Laurent Boix Vives

bio > Laurent Boix Vives

Son of Anselme Boix-Vives and Marie-Louis Marquez-Llull he was born in Brides-les-Bains on the 30th August 1926. His parents ran a grocers in Brides-les-Bains before moving down the valley to Moûtiers. Laurent started skiing as a child at Moriond (future Courchevel 1650). He would take the tram (L’Electrobus) to Bozel then climb, skis on his shoulder, to the Roc Merlet. In 1943 he joined the resistance with his brother, Anselme jr. Laurent would transport arms across the col des Saises at la Plagne. Anselme was killed by German troops in the summer of 1944.

Following the war Laurent had plans to build a cable car from Seez to the col du Petit Saint-Bernard (future la Rosiere) or to install lifts on Mont Bochor above Pralognan la Vanoise. However he left school before completing his ‘Bac.’, his dad’s business was not doing too well and he needed someone who understood figures. He obviously was very close to his father, his house in Voiron is decorated with paintings by Anselme. In parallel he set up his own business importing potatoes from Holland with a shop at Courchevel 1850. To sell his produce and that of his fathers he went from village to village in the Savoie. He saw at first hand the depopulation of the mountains as the peasant farmers left to work in factories at Bozel or Moûtiers. The ski industry looked like it could be the local population’s salvation.

Finally it was at Moriond that he build his first ski lifts at the start of the 1950s. In four years he built 20 lifts and he remained president of the Société des télépheriques de Moriond (STM) until it was taken over in 1999 by the Société des Trois Vallées. Something that did not please “Mr Boix”, as the Tarins call him. “In 1999 St Bon didn’t want to renew my franchise, I will never ski there again”.

At Courchevel he met Olympic chamion Emile Allais. Allais was working with Laurent Chappis on the ski runs of the new resort. In 1956 Allais asked him to look over the accounts of Rossignol who was in financial difficulty. The firm had a metal ski design that seemed to have a lot of potential and he decided to buy the firm, guarding just 30 of the firm’s 180 employees and the son of the founder. The firms scored Olympic success with the Allais 60 at the Squaw games of 1960 then launched the first fibreglass ski, the Strato, in 1964. The Strato would go on to sell a million pairs. Only two other skis have done the same, both from the Rossignol stable. A testament to Boix-Vives foresite and managerial skills. At the age of 50 “Le Nouvel Economiste” voted him mangers of the year. With the opening of factories in the States and Europe Boix-Vives saw the mondialisation of skiing and the economies that could be achieved with a worldwide market. As part of this strategy Rossignol also sought out foreign skiers to sponsor such as Bode Miller and Alberto Tomba who used Rossignol skis since he was 11 years old. Boix-Vives is a great fan of “la Bomba”, to the point of pardoning the Italian when he stole some vintage wine from his cellar in Voiron. Today one skier in three uses Rossignol skis.

Self taught, Boix-Vives is a rarety in French management more used to the products of the ENA (Ecole nationale d'administration) and the Grandes Ecoles de Commerce. However his success at building Rossignol into a worldwide powerhouse as won him grudging acceptance and admiration. Amongst other honours he presided over the Institut pour le development industriel (IDI). Even his days off on the ski slopes of Courchevel were a chance to meet and mix with the rich and powerful such as Juan Carlos and Valerie Giscard d’Estaing.

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