Look to real estate in Rio de Janeiro. Among the leading construction companies in one of the world's most exotic cities, Calçada SA has conquered the market through quality. Reuben Ford reports on building a reliable and respected brand.
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With extensive experience in the property market, project management and construction, Calçada Empreendimentos Imobiliários SA operates in diverse segments of the industry. Its buildings are distinguished by meticulous attention to detail and design adapted to the Carioca (Rio de Janeiro) lifestyle.
The company started small but has always thought big and as it celebrates its 30th anniversary, the family business has earned its place among the region’s leaders.
Calçada follows the slogan “the art of construction” and the firm principles of its founder, José Carlos de Matos – having constructed more than one million square meters of residential and commercial buildings in Brazil’s cultural capital.
“We have learned from the strength, dedication, hard work and careful strategy of our founder that we can never compromise on company values: Quality, punctual completion of projects, investment and surpassing expectations,” affirms President of Calçada SA, João Paulo Rio Tinto de Matos.
Marks on the Landscape
Calçada’s history began in 1983, when José Carlos de Matos founded Carmo Construction Company in Rio de Janeiro. Three years later he founded Calçada, a second enterprise in the same industry sector, with different partners.
The retrofitting of the well-known Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Building in Rio’s downtown Cinelândia district was the first mark Calçada made on the city’s landscape. The art deco building, known locally as ‘Amarelinho,’ is located opposite the National Theater and recognized as a historical and cultural reference. The project was awarded the ADEMI (Brazilian Association of Directors in the Property Market) Prize for Restoration and Re-Use.
“In 2004, we completed our first building: The Península Residencial Monet in Barra da Tijuca, one of Rio’s most elegant neighborhoods. The large, spacious, luxury apartments were a huge success and set the standard for our construction projects to come,” João Paulo Matos says. Calçada was a pioneer in building in this first ecological city district in Brazil. The Península comprises 360 dwellings ranging from 140 to 434 square meters, some two-floor apartments and others with a characteristic double-height ceiling in the living room.
Carmo and Calçada operated individually until 2008, with founder and patriarch of the de Matos family, José Carlos de Matos, on the board of both. In this year however, his associate partner at Carmo passed away and he decided Calçada should buy the company, becoming Calçada SA. The change catalyzed growth with the launch of the first new residential building in Tijuca in ten years; The Renaissance.
Calçada’s construction is focused in the Tijuca, Barra da Tijuca and Recreio dos Bandeirantes districts of the city. “We are studying the possibility of future projects in Macaé (a municipality 100 miles from Rio de Janeiro capital) – but are involved in important developments in the state capital’s upscale neighborhoods,” João Paulo Matos confirms.
A Structured Response
As Brazil demands investment in infrastructure, construction companies are all in pursuit of the best technology and techniques. For Calçada, this is standard. Matos explains that the company’s significant differences lie in punctuality and quality: “Our strength is our word – our promise. The market relies on us.”
Calçada employs 1,300 staff and, depending on existing projects has up to 2,800 working on construction sites. These additional contractors are responsible for areas such as of plumbing and hydraulic systems, electrical installations and painting.
The company’s projects include residential and commercial office buildings. “We operate in two niche markets. The size and location of our offices and apartments automatically select an upscale buyer or investor,” Matos says. Calçada’s apartments have a minimum of two bedrooms and prices range from 500,000 Brazilian Reais ($200,000) to 4 million Brazilian Reais ($1.5 million).
The complete construction project from start to finish is overseen and managed by Calçada. Some technology and equipment is self-owned, some outsourced and raw materials are purchased from trusted partners and suppliers. Each site has a mobile administration office, but work is coordinated from Calçada’s head offices in Barra da Tijuca, Rio de Janeiro.
“Our reaction to opportunity occurs in two stages. Firstly real estate specialists carry out surveys and analyses of potential locations. These surveys include the commercial viability of the area and prospective market studies. Following agreeable results, the second stage is the purchase of the land, finalization of the plans and construction,” Matos explains.
Making it Big
The construction industry, especially in Brazil’s state capitals, is highly competitive and Calçada works with a specific market sector. Despite this, Administrative Director, Luis Carlos Matos points out that “even though the frontrunners are open capital companies, and Calçada is a closed capital organization, we compete on even ground.”
The proof is in the numbers: Annual growth averages 20 percent. Figures released by the company show total annual sales rising steadily from $23 million in 2006 to over $1 billion in 2014. From 2010 Calçada experienced a sharp increase in sales thanks to an increase in the number of projects. Matos, however, also attributes growth to the same essential characteristics: “Quality, punctuality and customer service that are a cut above the competition.”
Customer service extends to organized visits of the site at varying stages of construction. In order for the buyer to accompany his/her investment, three different open days with breakfast are offered where there is the opportunity to observe progress and meet with staff and engineers. The meetings are representative of Calçada’s hands-on, family approach to delivering a specialist service with a personal touch. Customer satisfaction at open days is 83 percent.
Thanks to strong differentials and operation in the mid- to high-end markets, President João Paulo Matos is confident that Brazil’s faltering economy will not affect sales. “Our growth shows no sign of slowing down, we keep a watchful eye on our sector to adjust launch and investment strategies accordingly,” he says.
From humble beginnings, Calçada has made it big. Building on a scale comparable to Rio de Janeiro’s leaders, it has grown by 1,150 percent in the last ten years without losing the closeness to its clients or its sensibility with the market.
As well as commitment to its clients, the company invests and participates in social and environmental programs in support of creating a better world.
As a result, the Calçada brand is a seal of respect – a guarantee for those in search of a secure investment.