The death of the founder of Focus chimneys is “a blow of the sledgehammer” for his employees of Viols-le Fort

The Focus fireplace company, installed since the 1960s in Viols-le-Fort, lost its founder, Dominique Imbert, on Monday, September 6, at the age of 81. A disappearance that plunges the 110 employees into deep sadness.

It must be said that the relationship between Dominique Imbert and his employees is far from common. We first perceive a deep admiration for this autodidact, graduated with a doctorate in sociology, who revolutionized the world of the fireplace at the end of the 1960s. About ten years ago, he let go of the reins of his work. company by transmitting its shares to its employees. But it’s the personality of the man that his employees retain. “He was an extraordinary person, very human. It is a rare quality among business leaders. I think we were not just employees for him”, affirms one of them who speaks of Focus, as of a big family.

If Dominique Imbert no longer had any status within the company, he was never very far away. “He came by very often, especially before the covid period. We could already hear his dog coming, then he would come and go around the offices. He had a word for everyone.”, says another employee. “His disappearance is a blow to Karen.” She remembers that funny job interview with him. “After having had an appointment with the management, I was told that I still had to meet Dominique Imbert. I found myself at his house at the sheepfold. We were smoking cigarettes and I was talking about myself, about my children, from my past experiences. It was memorable “, she adds.

Dominique Imbert had kept an office within the company. Candles were placed there by employees to pay tribute to him. © Radio France
Virginie vandeville

Everyone who has crossed paths with him has a history with him

“I sincerely believe that everyone has their Dominic in them and all those who have crossed paths with him have a story with him. He had this gift there”, assures Jean-Marc Charlier, one of the two co-presidents of Focus. The entrepreneur has worked for 33 years with Dominique Imbert. If he does not omit the strong character of his elder, he keeps the image of a “second father”.

“Since Monday, I hear him in my ears telling me not to take care of him, to get things done. He was a free spirit, with an incredible life force and who gave confidence to others. last time I went to see him, he was hospitalized. The last thing he asked me was the results for July. It was all Dominique. His life was Focus, “ explains Jean-Marc Chalier.

One of his worries was to see the business end and see it leave Viols-le-Fort. A fear that is not ready to occur. The company has just bought a new cellar to create new premises in the village. When it comes to the production of new fireplaces, Focus has plenty to offer. “Dominique Imbert always had a role in creation. He left us drawings and projects. Projects that will materialize in the years to come”, says Jean-Marc Chalier.

A figure of the city disappears

In the village too, the emotion is also palpable. Like many employees, residents will go to the artist’s funeral this Friday. At the town hall, we also want the ceremony to be worthy of the missing man. “He will be greatly missed at Viols-le-Fort. He was someone who spoke to everyone. He saved the fort of the town by setting up his business there. And then his international influence made that there are a few Viols-le-Fort all over the world “, according to Anne Durand, the town councilor.

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