Scrap'Air packs a punchPublished 2/3 at 14:49
Scrap’Air is a brand of pneumatic hammers manufactured and marketed by French company Mabi and suitable for wood treatment, surface preparation and demolition applications. PDi’s Andrei Bushmarin reports on a recent visit to the company in Belfort.
In countries habitually called developed, it is small and mid-size enterprises that drive the economy forward. France, being one of Europe’s biggest and most technologically advanced economies, has no shortage of small firms in every industrial sector. Mabi, which manufactures pneumatic tools, is a prime example of such a company.
Mabi way of surface treatment
Mabi was founded by Marc Bidaux in 1967. An electrician by education, he was 23 when he set up a workshop in Belfort with two colleagues. In its early days Mabi focused on offering solutions for protection of wooden structures. One of wood’s worst enemies is a pest that destroys it from inside. At the time most pest control operators just sprayed the surface of timber with chemicals without any significant penetration. Some tried to use hollow rods to reach inside, but there was always a problem with backflow.
Marc Bidaux designed a system with a special injector and a pump that allowed chemical agents to be injected inside wood without any backflow. This set-up could also be employed to eliminate subterranean termites under concrete slabs. The solution proved to be effective, and Mabi’s wood treatment systems became a cornerstone of the company’s business.
In 1984 Marc Bidaux conceived an idea of a hand held pneumatic hammer that would make the work of wood treatment specialists much easier. Brand named Scrap’Air, the lightweight and ergonomically shaped hammers could perform diverse jobs such as wood peeling, asbestos removal and selective demolition.
The hammer line is divided in four groups based on power rating ranging from 15J to 35J. One of the hammers’ highlights is a dual anti-vibration system. Anti-vibration is doubled by having one damper installed in the hammer’s nozzle, while the other is integrated into the handle. Users can choose between three types of handle, short, medium and long, depending on the job requirements. The machines come with a choice of 25 replaceable tools.
A new chapter in Mabi’s history began in 2001 when Bidaux’s son Olivier, also aged 23 at the time, took over the helm from his father. With a personal motto ‘nothing is impossible’ and years of practice in kick boxing, he cut a no-nonsense managerial figure that would successfully guide the firm through numerous ups and downs, including the 2008 recession. His passion for sport was reflected in his choice of a public figure for Scrap’Air billboard advertising. David ‘The Red Griffin’ Radeff, a renowned kick boxer and a fellow Belfort native, posed in the promotional picture brandishing a Scrap’Air hammer. He took Mabi to the next level and under his management the company expanded its international reach and was awarded a number of national trophies including Lumières de l’innovation and Stars and Métiers.
50 years young and looking to the future
Mabi operates a 200m2 workshop located in an industrial zone on the outskirts of Belfort, where it manufactures, services and repairs its machines. Orders are dispatched from an adjacent 1000m2 warehouse. With a staff of 13, Mabi is a team of multitaskers, whose main priority is building a global dealer network. Currently Mabi has 30 dealers worldwide, with 90% based in Europe. Mabi’s Export Manager Marie Montornes, said that developing the US market is the key objective in 2017. As part of this strategy, Mabi will exhibit at Conexpo alongside its American distributor.
Although injectors and pumps for wood treatment are still Mabi’s core product, Scrap’Air hammers are increasingly gaining traction with customers. They are particularly popular with asbestos removal contractors thanks to the construction that allows easy decontamination of the machine after the completion of work. To make Scrap’Air even more competitive, Mabi keeps tweaking and improving the design. In 2017, Mabi is going to introduce two handles, a ‘D’ handle allowing one-hand operation and a redesigned ‘T’ handle. With so many plans laid out and the company’s 50th anniversary coming up in June, 2017 promises to be an eventful year for Mabi.