A receptive marketplace, high standards and business savvy have turned Cato Ceramica into a thriving operation in a record timeframe, as Carlos Ponce found out.
In 1998, Cato Ceramica’s experienced management and design personnel ventured into the manufacture of high quality, sanitary products at price ranges that many competitors in the domestic marketplace struggle to match. Led by Ernesto Guerra, former CEO, Cato Ceramica began operations in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, at its brand-new facilities where ceramic products of the finest quality are still manufactured. At first, the company was mostly focused on providing raw materials for other bathroom furniture manufacturers, which provided it with in-depth knowledge that soon enticed ceramic and bathroom furniture manufacturing.
The company spotted a pressing need for price and service in the marketplace and soon became a leader with its ever-expanding product line, servicing custom and high-end markets within only three years of its inception. Value, performance, aesthetics, design and a dedication to service have played a critical role in achieving such level of success. “Aside from our quality, what sets us apart from competitors is our aggressiveness in marketing efforts, the support and immediate response we give to our channel partners and customers,” adds Guerra.
Cato Ceramica runs four plants; two of them are located in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, one in Gustavo Diaz Ordaz, Tamaulipas and one in Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato. The company’s product line has expanded to include commercial products, focusing in the next generation of performance products, projected to duplicate sales in three years. Initially, Cato Ceramica had an output capacity of 50,000 units a month; this has now reached 130,000 units spanning toilet bowls, sinks, vanities and pedestals. The company employs 630, and mid-term growth plans include commercialization and marketing of a new, high-end line. For this, Cato Ceramica will increase the plant’s installed capacity by 30 percent. Since Cato Ceramica has been operational for only five years, it boasts the newest technology for the manufacture of ceramic bathroom furniture: ceramic fiber-lined Swindell-Dressler kilns, and low pressure casting systems.
Meeting all standards
Cato Ceramica remains dedicated to servicing the wholesale distribution channel in all the markets it serves in Mexico as well as in Central America, the United States and Canada, with products that are certified by American National Standards Institute (ANSI), American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and the Canadian Standards Association (CSA). The company also undergoes inspections for compliance with regulations established by the Federal Government’s Environmental Regulation Agency, Semarnat, which requests reporting on the adequate handling of prime raw materials and waste debris.
“Aside from full compliance, we pride ourselves in offering only top products, and our greatest acknowledgments and recognition come from the widespread acceptance from our customers,” says Guerra. During its existence, the company has grown at an average of 20 to 30 percent annually, which has remained unchanged for five years straight.
Spreading the word has contributed greatly to this quick growth; promotion is carried out in conjunction with distributors at the point of sale. Cato’s product line is showcased through on-site exhibits, print advertising, marketing campaigns, press releases, catalogs and brochures. The company participates in trade shows both domestically and abroad, mainly in the United States, including The Kitchen and Bath Industry Show and Conference, organized by the National Kitchen & Bath Association, and the Expo Ferretera trade show, in Mexico City.
One of Cato’s recent milestones has been the innovation of a brand new three-inch flushing system bearing the commercial name of “Destroyer Flush.” This technology, which will be implemented on all of the company’s hydraulic products, enables toilets to be three times more powerful during flushing than conventional ones.
A glossy product line
Cato Ceramica’s products are predominately manufactured with clay-fired vitreous china, for a glossy, stain-resistant appearance. Under normal use, the company’s products can last a lifetime, and are available in a variety of styles and colors, and in a wide price range. Cato Ceramica has successfully introduced to the market its line of stylish, fully functional round and elongated units with matching pedestal lavatories. Basic bowls for residential and hotel applications add to the designer series, which also include round and elongated models.
A general trait of Cato Ceramica’s products is its ergonomic design, and vitrified ceramics provide long-lasting comfort and durability. Silent flushing and easy cleaning make Cato’s toilet bowls a preferred item. Its valves and hardware are fully compliant with the Official Mexican Norm NOM-010, and the National Water Commission, CAN-2000, guaranteeing a low water consumption of only 1.6 gallons. Its straight base facilitates installation and its trap-like design prevents bad odors from leaking out. All of Cato’s products include a five-year guarantee against manufacturing defects.
Cato Ceramica’s functional and stylish home-oriented product line encompasses its Jazmin, Terra, Oxford, Milenio, Greco, Monet, and Commercial high gloss, vitreous ceramics models with matching pedestal lavatory and U.S.-made components, including solid brass bolts and nuts, 10-, 12- and 14-inch tank rough-ins, and right hand flush, as well as a three-inch quiet, powerful, flushing action. Cato Ceramica’s lavatories have a 19-inch round drop-in, four-inch centers and front overflow, and come in white and other select colors.
The company’s commercial product line features standard elongated and 17-inch special needs toilets with flush valve. Cato Ceramica’s urinal models, wall-hung commercial lavatories, and drop-in lavatories are ideal for restaurants, office buildings, schools, industries and other high-traffic facilities. Urinals feature a flushing rim and a three-quarter-inch inlet with a threaded inside for a blowout flush action. Similar models have a flushing capacity of one gallon per flush through a siphon jet action.
Cato Ceramica has indeed built up a well-earned reputation among customers by following the principle of continued enhancement in design and total quality as the foundation of its policies to ensure maximum customer satisfaction. Says Guerra, “We have instituted a company policy where no product will leave the premises without meeting the standards that have propelled our company to the position where it is now. We are convinced this trend will continue thanks to our vanguard focus and the momentum we are rightfully gaining.”