Recognized as one of the largest fiberglass water tank producers in Brazil, Fortlev has been in the business for 19 years and has been the market leader since 1998. Reuben Ford speaks to Sales Manager Alfredo Trajano about how Fortlev’s products, processes and practices have continued to blow competitors out of the water for 10 consecutive years.
Fortlev is a company in the Torres group, manufacturing water tanks, swimming pools, tiles and filters from fiberglass and polyethylene. The products are all durable and strong while being light in weight, which gives rise to the name Fortlev, from the Portuguese words “forte” (strong) and “leve” (light).
The company, which has always invested in its products, modernization of its machinery and in the expansion of its know-how and technology, has just launched a new product: water cisterns made of polyethylene. This has been another step toward elevating its status as a pioneer in the development of water storage and preservation solutions. The innovation was unveiled during the 16th International Trade Fair of Construction (FEICON) in April of this year in industrial capital São Paulo, where it created a huge impact and generated much interest with visitors, especially construction professionals, architects and civil engineers.
Commercial Manager Alfredo Trajano proudly explains, “The polyethylene cistern is the result of almost two years of research, investment in machinery and development of materials. The product is the only one of its type in the country and is the leading product in the market.”
The success of the polyethylene cistern and continued success of the other products maintain Fortlev in a phase of expansion and development. In 2007 a 30 percent increase in business was reported in comparison to the same period in 2006, a growth rate which has remained constant for the last three years. The improvement in performance was reflected in investment in new equipment, machinery, modernization of workspaces and in increasing staff. In less than a year the number of employees jumped from 550 to 800.
Today, Fortlev has two sites, a 250,000-square-meter unit in Serra in the state of Espírito Santo that employs 600 people, and another in the Camaçari petrochemical complex in the north-eastern state of Bahia. This second 12,000-square-meter site has a staff of 350, and is currently being expanded to 80,000 square meters, which will increase both the workforce and company’s productivity. Together the two sites produce more than 2,500 tons monthly with 50 percent sold in Brazil and the rest exported to countries in Africa. A third unit opened in June 2008 in Cajamar in São Paulo. The brand new site manufactures products for the São Paulo region.
“We are also in the process acquiring a new plant in the state of Santa Catarina to supply the southern states; Rio Grande do Sul, Paraná and Santa Catarina. We believe that the investment in the two new locations will greatly facilitate logistics,” says Trajano.
The concentration of the company’s business has definitely contributed to its success. When Fortlev was founded in 1984 it manufactured sinks and tanks in synthetic marble. It was in 1989 that, noticing a niche in the market, the first fiberglass water tanks were produced. These products not only revolutionized the sector but also the focus of Fortlev, particularly when in 1998 it began producing tanks from polyethylene and became the market leader. Following heavy investment in research and development, the company decided to sell the synthetic marble sink and tank factory and concentrate its efforts completely on fiberglass and polyethylene water tanks.
The watertight business model employed by Fortlev keeps the company in the leadership position. With unique and revolutionary products, manufactured and delivered to the highest possible standards and constant emphasis on research and development, it is a position that, in a newly stabilized Brazilian economy, the company holds with confidence.