In the last five years Librelato Implementos Agrícolas e Rodoviários Ltda, one of the companies of the Librelato Group has experienced remarkable growth in the road transportation industry. President José Carlos Librelato and Marketing Director Thayni Librelato talk to Reuben Ford about just how far the company has come since its inauguration, and how Librelato Implementos continues on the road to success.
The Librelato Group began as a small family enterprise in 1940, functioning as a sawmill, sugar and flour manufacturer, as well as working with other small-scale agricultural products. The ambitious vision and dedication of founder Berto Librelato did not falter – in 1966 the company began manufacturing wooden bodywork for trucks and by 1969 the company had constructed a factory in Orleans in the southern Brazilian state of Santa Catarina. In 1975 control of the company was passed to Berto Librelato’s eight sons, and in 1980 Irmãos Librelato (Librelato Brothers) was created. This was a crucial time for the Librelato Group.
“We were experiencing management problems,” says José Carlos. “There were inevitable difficulties with eight brothers attempting to lead the company together.” In order to maintain the fast growing success of the company, the brothers had to find a way around the internal obstacles.
In addition to growing the business for bodywork and accessories for trucks, the company had developed in other areas as well. During the 1980s the brothers, through diversification, expanded into ceramics, oils and lubricants, wooden products, stoneware, transport and plastics. In 1992 the company changed its name to Librelato Implementos Agrícolas e Rodoviários Ltda, and continued on the original line of bodywork and truck accessories. “By 1999 each of the Librelato companies was running well, with sound administration and financial returns. It was then that we could really turn our attention to developing Librelato Implementos,” explains José Carlos.
From the modest manufacture of wooden bodywork for trucks, Librelato Implementos had quickly broadened its product range. Even before the intensification of its business, the company was manufacturing container chassis, transport platforms for automobiles and tilt-off trailers for the transportation of rubble and debris as well as specialized trailers for the transport of specific goods. The company now also manufactures dump and transfer trailers, hydraulic tilt trailers, mechanized waste disposal trailers for compacting and compressing garbage and tow trailers as well as a range of lightweight goods trailers on chassis. In 2000 the first articulated semitrailers were manufactured. These implements were the beginning of a line of revolutionary products in the Brazilian market.
Today, Librelato Implementos has changed the profile of road cargo transport. Pioneer products such as the articulated openload semitrailer, which was launched in 2007, have resulted in huge transformations in the sector. As a highly modern piece of equipment with a mechanized cargo transferal system, the trailer allows goods to be passed from one unit to the other with greater efficiency. This trailer was entirely designed and developed by Librelato, with Brazilian technology, following years of testing unloading goods such as sugar. Today, Librelato is the fifth largest producer in Brazil and manufactures more than 30 different models, serving both the domestic and South American markets, as well as some African countries.
The products are manufactured at three locations. The first of these is the headquarters of the company in Orleans. The 17,000 square meter plant employs 350. A second plant with 50 employees, also in Orleans, covers 3,000 square meters. In a third 10,000-squaremeter plant in the nearby town of Capivari, 100 people produce exclusively the articulated half-load trailer. Between them, the plants currently manufacture 240 units per month. The success of the company has led to the purchase of a new site and a new facility is currently being constructed in Içara (also in Santa Catarina).
Librelato Implementos posted record figures in 2007, experiencing the largest growth of any company in the sector, growing by an impressive 65 percent. “Company turnover doubled between 2006 and 2007, and our market share increased by 87 percent,” says José Carlos. “Our goal for 2008 is to achieve a further 50 percent growth on last year, of which we have already reached 38 percent in the first four months.”
Despite the road not always being quite so smooth (the market downturn in 2005 slowed business for the whole industry), Librelato Implementos has always sustained year on year growth. “We have always had a personalized approach to our business,” explains José Carlos. Instead of simply marketing products to end users, the company goes to the client to understand its specific needs. Based on this information Librelato Implementos offers custom made, secure and efficient solutions to the manufacturer and safe and reliable trailers to the transport companies.
“Take the example of Toshiba,” continues José Carlos. “After visiting the site and observing current transport conditions, we were able to offer a more efficient solution, which greatly reduced damage to goods. Having ‘sold’ Toshiba on the idea of the custom-made trailer, we approached the transport and logistics company and showed them the customer-approved benefits.” This is a service offered both in Brazil and abroad. “In Puerto de Valparaiso in Chile a logistics problem meant that containers were not being off-loaded efficiently. Librelato Implementos developed a container trailer that permitted the transfer of five times more pieces in the same time as previously; 25 containers were transferred per hour as opposed to only five,” affirms José Carlos. It is this dedication and personalized service that has not only guaranteed growth but also secured important clients.
José Carlos says, “We gain the total confidence of clients, friends and suppliers. Our goal is to grow by consolidating our brand in the market through the quality of our products and also through our customer service. For us, everyone is important; from the small business to the multinational. Librelato transforms its clients’ necessities into products that facilitate the life of the transportation company.” In addition to working with major cooperatives and the grains industry, Librelato Implementos also has clients such as Petrobras, Vale and Júlio Simões.
DRIVING INTO THE FUTURE
The market also shows no signs of disappointing the company. For Thayni the success of the company lies in a combination of factors. “It is estimated that the Brazilian economy will grow by 5 percent in 2008,” she explains, “and a projected $34 billion will be invested in the industry’s infrastructure, logistics and road network by 2010.”
It is important to remember, she notes, that Brazil does not have an extensive rail network and the majority of goods are transported by truck. “Many trucks are overloaded, and exceed limits for vehicle weight on the roads. This requires 20 percent more trailers and transport equipment,” she says. Brazilian trucks carry goods all over the enormous country, 3,000 miles from north to south, and as Thayni adds, “Brazil has the oldest fleet in the world when comparing to other developing countries. This requires a further 15 percent increase in equipment to modernize the fleet.”
However these are not the only influencing factors. José Carlos points out, “The development of transportation infrastructure in Brazil, including airports, roads and industries, will increase business by 60 percent. In comparison to the USA whose fleet is approximately 10 years old and whose industry produces 240,000 trucks per year, Brazil produces only 100,000 and needs to update vehicles. We see all of this as 100 percent growth opportunity in the future.” The increase in the harvest in Brazil, which will provide an extra 136 million tons of grain, is one example of the increase demand for transport solutions.
The constant and consistent growth and success of Librelato Implementos is the result of a dedicated and determined business ethic. “We want our brand to be associated with quality and excellence in service,” says Thayni. The company is investing in greater challenges and in new technologies, producing even better implements and reducing production costs.
“We are of Italian descent,” says José Carlos. “We believe in putting profits into the company and not into our pockets.” The family ethos undoubtedly works, ensuring that Librelato Implementos transports its success into the future with security, efficiency and reliability.