Lorie Greenspan profiles Vallen Proveedora Industrial, which has become a leading provider on the Mexican market of a wide a range of industrial safety products using Mexican suppliers with a penchant for quality and innovation.
Located in Tampico, on the Gulf of Mexico, 320 miles south of Brownsville, Texas, Vallen Proveedora Industrial S.A. de C.V. began operations in 1984, founded by acting director general Camilo Kuri. Kuri had worked in the Mexican market, selling polycarbonate products such as eyewear and other facial protection in the industrialist-harbor zone of Altamira, Tamaulipas.
The company has grown into one of the biggest distributors of safety and hygiene protection products for various markets, but it is the petrochemical market that comprises the biggest segment for Vallen Proveedora. “This represents an important part of the business,” says Manuel Rendon, national sales manager. And just how big? Well, when you can count Petr¢leos Mexicanos (Pemex), Mexico’s state-owned oil company, among your roster of customers you’ve grown a substantial reputation in your field.
Other markets that benefit from Vallen Proveedora’s distribution program include automotive, maquilas, food & beverage, cement plants and steel foundries. “In 21 years we have looked at different scenarios to find solutions for safety and industrial needs,” Rendon says. “We are the largest safety distributor in Latin America, and we have the largest range of products. We distribute brands that are well known, including Bacou Dalloz, Aearo, Drager, Osborn, Proto, Gojo and 3M.”
Vallen Proveedora’s list of products includes equipment for hearing protection, visual protection, hands protection, and protective clothing, and covers all the assorted hats, gloves, goggles, footwear and protective devices that fall under these categories. In addition, five years ago, Vallen Proveedora introduced MRO products that its holding company, Hagemayer, distributes worldwide; these include abrasives, packing materials, pneumatic and hydraulic tools, as well as other items. The company’s customers include GE Prolec, Carrier, Alpha, Hylsa, Mabe, Cummins, and Procter & Gamble.
In the last two decades, Vallen Proveedora has been able to stay on top of its game through the vision of its founder, who made an impression on the market by offering unheard-of advantages that included quicker delivery times than others in the business. Kuri also was able to identify new opportunities. “We were the first company to provide globally a safety solution,” says the national sales manager. For Pemex, Vallen Proveedora helped the company reduce its accident rate and improve product quality, which, of course, reduced its financial expenditures. “After that the company experienced exponential growth,” Rendon says.
In 1992 a strategic alliance was made with Vallen Safety Company, which gave Vallen Proveedora even more strength on the Mexican market. “In 2000 our Vallen company supplier made a strategic alliance with Hagemeyer Group which has given us more of a global scope in interacting with other markets to satisfy the needs of our clients,” Rendon says. Selling products throughout Central and South America, Proveedora garnered sales of (U.S.) $100 million in 2005.
Solutions and products
In its role as a solutions provider, Vallen Proveedora makes it a point “not to be a case mover but a solutions provider and to identify opportunities for customers to improve operations and safety for people.”
To do this, Vallen Proveedora consigns inventory in a customer’s warehouse and also helps to map out custom training programs on how to use the various safety products. As it did with Pemex, the company also works on cost savings to help customers save dollars and reduce accident rates. “We have 29 branches throughout Mexico to be closer to customers so we can give them immediate delivery,” Rendon says.
Three years ago Vallen Proveedora started a regionalization program to empower operations regionally in order to foster a greater sense of control and responsibility. Today, the company operates in three regions: Bajio with headquarters in Quer‚taro; the southeast with headquarters in Villahermosa and the metropolitan region with headquarters in Mexico City. The company also plans to expand north with headquarters in Monterrey and northwest with headquarters in Chihuahua.
This expansion comes on the heels of a paradigm shift in the Mexican market, with safety and occupational health positioned more in the minds of industrialists, which gives Vallen Proveedora a window of opportunity to offer optimum levels of service to a growing market. “Our suppliers,” Rendon says, “are always developing products that keep us on the vanguard.”
To further its operations Proveedora is in the process of being certified under the concept of Six Sigma to further give its programs and services weight in the global market. In addition, all of its products fall under quality norms established in Europeÿand the United States.
“We have participated in national fairs of the industry, as well as in conventions in the United States,” Rendon says. Every year, he adds, the company exhibits at EXPO VALLEN, an event of industrial security that is positioned as “the most complete exhibition of manufacturers of personal protective equipment in Mexico and surely in Latin America,” he adds. “This event features the support of Vallen Proveedora’s national and foreign suppliers like 3M, DuPont, Aearo Company, Ansell, Draeger, Bacou Dalloz, among others. In addition, we’ve been recognized for our quality by our main clients and suppliers. This recognition guarantees the prestige of our company.” The next EXPO VALLEN 2007 will be held in the World Trade Center Veracruz, May 17-18.
The advantage Vallen Proveedora offers over Asian competition, Rendon says, is that Vallen Proveedora’s products and services are lower on price because it deals mostly with Mexican suppliers, which cuts down on tariffs and other costs associated with importing product. Besides, Rendon says, “We prefer to work with Mexican suppliers whose quality is comparable to anyone in the world. And our international suppliers also offer ample experience in our market.”
With all of this activity, Rendon explains that it’s the quality of the company’s 1,150 employees that make the real difference. These people, he explains, are in constant contact with customers, and are highly trained to attend customer needs. “We offer very high levels of professional service and we have such a wide range of products that make us the true leaders in this industry in Mexico,” Rendon says, adding “We’re a customer driven company.”