The Société d’Application des Méthodes MODernes d’Éclairage électrique (SAMMODE) was founded by Louis Lemaire in October in Châtillon-sur-Saône, at the foot of the Vosges Mountains, on the border between the Haute-Saône and the Haute-Marne regions. The electrification of France that had begun in the late 19th century was continuing apace, and the need for electric lighting was spreading to homes, offices and manufacturing sites. M. Malcailloz, a Parisian engineer, was the company’s first director, succeeded a few years later by Henri Clout. The office desktop lamp, highly appreciated for its simplicity and robustness, was among Sammode’s best-sellers.
Sammode’s head office moved from the rue Compans to the boulevard Richard Lenoir, also in the 11th arrondissement of Paris, where it remained until 1982. The location of its head office in Paris better enabled the company to negotiate contracts with major customers in industry as well as public and private administrations and to coordinate its sales agents, who crisscrossed France with Sammode catalogues. During the challenging period of the Great Depression, the family-owned enterprise concentrated production in the area of technical industrial and office lighting, gradually abandoning the segment of decorative home lighting. One of the most successful Sammode products from this period was the particularly resistant, high-performance porthole lamp in enamelled cast iron.
Sammode lost both its founder, Louis Lemaire, and its CEO, Henri Clout. Jacques Gagnez, the son-in-law of Louis Lemaire, was asked to take over the management of the family business. He decided to focus production on high-performance functional lighting with a long life cycle, qualities which ensured Sammode’s reputation and the loyal following of its major industrial customers. To meet the rising demand for fluorescent light fixtures, Sammode acquired its first press break. The strategy of concentrating on high-end resistant technical lighting bore fruit, notably thanks to the advice and intervention of marketing consultant Lucien Hanicotte, who introduced Sammode to the decision makers of the steel mills in Dunkirk.
The success of its hermetic fluorescent tube (the “TFH”), with its many applications in difficult environments (mines, steel mills, railway maintenance shops, power plants, petrol refineries, etc.), enabled Sammode to accelerate its development to become the first French manufacturer to create and mass produce electrical light fixtures conforming to the new European Safety Standards. The enhanced safety TFH, known as the TFS “e”, ensured a thriving business with industrial companies possessing listed installations. In 1979, Thierry Gagnez succeeded his father as CEO. He continued to implement Sammode’s winning strategy, capitalising on the company’s know-how in upmarket industrial and office lighting and the potential of its robust and resistant tubular light fixtures. Sammode gradually and systematically upgraded its manufacturing equipment, with for example the acquisition of its first numerically controlled lathe 1984.
On the 16th of November, fire destroyed the historic Sammode factory in Châtillon-sur-Saône. The company’s shareholders decided to rebuild its production facilities in the same town and to entirely modernise its machine tools and equipment. One year later, when the teams moved into the new production site, Sammode fully entered the modern era. It was not long before Sammode was successfully up and running again, notably in the area of architectural lighting, winning the contract to equip the Grande Halle de la Villette in Paris (former abattoir transformed into concert and convention venue), followed in 1994 with its participation at the request of Dominique Perrault and Gaëlle Lauriot-Prévost in the lighting systems of the Grande Bibliothèque Nationale de France François Mitterrand. In parallel, Sammode strengthened its standing as a specialist in industrial lighting, exporting its lighting systems across Europe (to Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany…), as well as to the Middle East and Africa via delivery of turnkey petrochemical factories and desalinisation plants.
The company continues to rapidly expand in all its areas of application: industry, agribusiness, public infrastructure as well as signature architect buildings. A policy of constant product improvement and innovative solution design, adapted to the increasingly challenging requirements of its clientele underpins the company’s robust development. Sammode’s active participation in the renovation of the lighting systems of France’s nuclear power plants testifies to the company’s expertise in the conception of functional, durable, high added value technical lighting solutions. Sammode has woven close ties of partnership with major industrial companies to equip their specific installations (the SNCF’s inspection pits for its TGVs, tunnels, car parks, etc.). In 2009, Emmanuel Gagnez, who joined the Sammode management team in 2003, took over the reins of the family business, following in his father’s footsteps. In Châtillon-sur-Saône, the teams follow each other, from one generation to the next, ensuring Sammode’s exceptional stability, marked by their unique attachment and loyalty to a company that remains independent and highly regarded for its rigour in the design and manufacturing of lighting products.