This leading manufacturer of paints invests in expanding its product range and emphasizes innovation. Reuben Ford analyzes a colorful and committed approach.
Click here to read the complete illustrated article as originally published or scroll down to read the text article.
Farben is one of the top three producers of furniture paints in Brazil, but is also recognized for its automotive and industrial lines.
Products include gloss, matt and primer paints as well as thinners and varnishes. The company has developed successful industry-specific lines, which combine innovative solutions with high-performance paints and finishes.
Introducing 500 new products every year and 3.5 million liters of paint a month, Farben is dedicated to demand – constantly evaluating new opportunities and growing its markets.
“We have a $25-million, five-year investment plan involving research into new specialist paints and consolidating our position in each division. Our goal at the end of this plan is to be manufacturing 6 million liters a month,” says Administrative Director Edmilson Zanatta.
Determination and innovation are part of Farben’s DNA. Characterized from the start by a simple, down-to-earth attitude to business, family-run Farben has not allowed ambition to override attention to staff and details integral to its success.
“Company goals are shared by all employees, and our president and founder – Jayme Antônio Zanatta is a patriarchal and inspiring leader to us all,” asserts Ilmar Broch, Commercial Director.
Broch is one of three partners who sought the help of Jayme Antônio Zanatta, with the suggestion of installing a paint factory in Brazil’s southern Santa Catarina state.
The company was officially founded in 1993. The name Farben (‘colors’ in German) was chosen to honor the German immigrants in Santa Catarina and emulated the positive synergy of the vibrant and innovative company.
Initially focusing on furniture paints, Farben launched its first strategic plan in 2003, which included the creation of new lines, namely automotive.
“The intention was for the company not to become dependent on one particular product, or market,” explains Edmilson.
It was an important year for the company: Gaining ISO: 9000 certification for the first time and adding among other products, varnishes and finishes. Considerable growth followed, with the opening of a second factory in Guarulhos, just outside industrial capital, São Paulo.
“By 2008, we had established our industrial ‘tripod’ – three market divisions, which define our focus,” Edmilson continues. “Furniture, automotive and industrial paints.”
In the same year, Farben brought in external administration and management specialists to monitor and regulate growth.
In 2011, the company acquired a third facility in Arapongas, Paraná – securing a location in the heart of Brazil’s furniture manufacturing region.
“The evolution of our business has been marked by development of revolutionary products that have become characteristic of Farben. We study our markets and their needs and create solutions,” explains Broch.
He refers to Farben’s ultraviolet (UV) curing paints introduced in 2003. The range dries instantly via a photochemical process on exposure to high-intensity ultraviolet light, offering many advantages over traditional drying methods. Farben’s UV curing increases production speed, reduces reject rates, improves scratch and solvent resistance, and facilitates superior bonding and is used in automotive and industrial applications.
Other important advances have been made through the Tintometric Farbemix System: a software and mixing machine that combines bases and concentrates to produce unique and specific colors.
Knowing its clients and their needs is the base of new product development. Broch exemplifies further: “We are also pioneers in inventing new lines. Our recent analysis has shown that furniture paints suffer over time, creating depressions and irregularities in surfaces. We are working on paint finishes that do not sink.”
Farben’s innovation is characterized by finding solutions: Furniture paints with bacteria-resistant properties (preventing fungus growth) for clinics and hospitals, flame-resistant paints for furniture, easy-to-clean paint and finish lines for the automotive division and perfect-adhesion glass paints for direct application.
Identifying opportunities like these results not only from experience, but from Farben’s investment in research. The company studies European and worldwide tendencies, attending international trade shows and evaluating trends and new technologies.
In 2010, Farben gained the CRCC certificate (the official supplier registration for national petroleum giant, Petrobras). The achievement was a dramatic step forward for the industrial line, which produces paint for metallic structures, agricultural, mechanical and petrochemical markets.
Today, the furniture and automotive sectors account for 40 percent of Farben’s business, the industrial line for 20 percent. Information Technology Director, Edilson Zanatta explains however, that through strategic planning and investment, the divisions will be more balanced in the future.
“We are investing in vertical integration and the implementation of new technology and systems – especially in specialized paints, which will give us an even greater competitive advantage across the board,” he says.
Around $9 million has been spent on two new 20-cubic-meter reactors, tripling Farben’s resin treatment capacity from 300 to 900 tons a month. A state-of-the-art laboratory has been installed at the 22,000-square-meter headquarters in Içara, Santa Catarina, and IT systems updated constantly.
“We plan. The additions to each line, their engineering and sale is planned from concept to logistics – growth strategy is important for us,” Edmilson emphasizes. The current five-year plan aims to almost double production (from 3.5 million to 6 million liters a month).
Farben employs 350 people in its three facilities in Içara, Guarulhos (5,000 square meters) and Arapongas (3,000 square meters).
Recognition and Consolidation
As the third most recognized brand in furniture paints, Farben has a 15 percent Brazilian market share, compared to 10 percent and 5 percent in the automotive and industrial respectively.
“We are dedicated to increasing our figures and consolidating our brand,” Edmilson says.
Farben exports to six Latin American countries, currently responsible for 5 percent of sales, and as part of a ten year expansion plan is confident to include North and Central America. “The aim is to increase exports from 5 to 20 percent,” he continues.
Brazilian industry magazine Exame has ranked Farben among national businesses with the highest growth rate for three consecutive years. In 2012 the company reported annual growth of 16.5 percent and this year Zanatta predicts similar figures of 15 percent.
He explains the reasons for this success: “The simple answer is commitment. Our staff and representatives are driven and dedicated – together with strategy, planning and training we have been able to grow.”
Farben’s advertising campaigns have also won national acclaim, yet Zanatta emphasizes that the company’s innovation comes through management as well as products.
“Our success rests on three pillars: internal talent, innovation and investment,” Edmilson states. Farben re-invests a sizeable portion of its annual $95 million. “The three pillars mean value for money for the customer,” Broch adds.
Even in the light of economic crisis in 2009, Farben continued to grow: “Our strong values have always translated into success,” Zanatta concludes.
Proven strategies and solutions and an unending enthusiasm for expansion epitomize Farben’s outlook on business and opportunity.
Farben justifiably expects a bigger and brighter future.