IT ALL STARTED AS A FAMILY JOINERY
A passion for high-quality work: that’s what has been passed down from generation to generation at Cornilleau. At its beginnings in 1946, on our current premises, was a simple family carpentry business run by Emile Cornilleau. As France entered the post-war period, Emile left Paris hoping for a better life for his family, and settled in the Oise department, in Bonneuil-les-Eaux. There he opened his workshop and, using his woodworking talents, began to reconstruct what the war had destroyed. Business was booming, but a little over twenty years later it took an unexpected turn.
THE TURNING POINT OF 1969
France was living through its “Trente Glorieuses”, the thirty-year post-war boom, consumer culture was on the rise, and recreational activities were gaining a foothold in the lives of the French. The BHV, a large Paris department store, decided to cater to this new situation by adding new products to its catalog, including ping pong tables. Information from a neighboring company lead BHV to Cornilleau, where they put in an order for 300 tables. This was in May 1969, and BHV wanted the tables ready for Christmas. Emile didn’t have the necessary machinery to fulfill such a large order. His son, Pierre, convinced him to take on the challenge. The Cornilleau family invested all their savings in equipment, taking a small carpentry business to an industrial scale capable of fulfilling large orders within short deadlines. And their bet paid off: BHV, happy with this first collaboration, came back with an additional order – and other stores would follow. Cornilleau’s table tennis saga had begun. Emile and Pierre continued to show this same boldness, with Cornilleau making it a point of honor to be a forerunner and to innovate in many areas.
UNWAVERING VALUES FOR OVER 70 YEARS
The Cornilleau spirit, as established by Emile and his son Pierre, lives on today with the current members of the company and can be seen in each of the brand’s products. It is defined by a quest for valuable innovation, as well as by the values that give the company its strength: authenticity, excellence, well-being and goodwill. To ensure all this, Cornilleau has maintained the clear choice made at its inception: to create and produce products at the same location, in the Oise department. Concentrating innovation, marketing, production and after-sales service at the same site in Bonneuil-les-Eaux guarantees the quality of Cornilleau products and the service that accompanies them.
Read more : French know-how
Goodwill and the promotion of well-being are ingrained in our DNA and isn’t limited to the benefits our products offer. Through internal actions and with the help of partners involved in societal causes, Cornilleau brings these values to life in its efforts to make ping pong accessible to as many people as possible, especially those with whom it can be used for educational or integration purposes.
Read more : Cornilleau and solidarity
THE STAGES OF SUCCESS
The story of a joiner from the post-war era…
The history of Cornilleau is primarily a family story. In 1946, Emile Cornilleau, a joiner by trade, left Paris to offer his family a better quality of life. He decided to settle in Oise, northern France, where there was a significant demand for post-war reconstruction. He opened a joinery workshop in an old agricultural building in Bonneuil-les-Eaux: this is where the story began…
"Come and settle in Bonneuil, you'll have more work than you need"
"we need 300 tables for Christmas!"
In 1969, the consumer society and the leisure market were booming. Armed with its success, the BHV Paris is expanding its offer and indirectly puts forward a plan to Cornilleau: making pingpong tables. Fresh ambition, new expertise: the family company embarks on the adventure, making 3 prototype tables. Won over, the BHV Paris orders 300 for Christmas. This news comes in May! It’s a challenge and a half for Emile: the smallscale joinery must evolve into an industry capable of producing large volumes in a short space of time. His son Pierre convinces him to go for it. Emile Cornilleau invests all his savings in special tooling and takes up the challenge. This decision punctuates Cornilleau’s history: it is the founding event for the future pingpong brand.
"Machines... Just go out and buy them !"
A 'plus' by the name of Jacques Secrétin
More than a mere manufacturer, Cornilleau has every intention of becoming a brand. As a result, with a view to developing a professional, high-quality image, Pierre Cornilleau, who has taken on the role of company director, invites the multiple French and European Champion 1976, Jacques Secrétin, to sign a partnership with the brand, on the advice of a buyer from COOP (a sizeable central buying office of the time). The ping-pong player will mark the history of Cornilleau. He brings his expertise to play in the design of competition tables. The 420 table becomes the “420 Secrétin”. In this way, the good quality and price are complemented by notoriety. For the factory-based company, it’s the start of an association with the sport’s great champions.
"When i saw that he moved back 10 metres from the table, that the ball hit the frame before dropping back down on the table, i told myself that perhaps it was wise to listen to the champions regarding competition..."
Ping-pong heads outdoors
In the eighties, it brought an air of freedom across France… Families have a real infatuation for outdoor sports and healthy, family fun. However, outdoor ping-pong continues to remain on the sidelines: outdoor tables are simply too expensive. Pierre Cornilleau decides to make them accessible to the general public. The technical team looks into the matter, revolutionising ping-pong by using a material that had hitherto been reserved for the building world: solid laminate. A new range of outdoor tables is launched. From innovation to innovation, the Cornilleau tables are becoming increasingly high performance and hardwearing whatever the climatic conditions. It is a turning point in the history of ping-pong!
