Open for business since April 2013, Ammann Brasil is the first Latin American unit of the world’s leading manufacturer of asphalt plants for roadways. Managing director Gilvan Medeiros Pereira tells Michael Sommers about the company’s plans to pave its way to success by creating partnerships to last a lifetime.
Earlier this year, Brazil’s National Confederation of Transport (CNT) released the results of its annual study measuring the quality of Brazilians road and highway network. According to its findings, only 10 percent of all Brazilian roads are paved – and of those that are, 50 percent are in conditions considered to be “uneven,” “poor,” or “terrible.”
Many might view the sorry state of the roads in Latin America’s largest country as a major obstacle (or a minor disaster). However, for the Swiss-based Ammann Group, the world’s largest manufacturer of asphalt plants, the condition of Brazil’s roadways – along with those in the rest of Latin America – represents unlimited opportunities. “The need to pave – and repair – roadways in Brazil, and throughout the region, is enormous and it will remain so for decades to come. And we’re not just talking about roads and highways, but airports, seaports, and other essential infrastructure that will have to undergo improvements or expansion,” predicts Gilvan Medeiros Pereira.
As managing director of Ammann Latin America, Pereira is all too aware of the region’s needs and opportunities, many of them driven by the unprecedented economic expansion and development that has seized much of Latin America during the last decade. Recognizing the massive demand for investments in infrastructure, particularly roadways, the Ammann Group felt that the timing was more than right to conquer this flourishing market, as part of its ongoing mission to position Ammann as a global brand. As such, on April 4, 2013, the family-owned multinational inaugurated a state-of-the-art production unit in Brazil’s southernmost most state of Rio Grande do Sul.
“If you want to compete in Latin America, you have to have a manufacturing presence in Brazil,” confesses Pereira. “The Brazilian market represents between 40 to 50 percent of the entire Latin American market. Excluding the rest of the region, the Brazilian market in itself is extremely attractive.”
Making a Splash in the Market
Ammann kicked off its activities in Brazil in grand style with an important sale to an important client. The equipment in question was a cutting-edge, highly mobile asphalt plant known as the Prime-140. This compact model, assembled on a semitrailer, boasts capacities that ranging from 35 to 140 tons per hour. Following extensive market studies carried out in conjunction with the region’s businesspeople, machine operators, research labs, and various authorities, the Prime-140 was developed, in only 10 months, at Ammann’s two main production facilities in Switzerland and Germany.
After rolling off the assembly line at Ammann’s plant in Gravataí, a suburb of Rio Grande do Sul’s capital of Porto Alegre, the equipment was delivered to Construtora e Pavimentadora Diferencial/Zopone Engenharia in Rio de Janeiro, a company contracted to construct the Metopolitan Arch. This 26-mile roadway is part of a massive project: a 90-mile metropolitan urban highway network that links the city of Rio with five federal beltways crisscrossing the surrounding state of Rio de Janeiro. Between them, the Prime-140s and other equipment supplied by Ammann will produce approximately 132,000 tons of asphalt between April and December of 2013.
“We’re very happy because this project is of significant importance,” says Pereira. “Spurred on by demands of Rio’s hosting of the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games, it’s also a project that will ease traffic problems and directly, and positively, impact the quality of life of Rio’s residents. Our participation has allowed us to prove our machines’ high quality and superior operational costs; the equipment operators themselves can attest to this. As such, it’s been an excellent marketing tool.”
The Metropolitan Arch project may be the first – and most prominent – of Ammann’s Latin American contracts, but it’s far from the only one. Already, the company is participating in a host of other projects in various Brazilian states, including Rio Grande do Sul, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Minas Gerais, Pernambuco, Piauí, and even the far-flung Amazonian state of Acre. Additionally, it has also supplied equipment to clients in Paraguay, Argentina, and Mexico. “In a very short time, we’ve already become a reference at various points throughout a very large region,” states Pereira.
If Ammann seems to have made rapid headway into the Latin American marketplace, the pace is in line with the group’s ambitious goals for Brazil as well as the rest of South and Central America and the Caribbean. “Our objective in terms of asphalt plants is to be market leader in the next five years,” declares Pereira. “And we want to be among the top two suppliers in terms of other equipment.”
In order to meet its goals, Ammann has gone all out. One of the biggest selling points the group has in its favor is its worldwide reputation for high quality and technological innovation, honed over an impressive 144-year history. “Our products boast a worldwide renown, and our technology is a very strong differential,” admits Pereira. “We use only the best materials and work hard to find top suppliers.” Indeed, a major motivating factor in Ammann’s choice of Rio Grande do Sul for its plant’s location stems from the state’s long tradition of manufacturing top-of-the-line agricultural equipment – and of supplying top-of-the-line materials to produce them.
Of course, Ammann is also fully aware that a complete portfolio of superlative products won’t earn client’s loyalty if it isn’t accompanied by a full range of services that surpass those offered by its competitors. For this reason, the company is developing a strong base of local collaborators who have an understanding of the market. “Ammann is present – directly or via representatives – in 130 countries around the world and we have guiding corporate concepts that we try to replicate everywhere we go,” says Pereira. “Yet, at the same time, we believe it’s essential to recruit regional professionals with experience in the segment, who know the clients, market, and culture. We want people who can offer financing solutions, efficient distribution, sales and technical assistance – an entire package whereby clients – the majority of whom are private construction firms – can have access to the best products on the market while reducing their operation costs.”
This all-encompassing philosophy is appropriately summed up by Ammann’s motto: “Productivity Partnership for a Lifetime,” a long-term vision that sets it apart from other players in the marketplace. “By using our knowhow, equipment, and services, our clients gain more benefits now, and in the future,” says Pereira, adding that the slogan can be applied to all of its interpersonal relationships including those with employees, suppliers, and distributors as well as clients.
“In a short time, the Latin American market has shown a lot of faith in us. In less than two years, we’ve positioned our brand and launched equipment into the marketplace. Now the door is open for the future. Having sought to give our clients the best experience possible, we’re now celebrating the fruits of our labors and paving the way for productive partnerships that really will last a lifetime.”