Do come, all is not lost if you come. It's for you to save what our fathers passed down to us.' Thus, legend has it, wrote Emilie Barbier to her nephew, Edouard Michelin. The year was 1886; the occasion, a meeting to discuss the future of the failing family firm. Edouard did come and was appointed managing director. He would need half a million francs, he told his aunt, and she put the money at his disposal - but not before ensuring a room would be hers at a convent should the investment fail!The Michelin Men tells the remarkable story of how two brothers Edouard and Andr Michelin turned a troubled family firm in the heart of rural France into one of the most successful business empires in the world. Edouard, a landscape painter at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, displayed a genius for engineering and product innovation, whilst Andr, trained as an engineer, revealed an artistic genius for advertising and marketing. 'Here is the champagne. I am the bubbles', said Andr Michelin introducing brother Edouard. Together they kick-started the world automobile industry and gave us one of the most famous and best loved company logos - Bibendum, the 'Michelin Man'. In their determination to conquer the British market they gave London one of its best loved buildings - Michelin House. Opened by Andr Michelin in 1911, the building was a clear statement of their ambitions to outdo their long-term rivals, Dunlop. Meanwhile, in America, the brothers passionate advocates of the latest US management and production techniques - declared their global ambitions with a Michelin facility at Milltown, New Jersey. In their search for new ways to publicise and market their products, they created a tourist industry around the motor car and their now legendary Michelin Guides. It was the Michelin Guide that US officers carried with them in their kit when they landed on the Normandy beaches in June 1944 - complete with its listings of the best food, good wines and peaceful hotels. And today the Michelin Guides are more influential than ever, setting standards for the culinary world that can make or break chefs as they strive to keep their rating or acquire the coveted third star. With its larger-than-life characters and compelling story, The Michelin Men is an exciting tale of one of France's great companies and two of her more remarkable sons.
Driving an Empire