Arising from the need for more advanced radio equipment, BrasilSat SA has been listening to public demand since its inauguration 38 years ago. Today, the brand is the national market leader in telecommunication aerials and towers and transmits individualized service and innovation. Reuben Ford finds out how adjusting the technological dials of a growing industry and understanding business needs has put BrasilSat in touch with long-standing success.
The worldwide telecommunications industry has grown incomparably over the last few decades. With global communications companies apparently speed-dialing larger profits, it would seem that the sound of success is loud and clear for service and equipment providers. However, in countries like Brazil, costs have increased across the board and as connection time gets shorter and the world becomes smaller, the bills are getting bigger.
“Competition in telecommunications is extremely high and although technology and know-how have increased substantially. So has the price of manufacturing modern equipment,” explains Emílio Abud Filho, vice president of BrasilSat SA, Brazil’s leading manufacturer of communication towers and antennas. The company’s impressive 75-percent market share comes in spite of high taxes, fluctuating exchange rates and severe competition from international suppliers who can undercut national prices.
The economic crisis also sent shockwaves throughout the industry. For BrasilSat, that supplies equipment to the communication giants such as multinational cellular telephone service providers (such as Telecom Italia, Claro, Telefônica (Spain), and Oi in Portugal) managing production and maintaining levels of technology has kept the company at the forefront of the market. “We adjust our manufacturing accordingly, some of our components are made outside Brazil to keep prices competitive,” Abud Filho points out.
INNOVATION IN TIME
Overcoming interference from threats to Brazilian business has come through innovation. Since the outset, the company identified needs and know-how and matched the two to create products that improved the market. “When we started business in 1974, radio communication equipment in Brazil offered a standard 24 and maximum 32 voice channels, and were not satisfying industry needs. We developed a patented antenna to attend to the technical requirements of the new 64-channel radios,” says Abud Filho. The step was the first made toward the company that today records annual revenue of $200 million.
BrasilSat SA operates business-to-business, manufacturing aerials, connectors and components for radio and telecommunications, communication towers and shelters – a giant leap from the modest enterprise that dared to double the possibilities for radio frequencies.
“We believe in the power of innovation,” affirms Abud Filho. BrasilSat has a team of 52 professionals working in its research and development department, and the range of products available today are the result of constant changes and new applications of the company’s expertise.
Following the success of the first aerials in 1974, the company began developing its radio communication equipment, developing passive repeaters, which replaced current internationally-produced components just one year later.
In 1976, BrasilSat launched a new model of tower, which was lighter and more rigid, cheaper to manufacture, install and transport. The success of this product, together with the patented aerials led to the construction of a new, larger factory in Curitiba, to cater to growing demand.
Over the next decade, BrasilSat’s growth incorporated smaller companies and was boosted by important contracts, such as supplying the Ministry of Defense with radar equipment for air traffic control (1985).
“We have always invested our resources in providing better services and products. Growth has been a consequence,” says Abud Filho. In 1998, BrasilSat began investing in the shelters for telecommunication centers. The shelters of up to 20 tons have armored doors, air-conditioning and can be fitted with lights, fire alarms and other controls and accessories depending on the client’s specific requirements.
PRIZES AND PORTFOLIO
BrasilSat’s achievements have earned it industry recognition. In 2002, the company received the Expression of Technological Excellence Trophy awarded by FINEP (Studies and Projects Financing Institution). The prize was given for the specific development of towers, which today can reach up to 150 meters in height. Two years later, BrasilSat was chosen as the Highlight of the Year by the industry Magazine Plano Editorial in the components and parts division.
“In 2011, we were ranked 162 among Brazil’s biggest companies and 65 in Paraná’s most important enterprises – being second in terms of revenue and ninth in terms of lowest debts,” Abud Filho says.
The company’s achievements are not only due to innovation, but also the fact that BrasilSat provides complete solutions to its clients. “Our portfolio of telecommunications products is extensive and complete. Where others purchase parts from third parties and integrate them into their own systems and equipment, we are a one-stop shop,” continues Abud Filho. “BrasilSat plans, produces and provides 45 centimeter to nine-meter satellite aerials, connectors, components, accessories, digital radio systems towers and shelters – and can also manufacture to made-to-measure requirements.”
BrasilSat’s extensive knowledge of telecommunications products, and constant evolution and growth are thanks to its dedication to flexibility and diversification. “There is synergy between all of our products,” Abud Filho emphasizes.
This knowledge has been recently applied to products that are not quite so obviously related to BrasilSat’s core business. The high-resistance concrete used in shelters and tower construction was found to be useful in the manufacture of prison cells. Qualities originally intended for durability, sound, and thermal insulation proved extremely useful in transportable, high-security cell construction. The durability of this concrete also makes it ideal for building wind-power towers, which BrasilSat also manufactures from 40 to 100 meters in height and support wind-powered generators of 900 to 4,000KW.
In 2007, BrasilSat developed and began producing satellite technology to block the use of cellular telephones in prisons. The technology allows the telecommunication signal to be blocked in specified areas of the prison, without interfering with neighboring coverage, by using a patented, contoured-beam antenna.
Increasing its already extensive portfolio of products further still, BrasilSat also manufactures grain storage silos. Available up to 32 meters in diameter and in varying heights, the silos guarantee the safe and hygienic storage of grains and commodities.
BrasilSat makes its products in three large facilities in Curitiba, Paraná state in the south of Brazil. The company also has a representative office in São Paulo and three warehouses for the storage of raw materials for production and also finished products, which facilitate timely production and delivery. “Our divisions are divided among the 50,000 square meters of buildings that we have – that includes offices and laboratories for testing as well as industrial production units,” says Abud Filho.
Investing in this infrastructure and maintaining the leading market share is a vital element in BrasilSat’s success and competitive strategy. “To remain competitive we even produce some parts overseas, if the requirements of our customers demand dimensions not currently made at our facilities,” Abud Filho adds. The overseas production is the beginning of international relations for the company that hopes to build up exports in the future.
BrasilSat has witnessed annual growth ranging from 10 to 20 percent in recent years. Abud Filho attributes the figures to the eclectic portfolio and overall competence of the company. “We have a determined attitude toward continued success and provide well-engineered customized solutions to our clients,” he states.
In the 1970s and 1980s many companies of national capital disappeared. BrasilSat is one of the survivors. A concise, clear and coherent strategy is obviously the support that BrasilSat needs to hold on to its position. Keeping an ear to the ground by understanding client needs and providing one-stop solutions, the company is constantly increasing its range by developing new products and meeting demand. With equipment for private television networks the latest addition to the endless list of telecommunication technology, all signals indicate that the future is bright for BrasilSat.