When Protendit laid its foundations in São Paulo, Brazil over 50 years ago it introduced pre-fabricated pre-stressed concrete construction technology to a country ripe for development. Now in the midst of an industry boom, the pioneering company is building on its success to achieve record growth and revenue. Reuben Ford digs deeper to find out why more and more Brazilian structures stand on Protendit.
Although prefabricated housing can arguably be traced back to the 1800s, it is generally considered that the art of building with previously made transportable parts was perfected by the Germans. During World War II the need for mass accommodation for military personnel required fast and inexpensive homes; Sell-Fertighaus GmbH built over 5,000 prefabricated houses in Germany for members of the occupying US forces. After the war, ‘prefabs’ were built as a means of quickly providing quality housing to replace buildings that had been destroyed.
This technology was brought from Europe to Brazil by Protendit in 1958. Realizing the obvious advantages of prefabricated construction, the company sold the components to third parties. In the late 1960s the company, which had established its reputation as a pioneer in marketing these products was purchased by its current owners, whose intentions were to build a market leader.
“It was during the 1970s that we really grew,” begins Partner Director João Batista Tiezzi. The fresh energy and enthusiasm of new proprietors grew the business and expanded the product lines. In addition to prefabricated structures, Protendit began producing building components in pre-stressed concrete for foundations and solid structures. The factory in São Paulo struggled under the strain of high production volumes and in 1980, a new plant was opened in São José do Rio Preto, also in São Paulo state, but nearer to neighboring states Mato Grosso do Sul and Minas Gerais, which afforded close proximity to a broader client base. “The new facility tapped the developing construction market outside of the state capital,” says Tiezzi.
Catering for the growing demand of a rapidly developing construction industry has been an important characteristic of the Protendit’s history. Now one of the three leading companies of its type in Brazil and producing 12,000 cubic meters of concrete components per month, Protendit is constantly investing in its infrastructure to continue to meet market needs.
“In 2010 a second factory was opened at the industrial park in São José do Rio Preto, and although work is still being finished, production started in the second semester,” Tiezzi explains. The newly enlarged premises now matches the size of the São Paulo plant and is perfectly timed to supply the current boom in civil construction in Brazil.
Most of Protendit’s products are manufactured from pre-stressed concrete. Pillars, support beams, flagstones, panels and blocks for foundation work are among the components produced. “The extreme weight of the concrete limits our market area, due to logistics. We have however, supplied structures to the North and North East of Brazil,” says Tiezzi. The majority of the company’s clients and completed structures are located within a 200 mile radius of each of the facilities, and include prefabricated warehouses, Distribution Centers and Sugar/Ethanol plants as well as concrete foundations for a broad range of commercial and residential constructions.
Having developed a range of products, Protendit’s business is very evenly divided between its two main areas. According to Tiezzi, “70 percent of revenue is generated by the sale of prefabricated structures and 30 percent by foundation components.” The company has come a long way since bringing building techniques from Germany, and while the parts and methods used are of public domain, Protendit has adapted existing products based on demand and experience.
“While there are no significant differences in the production machinery used at our plants, or in the methods that we use, we have created larger and even sturdier components – including foundation pillars of up to 25 meters,” he continues.
With manufacturing methods quite literally set in stone, Protendit’s business allows little or no room for flexibility – on the contrary, rigid reliability is the name of the game. No room for innovation raises the stakes for companies in the field, and staying ahead of competitors is no mean feat. So how has Protendit constantly finished in the top three? The answer, according to Tiezzi is threefold. “We have always benefited from the growth spurts in the Brazilian economy, but when the market grows, everyone grows. First of all, Protendit had a head start, based on the fact that we were pioneers from the outset.” Over half a century of experience in the construction industry and with thousands of successful completed projects around the country, Protendit is a trusted name in the industry.
“Secondly, we refuse to compromise on quality and our clients can rely on our commitment to supply the very best,” he continues. “Finally, and importantly, our service goes beyond building solutions. Customer care is paramount. We never leave our clients in the lurch and even if we have to invest more on our part, we do so. Our clients feel valued and know we are dedicated to providing 100 percent satisfaction.”
The three step theory has certainly been a success in terms of growth. In 2008, Protendit reported a record annual growth rate of 60 percent, inspired largely by the construction boom in that year. A glance at figures for recent years reveals an average 10 to 20 percent increase in sales figures. The economic crisis of 2009 didn’t affect the company too much. “Of course, there was a drop in consumer confidence and many construction sites around Brazil were put on hold, while the damage to the domestic markets was assessed, but we kept the pace with our long-term planning,” explains Tiezzi.
In 2011, construction machinery has roared back into operation and with a firm focus on building up Brazil’s infrastructure. One of the world’s fastest growing economies is busy preparing for the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games. “The presence of international sporting events is a great benefit to our business,” Tiezzi confirms. Protendit is no stranger to participating in such projects. The company supplied components for the subway system in São Paulo and foundations for the Linha-Amarela highway in Rio de Janeiro and the Rodoanel Mário Covas in São Paulo: the planned (and partially built) Beltway, around the largest city in Brazil.
In fact, Brazil is rife with opportunity. The thriving sugar and ethanol industry has given rise to new sugar cane treatment factories, financed by national and international investors and demanding infinite construction resources.
The car industry is also growing considerably, with companies such as Hyundai investing $1 billion in factories and showrooms in Brazil – both of which require prefabricated construction parts and foundations. The automotive industry is concentrated in São Paulo state; Hyundai has set up headquarters in Piracicaba and Toyota in Sorocaba, both located close to the state capital. The potential presented by such industries is promising for the continued success of Protendit.
A pioneer from the start, Protendit is a concrete base for Brazilian industry. Ready-made solutions that have been tried and tested are being used in more and more constructions. With Brazil’s economy in a favorable light, Protendit provides firm foundations and ready-made solutions for building an even brighter future.