The world was a different place in the early 1960s, when Gravia, then a small metal sheet factory, opened for business in Brazil’s new federal capital. Helen Larkin investigates how this family-run business has been ahead of the game at every turn, supplying the world of construction with the best in quality and care.
The Gravia Group companies, winner of the SESI 2006 prize, are strategically split into four segments: Gravia Doors and Windows, Gravia Profile Industry, Gravia Electrical Hardware, and Gravia Distribution. With high-tech compatibility software in place, the four companies are able to streamline their processes and maintain constant communication and information sharing, while keeping the Gravia vision of excellence alive as they grow.
Gravia was created in the very same year that Brasilia, a town in Brazil’s northwestern interior, became the country’s new federal capital. Gravia boasts “We were born with Brasilia. We grew with Brazil.”
The year was 1961, and two Portuguese brothers, Carlos and Jose Gravia, made their way inland from Sao Paulo to this new center of Brazilian government. “My father and uncle were two of 11 siblings, and left Portugal for Brazil during the hardships that followed the second world war,” explains Edilene Gravia, the company’s current International Business Director and daughter to founder Carlos Gravia. “They left the coast for Brasilia, anticipating the need for civil construction in the new city. At the time, my father worked in merchandise delivery, and my uncle was a metal welder. They decided to team up. My father sold the truck and was then able to provide the start-up money, while my uncle provided the technical know-how. And that’s how the Gravia Group was born.”
The town of Brasilia had only been under construction for five years and was quite the endeavor; the vision was to create not only a town but the nation’s new capital, drawing business, industry and power away from the two former capitals of Rio de Janeiro and Salvador da Bahia, and into the arid interior. The Gravia brothers anticipated industry trends and needs and settled in the young
Brasilia to open a small sheet metal shop based on a corporate philosophy of excellence in quality, and respect for the customer. Brasilia, then referred to as the ‘Capital of Hope,’ began to grow rapidly in the 1970s, and Gravia was there to participate in this growth and provide services. The small company began to expand activities to serve the boom in civil construction, and also began to sell commercial
hardware from two separate stores. As Gravia explains, “They really built up a solid reputation for themselves by sticking to the core principles of shipping and delivering quality products on time, and from this early dedication were able to grow into the biggest metallurgic company in the middle eastern part of Brazil.”
As the 1980s began, Gravia had proven itself a leader in the metallurgic industry through its work in the Brazilian Federal District, only a barren construction site when the two Gravia brothers had first set foot on the arid soil of the country’s interior. Ready to expand and build on this trust that they had gained in the national market, in 1985, Gravia inaugurated its steel frame factory – Gravia Doors and Windows – in the city of Anapolis, located in the state of Goias, about 120 kilometers from Gravia’s headquarters in Brasilia.
The 1990s were a period of great change for the ever-expanding Gravia Group. Based on their success and the prestige they had built in their years of work in the metallurgic sector, the Gravia Group “had gained the confidence and know-how necessary to launch our own stores, selling our own products,” says Gravia. There are now four Gravia stores located in six cities around Brasilia.
As they strategically stopped working directly in civil construction, Gravia’s two industrial units in the Federal District were incorporated into the Gravia Profile Industry. The ensuing increase in production of tubes, profiles, metallic roof tiles, and folded metal sheets, as well as the jump into serving the needs of builders, industries, sheet metal shops, and other businesses, proved timely and exciting for the Gravia Group.
Today, Gravia is ever-expanding from its home base in Midwestern Brazil to the rest of the country. Having received ISO: 9001 certification, Gravia Doors and Windows are ready for what’s to come. With new technologies that best allow the country to coordinate activities and productivity, the new branches, such as Gravia Electrical Hardware and Gravia Distribution, are together able to make Gravia a more competitive brand, country-wide.
The Gravia group maintains close working relationships with steel mills and their suppliers, including noted names in Brazil such as Usiminas, Belgo, Supergasbras, White Martins, Dupont, Stam, Soprano, CSN, Trombini, and Gerdau.
THE GRAVIA GROUP BREAKDOWN
Gravia was once very involved in construction works around the country, from the building of Brasilia, to hospitals in Salvador, and beyond, and its oldest segment is Gravia Profiles de Brasilia. The company has now shifted direction, based on new patterns of globalization that have led construction firms to specialize. Gravia therefore no longer takes part in the construction of such civil works, but continues to supply staple and specialized products, with an ever-expanding degree of knowledge and innovation.