"Overnight, thanks to our new technologies, we set about making much less expensive outdoor tables..."
Early nineties, new talent at the service of the brand
Cornilleau is keen to set up an even stronger brand image developing its expertise and its product benefits. To achieve this, the company recruits Michel Zany, whose mission will consist of giving Cornilleau a commercial and marketing dimension. Michel, quickly propelled into the role of Commercial Director, works hand in hand with Pierre Cornilleau, whilst actively structuring the company. Following the failure of negotiations regarding a major promotion with a chain of superstores who were solely focused on the pricing criteria, he announces his vision for the future: stopping selling to superstores and positioning the brand at the medium and top of the range whilst widening its scope to major specialist sports outlets and international clients. In fact, it was at this time that the current Commercial Director, François Robert, joined the company.
"Pierre, we need to stop selling to superstores"
A world champion brand ambassador
The ping-pong player, Jean-Philippe Gatien, Olympic No.2 in 1992 in Barcelona, becomes official ambassador of the brand. He immediately places his experience at the service of the company. A few months later, he wins the title of World Champion 1993 in Gothenburg. His list of achievements back then made him the best French table tennis player of all time. Between the Cornilleau company and ‘Philou’, a precious collaboration is formed for the upcoming innovations and the support of future champions...
"One of the keys to success relates to seeking new challenges, as for the rest, just trust us ..."
The compact table, Pierre’s stroke of genius
Constant innovation is the brand’s major asset. When the competition began to get more intense and the range of Cornilleau tables was struggling just that little bit more to make a name for itself, Pierre Cornilleau took innovation to a whole new level and pulled off a stroke of genius: the compact table. Once again, the brand had taken the Ping universe by storm with a major innovation designed to satisfy the demands of recreational ping-pong, particularly in terms of safety and ergonomics.
"I already had a few sketches in my desk drawers"
Late nineties, the Cornilleau adventure broadens its horizons
Globalisation is spreading increasingly quickly. Convinced that the route forward for the development of Cornilleau is international, Michel Zany decides to flesh out his teams and implement a genuine plan of action to conquer the export markets. Over the years, the Cornilleau products flourish right around the globe, with a presence today that spans 5 continents and over 80 countries. Laurent Colussi Corte, a genuine globetrotter, is the face and the architect behind Cornilleau’s overseas development.
"Your vehicle for development from the ouset has been export!"
From 2000, innovation extends to the tables and beyond!
The year 2000 and onwards were a pivotal period for the brand: Pierre Cornilleau took his well-deserved retirement and passed the reins to Michel Zany, who decided it was time to diversify the product range. A range of leisure rackets, like that of Jean-Philippe Gatien, were quickly put on the market. Five years later, Cornilleau, in collaboration with Michelin, became pioneers by developing a range of outdoor rackets made of polymer and elastomer composite materials. The then Technical Director, Stéphane Mithieux, is the great craftsman behind this TACTEO project. With this, the company further bolsters its position as a ping-pong specialist by offering an even more comprehensive and innovative range to the general public.
"We must continue to take risks."
Cornilleau takes the giant leap into competition
Having revolutionised the recreational ping-pong world, Cornilleau prepares to extend the brand’s influence at the highest level. In order to fine-tune its high-tech products for the competitor, the company recruits a team of marketing and R&D specialists, integrating Jean-Philippe Gatien into its marketing team at the same time. In 2010, Simon Gauzy joins Team Cornilleau. Hugo Calderano will do the same two years later. From then on, the support of these young athletes in their quest for excellence lies at the heart of the company’s concerns. Ranked among the best in the world today, Simon and Hugo fly the Cornilleau brand’s colours on all the world’s courts.
Genuine added value from sponsorship at Cornilleau, the support of athletes being an absolute priority for Jean-Philippe Gatien an Jean-René Mounié.
The product first and foremost!
In his day, Pierre Cornilleau and his team came up with some safe, functional innovations that were a real cut above the rest in terms of technological breakthroughs. Since then, this heritage has borne fruit by adding a real ‘design’ dimension to all our products. The latest range of outdoor Crossover tables launched in 2016 is the perfect illustration of this. The design has embodied the culture of the Cornilleau company for over fifteen years. By reasserting our design culture and placing it at the very core of our innovation strategy, we can only reinforce our image and our position as leader.
"The art of knowing how to combine form and function enables us to stand out from the crowd"
2019, More than ping
The year of its 50th birthday in table tennis, Cornilleau has written a new page in its history, again thanks to an innovation. After having turn ping pong into an outdoor game, it is now billiard that will be free from many constraints. With Hyphen, a shock and weather resistant pool table, new possibilities open up to fans of this game as well as those who do not yet play it. Convertible into a garden table with elegant lines, it is also intended for lovers of design and beautiful objects.
"Like ping pong, billiards should naturally be able to be played outdoors"