Founded in 1907 as a distributor of toilets, faucets, and other bathroom components, Grupo Urrea has for more than a century hedged its bets on the growing importance of aesthetics and the functionality of bathrooms in Mexican households. With over $400 million in annual billings in 2007, the Mexico-based company constitutes the largest producer of bathroom faucets and valves in the nation. Mauricio Chan reports.
There is no question that the modern-day bathroom is much more than just a bathroom. Today, the once strictly functional section of the house is part spa and part relaxation room to the everyday person. Anything from a sleek faucet to a complex hydrotherapy bathtub can be the perfect complement to an otherwise commonplace bathroom, and with its 360-degree offering, GU is there to provide it all.
Founded over a century ago by American-born William Carroll as a supplier of bathroom components in Mexico, GU has since become the Latin American nation’s largest provider of faucets and bathroom valves. The corporation comprises four distinct brands that cater to every segment of the market and, due to a hike in construction spurred by the Mexican government, it has experienced unprecedented growth this millennium. And by expanding its reach in North, Central, and South America, CEO Juan Carlos Ramirez foresees an even brighter future.
“We have seen a sustained annual growth rate of 15 percent the past three or four years,” notes Ramirez. “Our objective is to maintain that rate by exploiting the growth of the construction industry in Mexico and increasing our presence in other countries in Central America and the northern tip of South America. Additionally, we have medium-term expectations to export our brands to the U.S., as currently we are only selling to that market under private labels.”
A GLOBALIZED COMPANY
Dica serves the widest range of the population, targeting the middle and lower socioeconomic classes with products primarily imported from Asia. Its primary goal is to place GU’s high-quality bath accessories within the reach of the entire Mexican population.
Products from the luxurious Urrea Diseño line, featuring components that beautify the bathroom space, are primarily manufactured in Mexico but also include U.S., Italian, and Asian craftsmanship. This line is inspired by its own users, sharing pleasant experiences through an ample variety of bath space ambiences that appeal to multiple senses.
Urrea Fluye provides hydraulic solutions that feature valves made in Mexico and plastic tubing imported from Italy. This line shows the company’s 100-year-long history and the expertise that comes with it. In addition, it combines innovative technology and top-of-the-line materials while adhering to the highest global quality standards.
Lastly, Denker serves corporate bathroom solutions, targeting airports, hotels, clubs, and movie theaters. For this line, faucets are imported from Israel while ceramic-ware originates from Brazil. Throughout the past two decades, this last brand has stood for technology, durability, and quality design.
GU’s ability to rapidly address market dynamics has rendered the company the largest provider of faucets and bath valves in Mexico, boasting over $400 million in revenues for the 2007 fiscal year. With a 15 percent growth rate the last four years, the company’s goal is to maintain its current expansion rate while solidifying presence in Central and South America. Out of the company’s massive output, an average of 8 percent is exported to these regions.
An additional market that Ramirez is seeking to target is the U.S. Currently GU’s imports are entering the North American market through private labels. Ramirez seeks to change this dynamic in the near future by exporting the company’s own brand.
While upping sales volume is a prerogative for GU, the main goal this year is adding more value to the enterprise’s current line of products. “Instead of focusing on increasing volume,” explains Ramirez, “what we want is to improve flexibility. We aim to have a wider range of offerings, which will help us differentiate ourselves from competitors through superior design and products that are more difficult to make.” This investment in improving the company’s repertoire will further add to GU’s prestigious name, long upheld by capable personnel, high-quality products, and impeccable customer service.