Gravia Doors and Windows manufactures more than 300 steel door and window models, including a line of Eterna aluminum doors and windows, maxim-ar and tilting windows, regular opening doors, shutters, sliding doors, and transoms. Copper steel is used uniformly, and electrogalvinized steel is present in the lower tracks of all windows and shutters. The sliding doors use only the best stainless AISI430 steel. Gravia doors and windows also undergo the rigorous pretreatment available, to be able to withstand even the harshest conditions. All products are subject to a zinc phosphate application, which provides great anticorrosive properties, and a primer painting with aqueous paint, which is an ecologically sound option and will lower the risk not only to the environment but to employee health as well.
First certified in October of 2000, Gravia Doors and Windows has since been recertified in every subsequent audit. With a view to continually guaranteeing and improving customer satisfaction, the commitment to quality is stringently maintained by the company’s highly efficient quality management system.
“The processes that involve designing, manufacturing, and commercializing the Gravia frames are periodically evaluated, and they rigorously satisfy the ISO:9001 rules and regulations,” says Gravia. Gravia frames received a Level A Certification through passing all performance tests, including usage, wear, tear, impact, and permeability tests. In addition, products underwent intensive wind resistance tests, proving that Gravia windows and Venetian windows are fit to be installed in any region of Brazil and beyond.
Gravia Profile Industry has grown to become the largest metallurgic industry in Midwestern Brazil today. It currently manufactures and distributes an array of profiles, tubes, ridgepoles and metallic roof tiles, and roof gutters and flashings, as well as cut, folded, and calendared sheets. These products are tailored for use in industry, civil construction, metal sheet shops, and the agricultural sector.
Gravia Electrical Hardware, the third company in the Gravia web, manufactures electrical ducts, electricity meter poles, and, most recently light poles and support arms for public lighting, an exciting new market venture for Gravia. Gravia Distribution exists today in four stores where a range of Gravia products can be found.
A new milestone was reached in June of 2007, when Gravia officially began to expand to the international market outside of Brazil. The Gravia Group traveled to two prominent construction fairs, one in the African country of Angola, and one in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates. “Both of these locations are currently ripe with demand,” says Gravia. Angola, a country that was plagued by civil war until recently, is undergoing significant, widespread reconstruction. There is a great demand in the post-war era for construction supplies. As for Dubai, one need only pick up any of the latest current affairs magazines to learn of the extensive and groundbreaking construction projects underway. Dubai also acts as the gateway to the rest of the Arab world, and as these countries expand and seek to distinguish themselves on the global market, Gravia will be there to provide them with only the best supplies.
In addition to this active expansion and exploratory endeavors in Angola and Dubai, the Gravia Group is spreading rapidly as a name to be trusted around the international manufacturing field. It is currently responding to inquiries from all over the world, most notably South and Central America, as well as the United States. This is an exciting time for the Gravia Group as it delves into the international market with such a strong heritage in Brazil.
All companies within the Gravia Group are committed to iron-strong core values, learned from a long history as a family run company, of customer satisfaction, respect of employees and emphasis on the value of human talents, a commitment to the strictest public safety in the workplace, respect for all partners – be they suppliers or distributors – ethics and transparency in all market relationships, and institutional credibility and reliance.
The Gravia differential is an undying commitment to quality and respect for the customer, and an honest approach to business. “To this day we are a family-run company,” explains Gravia. “Not only do my father and uncle still work for the company, but I have siblings and cousins stationed all over the country who work for Gravia and are committed to carrying on the family’s name and our tradition of excellence.”
“We are committed to an honest approach to business,” Gravia continues. “ No matter how big your project, no matter if you are building a government complex or a candle in your home, we are there to provide you top-notch service, equipment, and, most importantly, an honest appraisal of what you need and what you’re getting.”
With a strong foundation in Brazil’s manufacturing history, and generations-old Gravia family values of top-notch quality and reliability, the Gravia Group sees no end in sight. As Brazil continues to emerge as a key player in the international economy, Gravia will be right there, as always an integral part of the growth process.