Grupo Gonher’s business philosophy has focused on employing the best contemporary business practices and being open to new approaches. This philosophy of excellence guided the company to become a modern corporation, leader in the Mexican market. Susana Baumann reports.
Over 50 years ago, a man with vision, attitude and sensitivity began a small 100-square meter workshop to produce four types of oil filters for cars and farm tractors. Today, Jos‚ C. Gonz lez, founder and chairman of the board, witnesses his dream converted in a solid industrial conglomerate of companies under the name Grupo Gonher de Mexico. A family business, the Gonher legacy now relies on the second generation’s shoulders and a legion of collaborators fully committed to the company’s continued success.
During its first years, Gonher never lost sight of its founding principles, learning, experimenting and adopting practices to advance into new phases of development. The company’s goals were always supported by the best administrative, financial and investment practices, as well as advanced production processes, training and marketing techniques.
The Gonher group of companies comprises six companies in different industrial sectors. Gonher de Mexico, the flagship company, was founded in 1953. In 1991, the group acquired Lubricantes de Am‚rica, a lubricating oil and grease manufacturer since 1956. In 1993, Qu¡mica Goncal, a manufacturer of household cleaning chemicals in business since 1968, was acquired. In 1999, Enerya’s plant was built, starting production the following year, dedicated to electric batteries.
To support the activity of its subsidiaries, the group created additional companies that integrate services and supplies. Gonhermex is the group’s marketing company, with 30 branches throughout the republic that serve commercial distributors, wholesalers, auto-parts stores, government agencies, and fleet, freight and truck companies and franchises.
Artigraf began limited operations in 1987, servicing Gonher de Mexico with folding cardboard production for filters packaging. In 1995, the company decided to offer corrugated cardboard packaging for the general market. Lastly, Papeles Ultra was acquired by Grupo Gonher to manufacture packaging paper, starting operations in 2001.
For Grupo Gonher’s 50th anniversary celebration, Jos‚ C. Gonz lez noted: “Achieving half a century of operations as a pioneer in our industry is a great satisfaction, but it also reflects a great effort and commitment. We have acquired experience, creating companies, keeping up with technological advances, generating job opportunities, and conquering and maintaining markets. Along the way, we have grown from a modest enterprise to a large corporation, prepared and successful in a global market that demands world-class quality.”
THE FIRST COMPANY, THE STORY
Gonher de M‚xico has two facilities, the Santa Catarina plant located in the metropolitan area of Monterrey, Nuevo Le¢n, covering a surface of 45,000 square meters, and the Tlalnelpantla location, in outside Mexico City, totaling 5,000 square meters of infrastructure.
The company started as a small workshop producing oil filters for cars and farm tractors. Due to growth, in 1973 it opened its actual location, with an initial surface of 6,000 square feet. In the 1980s, the company expanded into a special stamping plant, continuing with high-speed production and computerized control systems, polyurethane and coil production lines.
After advancing its manufacturing methods, the stamping process evolved into a continuous process organized into production cells. In the assembly lines, the company implemented the 5 S systems, which incorporated international production concepts to the business units.
A seventh line was acquired to produce polyurethane air filters, increasing its capability by 400,000 parts per month. This line replaced the plastisol heavy-duty air filters. Additional advances were implemented at the time, such as development of radial and conical filters, as well as polyurethane plates. The short thread was replaced by a rolled thread in sealed filters. Over 600 different types of filters were produced for internal combustion engines such as oil air and gasoline filters for the automotive market, and oil, diesel and water filters for heavy-duty, farming and marine machinery.
Under its licensed brand names Gonher and GC, the company produces it own filters but it also manufactures private brands for assemblers in Mexico. Nissan Mexicana awarded Gonher with the Zero Defects recognition. The company works under the ISO/TS 16949:2000 certification, and NMX-EC-025-IMNC-2000 laboratory standards recognition.
LUBRICANTS FOR THE AMERICAS
In 1991, the Gohner group realized the opportunity to acquire Lubricantes de Am‚rica, a company that produces a range of synthetic products, food grade products, and additional supplies for the aviation, iron and steel, metal mechanics, automotive assembly lines, and textile industries, among others.
This company, also located in Santa Catarina, Nuevo Le¢n, is located on a 5-hectares property with a 15,000-square meter plant. It was certified under ISO: 9000:2000 standards in 1996, and received international recognition from API, N.L.G.I., AGMA, SAE and Mercedes Benz. It was also distinguished by locomotive manufacturers such as General Electric, the Comission Federal de Electricidad, and Cablesa, and received company certifications for outstanding quality from the American Petroleum Institute, the National Marine Manufacturing Association, and Calidad Mexicana Certificada – a private entity that rewards quality standards.
The company’s laboratory equipment and professional staff are comparable to the ones found in any world-class international facility, performing state-of-the-art analysis. The company only uses high-quality pure raw materials for its products.
In addition to its own brand name products, Lubral, the company also produces for other prestigious domestic and international brands and exports to prominent corporations in Central America, the Caribbean, South America, and the United States.
Domestically, the company covers all market segments, from large corporations in Mexico to the public on a retail basis. It also sells directly to companies such as entire fleets of truck in several municipalities close to the Monterrey metro area.
Concerned about the environment, the company invested in a waste-water treatment plant, purifying equipment in combustion systems, and keeping landfills safe of pollution in accordance with the updated version 2000 of ISO: 9000:2000, the ISO: 14000 standard and the ecological guidelines in the 5 S Program.
