IBRAP and Esaf have been supplying the Brazilian construction industry for over 60 years. Having successfully weathered the once unstable economy, the company is now enjoying the calm after the storm as one of the leaders in the production of aluminum and plastic components for building and engineering. Sales director Ronaldo Guollo speaks to Reuben Ford.
Our business is separated into two areas,” Guollo begins. IBRAP, or Industria
Brasileira de Aluminum e Plásticos is responsible for the production of screens, roof tiles, large plastic bottles for mineral water, and water tanks. ESAF, Esquadria de Aluminum Fornasa (Geraldo Fornasa has been the sole owner of the company since 1979) manufactures door and window frames as well as shutters and shower cubicles
in strong and durable aluminum.
The company, which is located in Urussanga in the state of Santa Catarina occupies a 195,000 square meters. The 22,000-squaremeter facility employs over 500 staff directly in both sectors. The metalwork factory is larger, measuring 12,000 square meters, with
The capacity of the units and the variation of products are a result of steady growth over the last few years. “Up until 1996 business was extremely volatile,” explains Guollo. “Inflation in Brazil was very high and no contracts were secure. It was very difficult to make any projections or plans. After 1997 things improved, and the last five years have presented no real problems at all.”
A PIONEER IN RECYCLING
In 2001, IBRAP began producing screens in a wide variety of finishes from recycled waste plastics known as Polyethylene Terephthalete (PET). The translucent screens are used in shower cubicles and windows. This marked an important stage, not only in the development of the company, but in the industry. It was a process that no other had achieved in Brazil before that time.
The use of environmentally friendly PET led to the creation of a line of 20 liter plastic bottles, which are also returnable for re-use. The ecological programs in the plastics sector inspired ESAF to recycle aluminum also; left over waste is returned to recycling
companies for re-use. As a pioneer in the use of PET, IBRAP proved not only its competence in the industry, but also its concern for the environment.
Together with this innovation, and the stabilizing of the Brazilian economy, IBRAP continued to grow. The tile manufacturer Tileton was acquired in 2006, which opened a new area of the construction market for the company. Polypropolene tiles and sheet
roofing now account for a substantial part of the company’s plastic products.
“The construction industry has been one of the most affected by the recent boom in Brazil,” says Guollo. “The amount of foreign investment in property has been very high in recent times.” New buildings and renovations are good news for IBRAP, as 80 percent of the company’s clients are construction companies. The other 20 percent of business is comprised of builders’ suppliers and home stores.
The main regions supplied are in the south east of the country. “Our biggest market is definitely Sao Paulo,” explains Guollo, “followed by Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais.” With new residential and commercial buildings all over these states, IBRAP has grown to accommodate demand. In 2007, the company grew by 12 to 15 percent and Guollo predicts similar figures for 2008.
Despite the recent surge, the company is careful to keep abreast of the business climate. Particularly in the metals industry, IBRAP and ESAF professionals attend trade fairs in Europe, Asia and China. “In May we went to an important event in Spain, which displayed the latest door and window frames, and the technology involved in their production. It is essential for us to go out and look for these new trends in the market,” says Guollo. The company also participates in regional and national fairs, such as the annual FEICON civil construction trade fair in Sao Paulo.
The technology and machinery used is developed in part by IBRAP and ESAF. In the plastics area, specific qualities of plastic have been produced for use in shower cubicles. A team of civil and mechanical engineers work on each process and product line.
“There are approximately 200 products that are made only by IBRAP,” says Guollo. The raw materials for such products are supplied exclusively by companies such as CBA and Alcoa, manufacturers of aluminum bars, and Duratex and Guardia, who produce sheets of glass. “We purchase all of the materials in their raw state,” confirms Guollo.
The company prides itself on being well integrated. Aside from sheet metal, glass and petrochemicals for the plastics industry, only accessories such as window latches are purchased. The parts are all cut, stamped and mounted at the facility.
“There is nothing too revolutionary about working with metal,” explains Guollo. “Despite advances in technology, the pieces must still be manually worked on. The aluminum can be cut and treated, as can glass, but you still need a person to put the parts together.” The plastics industry has become more automated. IBRAP has
invested heavily in imported machinery, to which certain adjustments are made internally for specific products and parts.
For PET products, the material, purchased from specialized companies who collect and pre-treat recycled material, is washed and dried at IBRAP.
Concern for the industry is one of the factors accountable for the success of the company in Guollo’s opinion. “We are focused on a complete service, and care for every stage of the process,” he says. As well as investing in the best quality materials, machinery and manufacturing processes, clients are briefed thoroughly on the product before purchase, and a full after-sales service is offered.
In fact, all of the company’s 37 representatives around Brazil are also technicians with years of experience. “We have steadily progressed from the early days, in 1979 and 1980 when the company offered technical assistance and engineering services to the complete range of products we offer today.”
The expansion of business, and in particular of the metal industry, over the last eight years has brought growth and recognition to IBRAP and ESAF. A pioneer in its field, and keen not to rely on the economy alone, the company is constantly evolving, investing in and developing new products to attend the needs of a growing market.