For nearly 50 years Ciser has been manufacturing fasteners and metal components, meeting the needs of a wide range of industries. Reuben Ford speaks to director vinicius allage about the company’s firm hold on the market in Latin America.
When Ciser was founded in 1959 by current president Carlos Frederico Adolfo Schneider, as part of the H. Schneider Group, it was set up to serve the customers of a hardware store that the Schneider family ran. At that time, there were only four employees achieving a daily production output of 2,500 screws. Brazil was importing nuts, bolts and screws and there was little demand for nationally produced parts. However, the changes in the country’s political and economic history in the late 1960s brought heavy restrictions on importation, and in 1968, the company became an independent entity, Companhia Industrial H. Carlos Scheneider, later named Ciser.
Today, Ciser is the largest producer of nuts, bolts and fasteners in South America and has a production capacity of 250 tons per day. With a portfolio of 15,000 different products and 461 product lines, it serves clients across a range of markets including the furniture, electrical appliance, bicycle, agricultural, civil construction, automotive and railway industries. The company manufactures parts for the assembly of equipment, appliances, and machinery. It does not distribute to the automotive industry directly but does supply clients who produce systems parts for major car companies. Carbon steel and brass are the key raw materials in Ciser’s products, which undergo rigorous physical and chemical testing in the quality control laboratories before commercial release. As part of a commitment to quality, the company has been setting up a quality system since 1996 based on ISO: 9002/94. “This is all part of our quest to strengthen the reliability of the Ciser name,” says Vinicius Allage.
Ciser currently has two locations in Brazil. The first, in Joinville in the southern state of Santa Catarina, is the main factory for the company. It covers 48,000 square meters and directly employs 1,100.
By reinvesting its profits, Ciser has adopted a program of continual expansion, incorporating new equipment, technology and production capacity, in an effort to meet the needs of its market while maintaining dependable levels of stock.
In 2007 the company invested in a second unit in Minas Gerais. Formerly an automotive plant, the unit will be used to produce special parts exclusively for the automotive industry. The $18 million investment in the construction of the new plant will allow Ciser direct access to the automotive market as well as increasing the production capacity of the parent factory in Joinville.
In addition to this, over the next three years Ciser will be investing another $100 million in a new plant on an industrial estate just outside of Joinville. When the original factory was built in the 1960s, the city of Joinville was much smaller, and as the company grew, so did its number of employees, and the city itself developed. Nowadays, the plant is located in a residential area, and no longer has the space to expand. It is for these reasons that the new unit is being developed. The new location will more than double the overall daily productivity of the company. With a production capacity of 500 tons and an area of 70,000 square meters, the new factory, in an area measuring 360,000 square meters, will better attend Ciser’s growth. The project, due to be completed in 2011, is already firmly on course and is currently in the final stages of environmental licensing.
Ciser has grown not through acquisition, but through pure success. “It has happened that competitors or other companies have closed or sold their equipment or premises (as has recently happened with the automotive plant in Minas Gerais) but no companies have been directly acquired or bought out,” explains Vinicius Allage.
“Building a trustworthy name has been at the core of Ciser’s business since it started,” affirms Vinicius Allage, and this is one of the key qualities contributing to its long term success. A consistent strategy of modern methods of manufacturing and management as well as outstanding products and quality has secured the company an impressive client base of 18,000 in the domestic market. Ciser also exports to 20 countries (including the USA), a fact modestly played down by Vinicius Allage: “At present we export in comparatively low volume, our focus has been the internal market.”
Despite the current strength of the Brazilian real, the heavy investment in increasing production and a solid export base placed the company in good position for becoming internationally recognized as a world-class supplier in the future. Major client General Motors (GM) has recently announced plans to invest $190 million in a plant in Joinville that will be fully operational by 2010 and will mean a further boost to Ciser’s sales. With other large national and multinational clients such as Electrolux, Whirlpool and Multibras there is huge growth potential for the company. Naturally, Ciser shares in its clients’ success, increasing supplies to match demand. Its most recent growth rate has been impressive at 27 percent for 2007 in relation to the previous year; the company is on track to maintain this trend.
The company’s growth has been duly accompanied by investment in technology, innovation and quality enhancement, all of which play a major role at Ciser. “The actual core technology we use is purchased. But the important thing in the production of screws and nuts is not the general machinery, which can be bought ‘off the shelf’ but in the specifications, tools and fittings used (together with the machines) to produce the parts. The secret lies in these. Machines allow bulk production, but the specifically designed parts they use are unique,” explains Vinicius Allage. At Ciser skilled in-house engineers and technicians develop these tools and fittings and study numerous supply consultations for special fastening innovations. Ciser’s very own school, Centro de Formação Técnica (CFT), which operates inside the company, is a fine example of its commitment to investment and development, of both its products and its people. Here employees can gain qualifications in production processes from within the company structure, giving rise to development opportunities and a greater skill level.
Ciser’s strategy is to add value to its products and an example of this was the launch in 2007 of Tenex, a door-fixing system that controls tension using metal structures. Likewise, the company is often asked to develop specific pieces for the automotive industries.
PART AND PARCEL
The company has also developed its own sophisticated logistics system. The Ciser Shipping and Receiving Center (CDC), which was set up to provide a quicker and more efficient supply service, is located in Joinville, approximately 540 kilometers from Sao Paulo. The 15,000-square-meter unit maintains the company’s own fleet, which transports orders to Sao Paulo, from where they are distributed through one of 40 transportation partners. This is also a more economical and environmentally efficient method of delivery as Ciser orders can be delivered together with other non- Ciser products. As well as serving the direct needs of these industries, this flexibility to deliver large or small orders facilitates supply to the retail and wholesale market, a key point of competitor differentiation. “We sell to the biggest and the smallest,” says Vinicius Allage. “Where most other factories in Brazil and abroad sell only to large distributors, who in turn sell on to smaller distributors and then retail – we sell directly to them all.”
The company’s utilization of ‘Indice de Atendimento ao Cliente’ (IAC), a system that guarantees client satisfaction, means orders received before 5 p.m. are shipped the same day. In addition, the CDC has the capacity to hold 8,000 tons of stock, further increasing logistics efficiency.
The success of Ciser lies in its steadfast history in the industry. Constant dedication and investment in the manufacture of nuts, bolts, screws and metal fastenings firmly hold the company at the forefront of the Latin American market. Despite the growth, Ciser remains true to its original values of reliability and trust. In a recent advertising campaign the slogan, “You can trust it – it’s Ciser” was displayed in stores and on products. Whether large or small, the industry and the consumer do trust Ciser, which in a new stable Brazilian economy certainly promises continued success.