Grupo Mascarello has been a driving force in Brazil’s industrial development since the 1950s, and shows no signs of slowing down. Already a reference in agricultural equipment, the latest addition to the group, Mascarello Carrocerias e Ônibus, has sped into the automotive industry with well-timed success and is currently gaining ground on the market leaders. Reuben Ford catches the latest on the new bus company that prioritizes technology and innovation.
Today, Grupo Mascarello is a group of three companies. With almost 60 years of experience, the expansion has been the result of identifying needs and offering modern solutions in rapidly developing markets. As Brazil emerges apparently unscathed from the worldwide economic crisis, economists continue to marvel at the booming industry and despite the trials and tribulations of a tumultuous past the country has a history of leaping ahead at an astounding rate.
When Grupo Mascarello began with Comil Silos e Secadores in the 1950s, it played an important role in the agricultural development, modernizing practices through automation and machinery.
Comil worked hand-in-hand with farm workers, investing in research and development of new technology for grain storage equipment, which soon established the brand as one of the most respected in its market segment in Brazil.
Based in Cascavel in the southern state of Paraná, the group founded Mascor Imóveis in October 2000, a real estate company that prospered from the potential of the property market in Cascavel and that today continues to exert an important influence on the development of residential buildings in the city.
In 2003 Mascarello launched its latest edition to the group: Mascarello Carrocerias e Ônibus. The bus manufacturer was the first in Paraná state, a brand driven by state-of-the-art technology as an integral part of its industrial processes and with the objective of bringing greater innovations and technological developments to the market place.
“Just as a child acquires the basis of its knowledge during the first years of life, Grupo Mascarello learned in the early years how to successfully continue in the market. It all began with Comil: a national icon for mechanized agricultural operations. Later with the founding of Mascor Imóveis, the group matured, contributing to urban development. Mascarello Ônibus, our newest company tapped into a previously unexploited market in the state, expanded frontiers and putting Cascavel on the collective transport map in Brazil,” says Company President Iracele Mascarello. “These three companies are united in one mission: to improve the lives of the consumers whether in the countryside or in the city.”
THE ROAD TO SUCCESS
Mascarello Ônibus was not only created from the investments of one of the largest agro-industrial groups in the state but also credited with the know-how acquired through experience in the market. In spite of the fact that it is the newest company in the group, Mascarello is already responsible for around 50 percent of the revenue, which was $300 million in 2009.
The figures are impressive for the seven-year-old company, but it was the auction of the bankrupt bus manufacturer Incasel that occurred in the late 1970s, which originally attracted the attention of Comil’s directors. Previously inexperienced in the road transport industry, the company that was entirely dedicated to storage and drying equipment for grains conducted a study together with potential clients, which revealed the potential both in Brazil and abroad of a new bus and coach manufacturer.
Having acquired equipment from the bankrupt company, Mascarello embarked on its journey into the automotive industry. Although reaching the end of the road at the end of the 1990s, the Mascarello family continued to receive requests from clients all over Brazil to return to the industry and produce vehicles under the Mascarello brand.
The fact that there was still no similar company in Paraná, together with the opportunities offered by a market that favored different and innovative models, led the group to invest in the area again. In 2003 the group launched its Cascavel factory, which is the newest bus producing plant in Brazil.
“We have a constant policy of investment in technology,” explains Commercial Director Antônino Jacel Duzanowski. “Last year we invested $6 million in our line of micro- and minibuses and this year that figure will increase by another 20 percent.” Mascarello produces lines of urban, interstate, micro, mini, and school buses, as well as specialized vehicles based on bus chassis such as motor homes and transport vehicles. In May 2011 the company plans to launch the Roma 370, which has been the focus of considerable investment and will be the most advanced interstate bus manufactured by Mascarello. The Roma fleet is the result of in-depth studies, which consider the comfort and technical requirements of long distance vehicles. The dimensions and weight of the bus also take into account maintenance and durability factors.
The unyielding commitment to innovation and the constant technological evolution of its products have resulted in the most modern production machinery at the 28,000-square-meter factory in Cascavel, which employs more than 1600 people. The manufacturing process is vertically integrated, with departments specializing in large vehicles, fiber and interior fittings, small buses and plastic and foam parts. “The soldering is all robotoperated, and we have even brought curving and production equipment from Italy, generators from China and tools from Turkey to ensure the quality and efficiency of our buses,” continues Duzanowski. In fact, Mascarello must work a year ahead of the market, predicting the materials of the future and always favoring, lighter and more durable products.
The technology greatly increases productivity at the plant, but Duzanowski is quick to point out that the secret to the success of Mascarello’s buses lies in the skilled labor of the workers who assemble them by hand. “The parts are manufactured using the best methods and the best materials but assembly still requires a talented and experienced hand.”
The company’s approach has certainly proved successful, with an 8.7 percent market share in just seven years and an annual production capacity of 2,500 vehicles, Mascarello is fast approaching the industry’s frontrunners. In 2009, despite economic crisis, growth statistics reached 32 percent and Duzanowski predicts a figure of 23 percent for 2010. He cites seizing opportunity as well as new products as the main reasons for the continued growth of the company. As competitors who put their feet flat to the floor have burned out, Mascarello has navigated through economic chicanes and simultaneously benefitted from the gaps left in the market. “We can offer the level of service of a small family business, the attention to detail of industry experts and have the time to serve every client who steps inside our doors,” Duzanowski says.
Mascarello is in good stead for future success. With plans currently underway for the modernizing and expansion of the facility in Cascavel, the company has also recently processed an order of 80 vehicles for Costa Rica and 76 for Uruguay. In Brazil, clients include local government authorities, transport companies and shipping companies across all states. Although the devaluation of the dollar has reduced exports, buses are also exported to Chile, Argentina, Paraguay, Uraguay, Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Panama, El Salvador, Angola, Ghana, Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea. Having peaked at 30 percent of production in the past, the international markets currently account for 14 percent of all the vehicles manufactured. The fall, which was also influenced by cheaper imports from China, has not shaken Mascarello’s plans for the future. With the 2014 soccer world cup, and 2016 Olympic Games destined for Brazil, the company has ambitious plans for the coming years. In 2012, there are plans to launch a double decker bus to facilitate interstate transport.
“Every day we aim to build on our clients’ trust, improve quality and increase our market share,” concludes Duzanowski. With road transport in Brazil the only other option to traveling by air, a company with its hands firmly on the wheel of success is certainly on the right track. Already prospering in the market, the light at the end of the tunnel seems even brighter, as Mascarello heads toward a future filled with opportunity.