in 2013
Tomorrow we’ll be even more, customers, partners and employees, if we continue to respect each other.