Maxime Lefebvre, bakery entrepreneur in Amiens, who does not fit “in shape”

As a baker and entrepreneur, through an apprenticeship and inspired by strong figures, Maxime heads three companies consisting of a team of sixty employees. A character whose story marked our journalist Thibaut Rysman, here is his portrait.

To understand Maxime you must see him or hear him, otherwise you must read him, but to read him you must imagine someone who speaks with the right words, all imbued with a conviction that does not betray innocence.

Max is a machine! An entrepreneurial machine convinced that its best raw material is humans. Today, at the helm of three stores for sixty employees, he is determined to give back everything that people have already brought him.

Our interview takes place by phone on the way home … 1h30 between Amiens and Gouvieux. 1h30 that I regret not having taken to restore the purity of your convictions.

Maxime was born in Compiègne on July 11, 1986. He is therefore 35 years old. He is a sensitive. A very sensitive. The little one is restless, a little different, outside the frame.

I was not in the mold. I had very bad grades in school. I was overweight from 13 to 20 years old. I was beaten regularly. With the voilou girls … All that became with me like an engine for revenge. I had a choice with suicide, I chose revenge!

Maxime lived until he was 17 in Béthisy-Saint-Martin, Oise. He has three brothers and a sister. The family environment is tough. Although the love of family is present, the words to express it do not exist. And this expressed lack of love will appear as revenge throughout this story. Her father suffered from a degenerative brain disease that was not known at the time. A kind of violent Alzheimer’s.

It was a lot of pain for us. I still blame myself a lot because the first behavior of his illness was not put into words. We were tough on him. Looking back, I tell myself that if my kids behaved like that with me, I really would not feel good.“.

Very quickly, and like his brother, he wanted independence. This is where one of the first men in her life shows up.

My uncle ! A chef. A kind of different father to me. I was very jealous of my brother’s relationship with him. I wanted to draw his attention to me to help me get started with the baker. It took me a while to realize that I was not stupid. The head of the bakery Béthisy took me as an apprentice and there I got a big blow to the head. 3.00 to 15.00. At 2am when I left, I had to cry in my mother’s bed to stop going to work.

And despite that, he did not stop. Take a moment to imagine the image. A 14-year-old boy with a sick father, in a small village who lives very badly with his obesity. Harassed by his friends, who are crying at 2am at the foot of his mother’s bed to stop learning.

And despite that, he did not stop. Because in the family there was a value of work. On the weekends, the sibling couple helped the parents who raised cocker spaniels. They took care of the kennels.

As an 18-year-old, he left the bakery to take part in the mass distribution. A parenthesis that ended in a fight. Maxime then returns to the bakery with the encounter with the other man in his life: François Bigot, son of Maurice Bigot, butcher in the Pierrefonds.

There I met a spiritual big brother. François is the artisan entrepreneur par excellence. I saw a role model in him. He taught me to love work. The contribution of essential values: improvement and sharing. Working with Bigots does not leave you indifferent. You know, learning is not talked about enough in France, but once it is well taken care of, you can save children and complete their education for life. The Bigot values, it’s me trying to transfer them now.

Passage at Boulangerie Paul – where he rejects a proposal to become director of the company – then in a company that sells heat pumps. Do you want to learn the sale … Here we offer him again to climb very fast. He refuses. Return to Pierrefonds on Bigot with an idea in mind.

I started my business selling bread and cakes in the market. François made, I sold. I sold my BMW for a Trafic. I did five markets: Gouvieux, Senlis, Compiègne, Crépy-en-Valois and Thourotte. Then I went to a banker without knowing what a forecast was. I managed to get 100,000 euros.

Maxime then sets up a bakery in an apartment in Saintines, Oise, to manufacture his own products. He manufactured at night to sell during the day. From 22.00 to 16.00 the next day tirelessly, for three years, helped by his little brother. Maxime will control its chain from start to finish.

Starting so low allowed me to sharpen my senses in all areas. I want people to love me and say good things about me. It does not make me happy, but it does allow me to move on.

In 2012, due to his experience and with money in his pocket, he bought a bakery in Gouvieux. Here we are. This is the beginning of the great adventure. He sells his products but also unites a huge emotional energy around him. As the children passed in front of his shop, they said to their mistress: “Here we are at Maxiiiime“, and with good reason, every time they came to the store with their parents, he offered them a little chocolate. Who does not have this memory of the grocer giving a candy or a piece of chocolate?

On Sundays, I regularly arranged mass excursion buffets. I drank cannons with the pastor and the believers while eating oysters or charcuterie. But I still had a frustration. Me who likes to make contact, spend time with customers, I wanted a place to stay. A place where people what I sell can eat it on the spot.

Direction Amiens. Not confident enough to venture Paris … There he opened rue de Noyon his first Maxime Boulangerie. Customers can eat what they buy on site. Salads, sandwiches, cakes, etc. He quadruples the turnover of the former Brichet bakery.

In 2016, by chance, this concept was not very present … If at all. It worked right away. I go from three employees to fourteen. I can still see myself telling my teams that they are important in people’s lives. If you’re kind to customers, people will necessarily talk about you.

When he wanted to develop the catering aspect a little more, he opened a new store in Longueau in 2019 … Four months before the first confinement! Here we go into the true catering concept with an all-you-can-eat buffet and large comfortable sofas under dim lighting. We would forget that we are in the middle of a commercial zone. In 2021, it opens its third store on Place Gambetta with all-you-can-eat brunch. Restoration was given such an important role that he opened a production workshop in Amiens Nord financed by his own shops. He currently employs sixty people including his mother.

I end up asking him why he never stops. Why not be happy with what he created.

Well, it’s like when I was overweight! For if I had accepted myself, I would have remained overweight all my life. I still want to show those who made me angry that they were the ones who made mistakes. And when you then discover nuggets of gold in the business, then people who have joined and well must offer them prospects. Right now I have a young baker named Julien. I love the idea of ​​watching him grow. I would like to offer him perspectives. These young people, if we love them as a father with his sons, can move mountains. The best elements in me are those who have had difficult journeys.

In 2017, Maxime fell in love with the product also thanks to the third man in his life: Thierry Delabre, now dead. Thierry was a type 2 diabetic. He loved to bake bread, but he could not eat it. Except his … He made bread for his neighbors. Thanks to this meeting, Maxime has continued to work on its quality, especially with the ingredients. He uses old sourdough.

And this quality is part of his future projects. Create a franchise where artisans are located near stores. The ambition is colossal: to open twenty stores within five years. As well as a desire to enter the hotel industry with breakfast that was to replace dinner by candlelight.

Maxime never stops. When he finally gets home, after staying 20 minutes in front of the house, he is about to find his wife Laurence (former client at Gouvieux and mother of Inès at 10 years old) and his 2 little boys Marceau at 5 years old, and Jules, 4 years.

I end the discussion by asking him if he sets boundaries or if his plans to open stores are endless.

If I give myself a number, I limit myself. I hate boundaries. I do not want to go beyond what the values ​​can absorb. The common thread will always be quality and customer satisfaction. It is crucial. But in 15 years I will definitely still need people to love me!

Leave a Comment