Born in Zacatecas, Mexico, Cesantoni has become a well-known brand when it comes to ceramic flooring design and accessories. A clear business strategy brings constant innovation to a competitive high-end market where the public demands the best, and Cesantoni delivers. Susana Baumann reports.
Recent trends in construction, remodeling and interior design show more preference for ceramic tiles in bathrooms and kitchens as well as reception areas, high-traffic zones, stairs and family rooms. Ceramic flooring is advantageous in regions where humidity and heat act against the durability of more vulnerable floors.
The tile industry has shown signs of recovery after the segment tumbled in the international markets during the beginning of the new century’s critical years. Improvement followed the expansion of the construction industry in the last six years with the increased effort of the Mexican government to boost housing developments.
“The ceramic tile industry has now a similar approach to the textile industry, where tendencies and trends are constantly changing to satisfy very demanding clients. Buyers are looking for new and unique designs, models and combinations, and are not satisfied with traditional lines,” said Julio Cesar Flores, marketing director of Cerámica Cesantoni S.A. de C.V., a company founded over 25 years ago in Zacatecas, state of Mexico.
The 100 percent Mexican-owned company hires 700 employees housed in two plants located in Cesantoni’s own industrial complexes. In addition, the company also owns its own limestone quarries and means of transportation, which adds considerable potential to what the company has to offer. Strategic location of these plants close to their source ensures the best supply of raw materials, which allows the company to maintain high quality standards and compete in pricing at national and international levels.
The company focuses on residential and institutional projects, targeting developers, construction professionals and others through its third-party distribution network. “We aim at a high-end market and we sell to specialty stores where consumers go for design, style and décor advice,” said Flores. Some of those distributors in Mexico include Plomería García, Grupo Curoda, El Surtidor y Pochito, in the states of Sonora, Aguascalientes, Campeche, Quintana Roo, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Mexico D.F., San Luis Potosi and Tamaulipas.
The company also targets hotel chains, large developers and specialty projects looking for special designs and customized flooring, finishes and accessories. “We have created special designs for university campuses and resort complexes with customized products that responded to clients’ demands,” Flores said.
Cesantoni’s excellent quality has reached outside Mexico. Currently, the company directly or indirectly exports 40 percent of its production to the United States, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Panama, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela. In the United States, Cesantoni´s products can be found in Laredo, McAllen, and San Antonio, Texas; Los Angeles, Calif., and Tucson, Ariz. Its excellence has been accepted abroad not only due to an ample variety of models but also because the company conforms to American and European standards such as ISO: 9000 and EN 179 BIGL.
WHAT IT DOES BEST
According to Flores, what separates Cesantoni from its competitors is the constant dedication to innovative products and technology. The company has developed a unique process, which grinds all dry materials together – similar to what is done in the concrete industry – and achieves a more homogeneous process where ingredients are evenly mixed.
Cesantoni’s production process is mostly vertically integrated as it works with its own red and white ceramic pastes, provided from its Zacatecas quarries. Whenever the company needs to acquire additional materials, it only works with first quality suppliers in bases and colors, which provide excellent and consistent ingredients and raw materials. In addition, the carefully supervised baking process is highly controlled by advanced Italian, German and American technology.
“The most difficult task in high-quality ceramic floors is to achieve very even pieces, not only in color and consistency but also in size and finish. To lay down a perfect floor, each piece has to be delicate and precise, and at Cesantoni, we aim at perfection,” he said.
A quality floor has to be exquisite in design but it also needs to achieve great durability, resistance, has to be free of defects, attain faultless measures and format, and needs to be perfectly flat. Cesantoni’s design department has a multidisciplinary team, which includes highly specialized engineers and chemists that are constantly working to improve product technology. The company’s test laboratory supervises a careful quality control process, from material mixing to gentle packaging in order to ensure best performance.
Cesantoni’s floors and wall coverings offer integral design solutions that create stylish residential or institutional surroundings. The products are offered in glossy, semi-glossy, rustic and mat finishes. The company also launched a wood imitation line that has had excellent response from Mexican consumers.
Designs vary from textures to stone finish. Colors offer a wide range from pastels to solids. Sizes of 43.2 by 43.2 centimeters, rectified 42.5 by 42.5 centimeters, 31 by 31 centimeters, and 30 by 60 centimeters, contribute to a great variety of arrangement possibilities. Slabs are squared, with or without chamfering, and with a variable number of engravings which, once laid, match perfectly in the joints. Decorated insert pieces can be used alternatively and have matching trims, borders or panels in a mix of different sizes and materials that create decorated interiors with contemporary or traditional looks.
The company recently launched the 2007 line of novelty flooring in a wide range of colors and textures that can be used as both floor or wall covering, such as Sahara, Congo, Cancun, Andorra, Mandela, Persia, Guinea, Tonala, Lapatto, Corcega, Dakar, Leonardo´s, Marraquesh, Atenas, Siberia y Bosco. For high-traffic and common areas, the company recommends lines such as Etrusco, Guinea, Atocha, Pirandello and Albarran. The Etrusco and Atocha lines come with anti-sliding finish specially designed for stairs and entrances.
In addition, all products are stain and chemical resistant, easy to lay, and highly resilient to high traffic, wear and tear, and scratching. Because these products are baked at very high temperatures –1090 to 1120 degrees Centigrade for wall covering and 1140 to 1185 degrees Centigrade for flooring – they are very resistant to sun damage and decoloration. Flores considers Cesantoni’s products offer an excellent price-value relation to its final consumer. The company experienced 40 percent growth in the last five years, increasing its monthly production to 500,000 square meters.
Cesantoni’s products are moderately priced compared to other competitors. While its quality is only comparable to Italian and Spanish imported floors, Cesantoni’s average price can reach M$180 per square foot while an imported floor might cost M$350 per square foot, which gives the consumer the option to buy great quality at reasonable prices.
Pricing is also being affected by Asian producers that have invaded the markets with direct and strong competition at very low prices. “They have introduced incredibly inexpensive products. However, their floors are very low quality, with defects and deformities, hard to work with and less durable. Asians do not comply with international quality standards and do not offer any type of guarantee or after-sale service. Cesantoni stands by its product, and offers the expertise, reliability and service of over 25 years experience in the industry,” Flores concluded.