Corner assembly Chantelle/Passionata in Martinique – Case study

We assemble furniture all over Europe. That’s a given.  Paris, Prague, Munich, Oslo, you name it. Our team is more than familiar with these places. However, the excitement in the team began to rise when Martinique appeared on the agenda. We made our second visit to the Caribbean at the beginning of 2017.

Everybody dreams about this, especially in January, when mean ambient temperature in the area oscillates between 21 and 28°C. There were more volunteers than places, and there was only one place available.

We received an enquiry from Chantelle Group a few months earlier. In theory, everything seemed to be quite simple: we produce furniture which we later ship to the French harbour of le Havre, and the shipment continues all the way to Martinique. Our man arrives at the Lafayette Gallery in  Fort-de-France at an appointed hour; he is a supervisor to provide advice and share expertise with a qualified team of local assemblers. The team finish the job in a day and leave home.  Both shop assistants and customers are simply delighted with a venue that brims with lace underwear. That was our goal.  However, the reality exceeded our wildest expectations.

The freighter with our furniture had technical difficulties, and we had to transfer the cargo to another craft, which meant several days of delay. This could have been a bad omen. But it was not, you superstitious. The furniture arrived on the site. However, we were reached by worrying messages that only one assembly specialist (out of the three) might be available. The reason was simple: Martinique does not work like clockwork; it’s not Switzerland. Things began to look interesting. The day of assembly finally came. The supervisor arrived on site and found three people ready. But were they real assembly specialists? Some would disagree. And so they began to work. The supervisor did not speak French, so they managed with a little bit of English, a little bit of gestures and a little bit of guesswork. The next few hours brought another surprise. In the Arab countries they call it Pharaoh’s Revenge. We still do not know who wanted to square the accounts with our man in Martinique. What we do know, however, is that it was highly unpleasant. We will spare you the details. All you need to know is that the tummy bug made the supervisor unfit for work. He told the assembly team what to do. They nodded to show that everything was going to be OK, and yet it was not. A barrage of phone calls began several hours later first from Martinique to France, and then from France to our headquarters. “What’s going on?” “Where is the supervisor?” “Are we going to finish in time?” But to answer all these you have to first reach the supervisor. Hence another difficulty because he lost his phone on his way. We could only contact him through his tablet, which sometimes simply said no. With minimum progress on the next day, the assembly team began to lose patience, but they did nothing to continue the work. This was slightly uncomfortable: everybody was worried and wondering how to resolve the situation. We decided to send another man of ours to Martinique on the same day. As luck would have it, he was in the south of France, which he left for Paris and then for Martinique.

The whole story came to a happy ending. Our first supervisor recovered and is now safe and sound in Poland. Our second supervisor, as he accomplished his rescue mission, has won a new nickname, Assistance, and took a few nice pictures in a tropical setting. More importantly, however, the furniture was successfully installed, and the Client was very happy with both the final effect and our commitment (the assembly was completed by our people).   Any volunteers for Martinique? We bet a few would be more than happy to agree! 🙂