In 1999, the group started construction on the Enerya plant, dedicated to manufacture electric batteries. The first production of four different types of batteries was completed in June of 2000. The following year, the company developed 12 additional kinds and in 2002, added six more, reaching 22 different models.
The modern plant features roomy areas with warehouse facilities for raw materials, products in process and inventory. The state-of-the-art equipment includes graters, mixers and coaters, curing chambers, assembly lines, rectifiers, battery forming and labeling. All automated process speeds up the course with guaranteed precision in every step.
Enerya products’ meet all client specifications and are supported by an integrated management system with the correspondent certifications in ISO-TS 16949/2000 in QM and ISO-14001/1996 in EM. Adhering to all government requirements, the company is committed to productivity, continuous improvement, efficiency, industrial safety standards and environment protection.
SOMETHING FOR THE HOME
A manufacturer of household cleaning chemical products, Qu¡mica Goncal was acquired by Grupo Gohner in 1993. The company had been operating since 1968 but it needed upgrading. The restructuring process included production automation, increased productivity, and creation of a totally competitive business unit. Since inception over 10 years ago, the company doubled it sales as a result of continual improvement in quality, processes and personnel training.
Qu¡mica Goncal’s production plant produces sodium hypochlorite and pine oil, the basic supplies for its products, serving four market segments: supermarkets, wholesalers, government stores and pharmacies. Some product brand names of bleach are Cloro Patito, Clortex and Cloro 10 brands; pine oil cleaners, such as Pino Patito and Mister Pino; multipurpose cleaner Fresko Brillo; tartar remover, like Muriatex Alamo and Sarritex.
It also produces alcohols for external uses, San Jose and San Crist¢bal; toilet deodorizers like Patito and Toilex; drain clog removers such as Drenator and Potasa Alamo; and fire starters under the Fotagol brand name.
Additional cleaning products under private brand names are also manufactured at this facility, to serve clients such as Soriana, HEB, OXXO, Benavides, Casa Chapa and Grupo Idea. Technicians at Qu¡mica Goncal assist supermarkets in the development of their own brand names products on consulting bases.
National distribution is handled by way of the company’s representatives in all major cities, but it also exports to the south of Texas through the HEB stores chain.
To support and market Grupo Gonher’s products, Gonhnermex, the group’s marketing company, has expanded into 30 branches around the republic divided into six distribution areas. The marketing company hires 600 employees, 160 sales agents and is located in a 60,000-square-meter warehouse with 130 distribution units.
In order to guarantee efficient service to commercial representatives, wholesalers, auto-part stores, government, freight truck companies, fleets and franchises, which comprise a portfolio of over 18,000 customers, the company relies on frame relay information technology, and leading hardware and software systems. Information and performance data is detailed daily through the company’s internal network. Sales are also delivered in e-business and electronic agents capabilities to respond immediately to clients demands.
Physical transportation of products is done by Transportes JAG, the company’s own freight company, which ensures on-time distribution of orders.
In addition, the company began operating a manufacturing folding cardboard facility in 1987, Artigraf, the unit packing units of Gonher de Mexico, and a packaging paper manufacturing facility in 2001, Papeles Ultra.
In 1995, the organization entered the corrugated cardboard packing market and built a 13,000-square-meter industrial facility with an installed capacity of 48,000 tons annually, and named it Artigraf.
The company is equipped to produce virtually any type of coverings with state-of-the-art technology, four-color printing and high-resolution post-print graphics. The company offers packaging services to several industries including fruit packaging, filters manufacturers, food and cookies, cigarettes, and food producers in the meat, fowl and milk industries. It also can service the packaging demands of ceramic floor tiles, office furniture and household appliances, among others.
Artigraf obtained its ISO: 9002 certification in 1999, and it was recertified in 2000. In 2002, the company launched a plant in Mexico City, and it will expand in the near future by acquisition of another cardboard corrugating facility.
On the other hand, Papeles Ultra, a company acquired by the group after being out of operation for six and a half years, was restructured to manufacture packing paper. Sixty percent of the company’s production is medium paper and 40 percent is liner paper. Installed capacity for this facility is 180,000 tons yearly, which is adjusted as technology and production increases.
The company’s equipment includes three paper production lines with auxiliary equipment; two auxiliary lining lines; two co-generator units for steam and electrical power; auxiliary equipment such as wastewater treatment, supply pits, electrical substation, maintenance and machining workshops.
Main clients for Papeles Ultra include affiliate companies at Grupo Gonher, domestic corrugated companies not producing paper, or those with insufficient production and multinational corporations that only have conversion in Mexico. Papeles Ultra has grown at a rate of 15 percent average in the last years because of it recognized high-performance products, which has been accepted at national and international levels.
IN THE FOUNDER’S WORDS
Management and staff operate under the group’s core values, which include honesty, punctuality, perseverance, teamwork, integrity and loyalty. Continual improvement in quality, raw material selection, processes and training were key factors in the development of the group’s companies. By keeping each product’s quality levels within the competing market standards, it has received recognition from domestic and multinational corporations, and has attained a position of leadership among its competitors.
Celebration of 50 years in operation has made Grupo Gonher a pioneer in its industry. On that occasion, Jos‚ C. Gonz lez expressed recognition to his associates with these words: “The satisfaction of our achievements is the driving force for continual improvement; a vision we set from the very beginning. Our success is due to the capable and enthusiastic men and women of Grupo Gonher, of whom we are very proud; to efficient suppliers; and most of all to our loyal customers, who we will continue to serve with dedication and professionalism.”