‘It’s My Home Now.’ Olympus Corporation of the Americas President Discusses Lehigh Valley
By Colin McEvoy on October 15, 2021
Julien Sauvagnargues was born in the French Alps and spent most of his life in Europe before relocating to the United States nine years ago. He had little familiarity with the Lehigh Valley before becoming President of Olympus Corporation of the Americas, but quickly developed an affinity for the region.
“If you would have told me years ago, ‘Oh, you’re going to go live in the Lehigh Valley, I would never have believed you,” Sauvagnargues said. “… And then I decided to come here and I discovered the Lehigh Valley, and I liked it very much. It’s my home now; this is where my kids are growing up.”
Sauvagnargues was the interview subject in the latest entry in a weekly series the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) is conducting with new corporate leaders with some of Lehigh Valley’s leading companies and largest employers.
New videos are released each Thursday at 11 a.m. on LVEDC’s Facebook page. The next interview on Oct. 21 will feature Gunnar Brunius, Vice President & General Manager Lehigh Valley Operations of Mack Trucks.
The full video interview with Sauvagnargues can be viewed below. Current and previous archived videos can be found here and on LVEDC’s YouTube channel.
Olympus Corporation of the Americas, a subsidiary of the Tokyo-based Olympus Corporation, serves customer bases in both North and South America. It employs a total of about 5,500 people, including about 1,000 in the Lehigh Valley between its headquarters in Upper Saucon Township and a distribution center in Upper Macungie Township.
Although once widely known for its brand of cameras, Olympus solid its consumer imagine business in January 2021, and today about 90% of its sales are medical products such as endoscopes and gastroendoscopes, with the remaining 10% in the scientific solution business, Sauvagnargues said in the interview.
“There’s a good chance that anybody going for an endoscopy or any kind of scoping, the Olympus technology, the camera and imaging technology, is in that device,” said LVEDC President & CEO Don Cunningham, who conducted the interview. “It’s extraordinary the life-saving that’s taking place with these types of procedures; being able to enter into the body and detect problems before they become a problem.”
Sauvagnargues joined Olympus in France in 2006, and was named North American Vice President of Sales for Olympus Imaging Americas in 2012, before becoming President of Olympus Corporation of the Americas in 2020. He also serves on the LVEDC Board of Directors.
During the LVEDC interview, Sauvagnargues discussed such topics as how he and his company responded to the COVID-19 pandemic, the focus of Olympus Corporation of the Americas compared to the global company, the differences between American and European business environments, and future plans for the company in the next 2 to 3 years.
“I see Olympus in general, including the Americas, becoming a more and more patient-centric company,” he said. “… We have to continue to use innovation, to use our partnerships, to really bring value to the patient; to bringing a better life to the patients and to help our customers, our doctors, to do that.”
Sauvagnargues also discussed the challenges in finding skilled workers. He said the Lehigh Valley has a strong regional workforce and alignment of education to skills, and as a result, finding and attracting workers is not more difficult here than in other areas where Olympus Corporation of the Americas operates, such as Boston or California.
“I think that most of our employees are very attached to the Lehigh Valley, to the quality of living we have here,” he said. “Most of them live nearby the office, we don’t have a lot of people commuting long distance from New Jersey or even Philadelphia. Most of our employees live here.”
In addition to Brunius, other upcoming interviews in the video series will include Rick Bucher, Chief Executive Officer of Victaulic; and Sarah Santos, President of Cigars International. Past interviews have highlighted such companies as Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania, Lehigh Valley Plastics, and PPL Electric Utilities.
LVEDC had also launched an initial series of 10 video interviews in the fall of 2020.
Sponsors for the series include presenting sponsor Lehigh Valley Health Network; premier sponsor Capital BlueCross; gold sponsor Fitzpatrick Lentz & Bubba; event sponsors Boyle Construction, Klunk & Millan Advertising, Olympus Corporation of the Americas, interview sponsor Victaulic, and production sponsor Countess Communications.
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