Grupo Lamosa, a Mexican company with more than a century of experience in the construction industry, has made significant capital investment to reach a world-class technological platform and raise productivity. Results are an outstanding value added product mix with an increased range of high end luxury offerings. Susana Baumann reports.
Back in 1890, a group of American investors founded a small company called Compañía Manufac-turera de Ladrillos de Monterrey in Monterrey, state of Nuevo León, in northern Mexico. The company started up with 75 workers producing 20 million bricks a year.
Today, this company has developed into four business units, an administrative and financial services company and 21 production centers throughout Mexico under the umbrella of Grupo Lamosa. Focusing on the construction industry and the real estate sector, the group manufactures ceramic tiles, sanitary artifacts and adhesives, while it develops residential and commercial areas in the metropolitan area of Monterrey.
With sales of over $380 million a year, representing 20 percent in exports to the United States and Canada, the group employs more than 3,000 workers. Despite the changing political and economic scenarios in more than 100 years of existence, Lamosa not only has maintained market presence but has also capitalized on opportunities, expanded and diversified its business units and its products, becoming a significant part of Monterrey’s and Mexico’s history.
The small brick company was acquired in 1929 by Bernardo Elosúa and Viviano L. Valdes, who changed its name to Ladrillera Monterrey, S.A. In 1933, Ladrillera Monterrey pioneered the manufacture of wall and floor tiles in the domestic market and added a hollow, resistant clay block known as Barroblock to its production line.
In the 1980s, Ladrillera Monterrey entered a new phase by consolidating operations and expanding into the real estate sector. Large company properties were converted into residential developments and the real estate business began to grow through more relevant urban development projects.
The decade of the 1990s saw the company achieve international quality standards through a series of organizational changes, which situated Ladrillera Monterrey in the best position to capitalize on Mexico’s opening markets. Operations were consolidated and unproductive plants closed. At that time, Ladrillera Monterrey, S.A. changed its name to Grupo Lamosa, S.A. de C.V.
THE NEW MILLENIUM
In the 21st century, the company continues with its growth and diversification strategy. New companies and production facilities were built and acquired such as the Benito Juárez and the Nuevo León plants to manufacture sanitary artifacts and the San Luis Potosí facility for tile production. An additional plant was launched later in Benito Juárez for producing wall and flooring tile.
“The group underwent two important changes: an even deeper institutional restructure, and a strong investment plan,” said Moises Benavides, CPA and manager of investor’s relationships. “For Grupo Lamosa, operating with an institutional management team that implements the practices of good corporate governance is an important way of creating value for the stockholders.”
He adds: “The other change was a strong investment plan into different business units, which gave the company the ability to develop new products and target a high-end market. Grupo Lamosa changed its corporate identity to reflect its commitment to quality and innovation, supported by a state-of-the-art technological platform. These two changes were supported by a human resources restructure and logistic capitalization with the inclusion of an infrastructure of systems.”
Initiatives were implemented to enhance the company’s market share in the luxury segment, with the launch of products such as the high-end Ambiance sanitary line. At the end of 2005, the company launched the new luxury Firenze Tecnoarte line of luxury porcelain enamel tiles.
“With the new acquired technology, the company was able to launch a series of new products that revolutionized the market. The institutional product line was strengthened with the launch of the pressure-assisted Tornado toilet line and Atenas drop-in and under counter washbasins. The ‘smart flush’ system is a dual flush intelligent toilet that significantly reduces water consumption because it calibrates the amount of water according to the matter flushed,” Benavides explained.
These changes pushed the company to the number one position as producer of flooring and wall tiles and adhesives, with floor and wall tile representing 59 percent of its total sales; sanitary ware, 34 percent, and real estate, 7 percent, said Benavides.
THE BUSINESS, THE PRODUCTS
The wall and flooring tile business unit has expanded since 1933 into three plants strategically located in Benito Juárez, Tlaxcala and San Luis Potosí. The plants produce new designs and sizes with improved characteristics that offer beautiful, personalized products such as floor and wall tiles, skirting tiles, porcelain enamel tiles and special pieces.
“We offer a wide coverage of the domestic market through a network of more than 200 distributors and presence at more than 750 points of sale. We also have a significant presence in foreign markets, mainly in the United States, through a network of 30 distributors. Exports represent 18 to 20 percent of the total sales,” said Benavides.
Under the brand name Crest, the company offers adhesives, additives, grouts and fillings, stuccos, cleaners, sealers and a flexible joint system that protects floors from dilatation.
CREST Piso sobre Piso Rapido, for instance, is an adhesive with a greater degree of elasticity and flexibility, capable of bearing smaller structural movement that offers excellent performance for porcelanatos, granite, marbles, and all kinds of tiles ceramics upon substrates. It is ideal for replacing floors on already existing tiles.
Its ImperCREST line of elastomeric waterproofing products for sealing concrete, galvanized, and polyurethane foam roofs also serves as an insulator. It comes in durabilities of three, five, and 10 years, and in addition to being specially formulated to resist stains and stay white, ImperCREST waterproofing products are water based and environmentally friendly.
A GROWING STAR
With a 30-year success record in the national and export markets, Lamosa’s sanitary artifacts business unit has reached a top level, offering the highest quality standards and outstanding hydraulic performance to both residential and institutional markets. According to Benavides, the company is a main exporter in the Nafta region, selling its products to the United States and Canada with great success.
Recently, the business strategy to increase profitability from its sales mix triggered the launching of new and groundbreaking high value-added products. The Ambiance luxury line is an example of such initiative, which has increased Lamosa’s presence in the high-end segment.
The company has also made significant contributions to the environment by introducing a new line of High Efficiency Toilets – HET – that maximize flushing capacity and minimize water consumption. “The retrofit program launched a toilet with four liters capacity compared to six liters standard capacity, which decreases the use of water and improves performance, especially in those regions where water consumption is critical. We are working with the national water company offering their clients the possibility of buying this product through monthly payments on their water bill,” explained Benavides.
The sanitary artifacts business was established in 1963, and is the company’s biggest exporter, reaching almost 50 percent of its
production. Its products have been sold in foreign markets for more than 30 years to the United States and Canada. Mexico’s leading manufacturer with two production facilities and approximately 1,260 employees, Lamosa has plants that are located in Monterrey and Benito Juárez.
Lamosa features a long list of competitive advantages; these include:
• Strategically located to serve the NAFTA Region
• Extensive nationwide leadership and geographic coverage
• Products with outstanding characteristics
• Customer-oriented organization
• Ongoing new product research and development
“Our constant efforts to launch new and innovative products in all segments have positioned the company at the forefront of the industry and allowed it to capitalize on rapidly growing markets. We stay in close contact with the needs of our customers and we invest in state-of-the-art technology to keep up with new trends. These are the key reasons why Lamosa stands up from the crowd and has a leadership position in customers’ preferences,” he concluded.