However, as Director Marcelo Venturoso tells Michael Sommers, a flood of new competitors have led the company to go on the offensive, branching into untapped segments and developing new products that are both, literally and figuratively, cutting-edge.
Sometimes the seeds one sows yield unexpected harvests. Such is the case for Venturoso, Valentini, & Cia. One of Brazil’s leading manufacturers of forged and stamped parts for agricultural equipment, the company began when an entrepreneur named Ezio Venturoso started a solo venture as a refrigerator repairman. Venturoso lived in São Joaquim da Barra, a small town in the interior of São Paulo state known for the cultivation of coffee, cotton, and more recently, soya and sugar cane. Because of the importance of agriculture, Venturoso soon decided to expand from fridge repair into fixing tractors and farming equipment as well.
Venturoso found a partner, Ronaldo Valentini, and together the two invested in a small mechanical shop. When, shortly into their new endeavor, they realized that scarcity of spare equipment parts was a major problem, they took matters into their own hands and decided to started making their own forged parts. Joining forces with a third partner – Pedro Mardeli, who had significant experience with forging and casting processes – they moved into a larger industrial facility, with a foundry, and in 1969, Venturoso, Valentini and Cia (VV) was born.
A MARKET LEADER
It was only in the 1990s, however, that the small company began to really take off. In 1995, the Plano Real – the measure responsible for introducing Brazil’s current currency, the real – brought the country’s runaway inflation to an end and ushered in a period of economic stability that allowed Brazilian companies to invest – and to grow. VV did both. That same year, the company fully automated its foundry, which up until then had been operated manually. In 2000, it implanted an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system that integrated the company’s internal and external management information. In 2003, it built an entirely new facility dedicated to metal stamping (today, the majority of VV’s items consist of stamped parts) and, in 2004, it constructed another new plant, devoted to machining.
As a result of all these investments – along with the acquisition of new equipment and technology, the cultivation of a cohesive and highly-trained team of 450 professionals, and an aggressive pursuit of new clients – VV has seen its revenues more than double over the last 10 years. Today, the company, whose facilities total 75,500 square feet in constructed area, boasts an annual production capacity of 9 million parts and an extensive catalogue of over 3,000 different items. Although it makes parts for everything from trucks and tractors to foragers and combines, the company’s strong suit is harvesters, which account for around 60 percent of its business.
“We are particularly strong in terms of cutting sections for harvesters, such as blades and knife sections,” admits Marcelo Venturoso, managing director and grandson of founder Ezio. Indeed, VV’s main client list includes all the leading players in the agricultural equipment segment, including John Deere, New Holland, Case, and AGCO. Apart from supplying raw forged parts to DMB and Ebara, it also possesses some major retailers as clients as well. “Meanwhile, we’re also growing a lot in terms of forged and machined parts for trucks and tractors. We supply to assemblers for both Volkswagen and Mercedes, for example, and recently acquired DANA as a client as well.”
CONFRONTING THE COMPETITION
VV has always been a leading player in the Brazilian market, especially in terms of harvester parts. “At one point, we had captured around 80 percent of the market,” notes Venturoso. “Today, however, there are many more competitors that have entered the segment, so our market share is closer to 50 percent. And yet, we’re still a major reference when it comes to original parts. We have a very strong reputation in terms of the quality of our products as well as our services. Customers know that they can count on our items, but they also know that if there is ever a problem, they are guaranteed a replacement (or a refund) as quickly as possible.”
Leveraged by its know-how and reputation, VV is determined to make up for lost market share in segments invaded by newcomers by branching out into markets it has hitherto left untapped. It was with this goal in mind that, in 2006, the company achieved ISO-9001 certification and began in earnest going after the trucking and tractor segment. More recently, it earned certification to supply parts to Brazil’s naval sector (so far, only small-scale vessels) and it’s taking steps to play a role in Brazil’s extremely promising oil and gas sector. Not only did VV recently receive certification to supply to the UNIP (the National Organization of Petroleum Industries), but it’s also close to meeting standards that will allow it to become a supplier to Brazilian petroleum giant, Petrobras.
Concurrently, VV is making a renewed effort to extend its reach internationally as well. Although the company has long exported products to other countries throughout South America, more recently it’s also become a supplier to New Holland in both the U.S. and Europe. As it is, exports presently account for roughly 10 percent of total revenues.
At the same time as VV strives to tap into unexplored markets, it’s also investing heavily in creating new and improved products. The company recently established a new product development division, with the goal of incorporating the latest technology to ensure it remains at the forefront of the market. “We’re very tuned into what’s going on because in this industry you can’t fall behind,” confesses Venturoso. “Assemblers are constantly developing new technology and we make a big effort to be in close contact with them so we can keep up with their changing needs. In terms of harvesters, for instance, the cutting and grain separation sections are changing significantly. We always have to be adapting our parts, creating new items as old ones become obsolete.”
“Ultimately, needs and technology may change, but what remains constant is our determination to always supply high quality parts that meet – in every way possible – the demands of our clients,” declares Venturoso. “In this way, we remain true to the spirit of VV’s founders who always worked to meet their obligations to their employees, their clients, and to the community at large.”