This leading supplier of refrigeration and systems for appliances boosts its operations in Brazil and increases synergies with global locations to boost sales. Sales director Fernando Ribas Ferreira speaks to Reuben Ford about the company’s strategy for success.
Invensys Controls provides components, systems and services used in heating, air-conditioning (cooling), refrigeration and aftermarket products. It is the global leader in commercial and domestic refrigeration systems and in recent years, Brazilian market growth has been sustained and supplemented by the company’s internationally produced products, thanks to the company’s strong global presence.
Launched in Brazil in 1959, Invensys Controls Brasil currently has three electromechanical, electronics and copper producing facilities in the country, exporting to Latin and Central America, Europe and the United States.
“Many companies offer individual solutions, but few produce packages in all segments. We encapsulate complete solutions for our clients,” says Products Director of Invensys Controls Brasil Fernando Ribas Ferreira.
The first components to be produced in Brazil were thermostats for refrigerators. Despite its inauguration in São Paulo, Invensys quickly moved to Caxias do Sul in the state of Rio Grande do Sul. Together with the move, the company expanded its line of components for white goods, which continue to lead the market today.
During the 1960s, the refrigeration line grew so much that in 1970 it led to the opening of the factory Vacaria in Rio Grande do Sul, where the copper tubes for refrigeration and air conditioning were developed, and in 1990, the expansion of online electronic controls, refrigeration, air conditioning, heating, kitchen and laundry, explains Ribas. In 1977, Invensys invested heavily in the line of laundry making the company a strong presence in the segment.
Today, the Invensys Group is headquartered in London, England, a member of the FTSE 100 index and listed on the London Stock Exchange. The group is made up of process systems (hard-and soft-ware) and appliances (which hás locations in Brazil).
Invensys now has three plants in Brazil: two in Rio Grande do Sul and one in the state of Manaus. “We manufacture electro-mechanical and electronic control parts such as water valves, drain, pump level controls, dampers and thermostats; the Vacaria and Manaus facility produces air-conditioning system parts,” Ribas explains.
One of Invensys’s brands, Robertshaw, offered the first electro-mechanical thermostat on the market. The global brand is a leading designer and manufacturer of products that control and sense temperature. Holding many patented solutions for white goods, Invensys can provide clients such as Whirlpool and Midea Carrier with complete systems for installation in their appliances.
“Each market has its characteristics, but the basic concept of our components remains the same worldwide. In Brazil, parts have been adapted or “tropicalized” to bring up-to-date solutions from global and regional sources,” Ribas says.
The extensive portfolio of established brands are sold business-to-business, making Invensys a part of the most well-known brands of domestic and commercial appliances around the world. “We have a number of new products in the pipeline. Development of new components and development of existing ones is often carried out together with the client and/or according to research and studies,” says Ribas.
Short, medium and long term (up to ten year) development plans are familiar to all employees and Invensys keeps a watchful eye on electromechanical- and electronic developments in the field. Annually a percentage of revenue is duly re-invested in product development.
Invensys has a team of 25 to 30 people working on research and development, and 1,500 staff in Brazil. The headquarters in Caxias do Sul covers 20,000 square meters and coordinates all divisions.
“Four years ago the electronics department was located in São Paulo. The decision to relocate to our main facility in Caxias do Sul was made to consolidate operations and increase the synergy between our factories,” Ribas explains. The move was one of the biggest investments undertaken by the company in the last five years.
Business investment in Brazil is not without its challenges. High taxation creates what Ribas calls an “uncomfortable reality.” He clarifies: “The world is getting smaller, with rapid access to information technology and global supply and it is tough to compete with other countries.”
There is also good news. The recent increase in Brazil’s middle class and easier access to credit has sparked increased public spending on white goods. Government initiatives like the nationwide ‘Minha Casa, Minha Vida’ housing plan proposes special payment plans for new domestic appliances, which, if approved, will boost sales considerably.
“Leading the market in systems for white goods with global technology, we are facing plenty of opportunity,” Ribas says. Different from its competitors, Invensys Appliance Brasil operates and thinks internationally. The structure supports increased growth in the country and benefits the group worldwide.