All started with Charles Gueudet who was building sewing-machines and bicycles in his workshop in Breteuil-sur-Noye, France. Charles created his company in 1880 and soon worked with two of his sons, Gustave and Lucien. Gustave Gueudet is a self-made man with an entrepreneurial spirit while his brother Lucien is an engineer who graduated from the prestigious French school of Arts et Métiers. When the first cars appear, the Gueudet brothers quickly understand that this will revolutionize the world, and they decide to invest all they have in a car business. The story says that Gustave Gueudet and car maker Louis Renault, founder and CEO of Renault, met on a road of northern France while Mr. Renault had some mechanical problems that were fixed by Gustave Gueudet himself, and the two men who kept in touch soon decided to do business together.
In any event, Gustave Gueudet and Louis Renault sign their first distribution contract in 1920. At the time, Gustave is committed to sell four cars a year. He and Lucien Gueudet decide to create a true network of garages and distribution centers throughout northern France. In 1922, they inaugurate in Amiens Le Palais de l'Automobile, which is then considered as a great example of what a nice and modern garage should be.
Throughout the years, the Gueudet brothers make their company more and more prosperous, but World War II occurs and most of the garages and dealerships owned by the family are destroyed. After the War, Gustave and Lucien Gueudet decide to start almost all over again with the help of Gustave's son, Robert, born in 1910. In addition, they expand the business to new activities, such as people transportation with the creation of two companies called Les Autobus Artésiens, and Les Courriers Automobiles Picards. Also, the Gueudets get involved in agricultural materials, trucks, buses, and gas distribution.
The Gueudet Group becomes one of the most important companies in its field, regionally, but also nationally. In 1956, Gustave Gueudet is decorated Knight of the Legion of Honor by the French Government. In 1959, Gueudet organizes the first tractor race in the country.
In 1960, the Gueudet Group is divided into two parts. The first part contains the car distribution activities and all that goes with it, and is owned and managed by Gustave Gueudet and his son Robert Gueudet, while the second part contains the transportation activities and is owned and managed by Lucien Gueudet and his son-in-law Pierre Amiaud, an engineer from the Ecole Centrale des Arts et Manufactures in Paris.
In 1966, Robert Gueudet dies at only 55 years old and lets his father Gustave alone as the head of the company. Gustave Gueudet has to rethink his succession plan and designates a general manager outside from the family. Gustave dies 4 years later in the French Riviera at age 89, after having dedicated all his life to the development and the prosperity of the family business he transformed and took to a leading position.
After a transition period, two of Robert Gueudet's sons, Jean-Claude and Patrick, became heads of the Gueudet Group in 1980. The two brothers continue to develop the business and besides Renault become partners of other car manufacturers, such as BMW, Opel (owned by GM), Nissan, Toyota, Audi, Volkswagen, and Mini. At some point, the family group becomes the third car distributor in France in terms of turnover, and the first group that is 100% family-owned. Meanwhile, Patrick Gueudet, a graduate of HEC Lausanne Business School in Switzerland, creates several computer programs related to car distribution, which help to improve customer service quite significantly. One of those programs is even sold to Diac, Renault's financial company. As a result, the Gueudet Group is seen in France as a "computer pioneer." Similarly, the company is the first of its kind to create its own website as early as 1995.
By order of the President of the French Republic, Patrick Gueudet, like his grandfather almost fifty years earlier, is named Knight of the Legion of Honor on 31 December 2004. Three months later, he is decorated in Paris during a private ceremony.