Best-of-Breed in Fire Detection
Apollo Fire Detectors Invests in Manufacturing and Product Portfolio
In August 2017 Charles Lombard has taken over the role as the new Managing Director of Apollo Fire Detectors with regional responsibility for the EMEA region. With a career working in many European countries, Charles has led global businesses of increasing size and complexity based in Italy, Australia, Denmark and France. At a visit in Havant, the GIT SECURITY team had the opportunity to talk to Charles about his plans and the strategy of Apollo.
What was the motivation for you to take over the new role?
Charles Lombard: I was thrilled to join the Apollo team and to work for a truly global company and leader in its field. Apollo can look back on a rich heritage and tradition, and I am planning to work with the team to continue building on these foundations and develop the next generations of innovative fire detection technology. I want to continue the great work Steve Brown and his team did in the last years. My background from the building industry is a good fit to Apollo’s business as part of the Infrastructure Safety division within the Halma group. The goal of the division is to make products that improve the safety and mobility of people, and protect infrastructure. This is a meaningful mission and I am more than happy to be part of it now.
While our visit here in Havant we have seen that Apollo has invested a lot in the R&D department but also in your production facilities. Can you give us some background?
Charles Lombard: You are right. We have massively invested in our manufacturing capacity here in Havant. The fully automated high throughput production lines give us every opportunity to grow the business in the future and they are a strong commitment Halma made for the production site here.
Can you tell us more about Apollos strategy for the next months?
Charles Lombard: Our strategy is based on three pillars. The first one is the geo expansion where we want to expand our sales outside the UK. Already today two thirds of our production is sold outside the UK and we have established local presences in the key markets in the US, Germany, Dubai, India and Singapore to serve the markets there.
In addition to this plan, we have launched a panel partner program where we work closer with the manufacturers of fire panels and last but not least we will further invest in the launch of new and innovative products to expand our market position.
What is the goal of the panel partner program?
Charles Lombard: Apollo fire detection systems are partnership systems. Typically detectors and interfaces are supplied by Apollo and the control panel by an independent manufacturer. As a specifier, you may also choose sounders or interfaces designed and manufactured by independent suppliers in order to have a system that best meets the needs of the project. You make the choice and choice is at the heart of Apollo's philosophy. In an ideal system, detectors, sounders, interfaces and control panel form a powerful, reliable system. We help to achieve this by testing manufacturers' products for compatibility with Apollo products. These manufacturers submit their products to Apollo's Product support department which carries out a full test program. Products that pass all the tests are then certified. Specifiers can request copies of the test certificates when designing fire detection systems. This ensures that the different elements of the system will work perfectly with the others. In every country where we are active we want to strengthen our relationship with global and local fire panel vendors. We work with them on the best possible integration of our products into their systems so that the end-user gets the maximum out of an Apollo product. We see a trend towards best-of-breed products in fire detection and a high level of integration secures that all the competitive advantages our products offer can be used.
Can you give us a glimpse on what is in your product pipeline for the next months?
Charles Lombard: All I can say at the moment is that we will expand our Soteria range detectors, which uses the latest in innovative technology to help eliminate some of the main causes of false alarms. Early in 2018, we will launch Soteria Dimension, a completely new range of sleek, flat optical fire detectors for flush mounting, using chamberless fire detection technology. The new range consists of an Optical Detector designed for commercial environments with high aesthetic requirements and a Specialist Optical Detector, designed for custodial and care environments. Over the coming weeks, more information will be released as the new range of detectors is launched.
Charles Lombard was born in France and holds degrees from the Grenoble Graduate School of Business and the University of Birmingham.
After completing his military service in the French Navy as a Reserve Officer, Charles embarked on a career in sales, marketing and manufacturing in the industrial and building products industries. These include a number of businesses and divisions with Illinois Tool Works (ITW), an industrial multinational group specialising in industrial tools and consumables for the building industry and an Italian manufacturer of paints and varnishes for the construction market.
In his roles as senior manager and managing directors of companies, Charles has gained more than 20 years’ experience in international and multi-cultural leadership. Prior to taking on his current role as managing director of Apollo, Charles lived and worked in France, Italy, Australia and Denmark.
Charles was appointed managing director EMEA at Apollo Fire Detectors in August 2017. He lives in the Portsmouth area with his family.