“From the start we were set on using the best technology to extract stone from our quarries,” begins Director of Marbrasa Mármores e Granitos do Brasil Ltda, Elvis Gomes. The company, which was founded 43 years ago, has always prided itself on the application of the most modern and efficient processes for the production of its marble and granite. One of the most traditional companies in the sector, Marbrasa was the first to import machinery from Europe. “The equipment that we brought from Italy cut the production time at the quarries and set the standards for the industry in Brazil,” Gomes states.
A CUT ABOVE THE REST
The fully automated gang saws used to transform the blocks into slabs increased control over the production process and achieved the same speed and quality as in European industries. As well as the gang saws, for high precision jobs, bridge saws with a laser aim that guaranteed more accuracy on its several angles of cut and variable quantities of material were also purchased for perfect synchronization of power and precision.
Using state-of-the-art machinery and equipment, Marbrasa prioritizes efficiency and quality of the final product, from transformation of the blocks into slabs, cutting treatment and finishing. “Marbrasa was among the first to extract, process and sell marbles and granites in the form of blocks, slabs, tiles and cut-to-size pieces,” continues Gomes. The company was also the first to export rock from Brazil to the US.
Another factor that sets Marbrasa above its competitors is that it has its own quarries, so guaranteeing the control of proportional supply and demand. With direct access to nine of its own quarries and also partnerships for the commercialization of stone from third party resources, Marbrasa has a competitive advantage that allows constant supply, uniform quality and complete logistic control.
Already using Girodril and Retroescavadeira equipment, in 2009, Marbrasa was one of the first to buy the 45-ton Caterpillar extraction equipment. Gomes is also quick to point out that the constant investment in technology has not subsided in 2011. In February, the company imported a new Italian finishing machine, featuring high-gloss polishing and an increased number of polishing heads. The technology applies a special wax that increases the brightness and affords greater protection of the stone and means that the marble and granite can now be entirely finished in Brazil. This year has also seen investment in revolutionary cutting equipment: “A seven millimeter diamond and cobalt cutting cable interspersed with rubber, which facilitates the cutting of perfectly sized and proportioned blocks.” The cables that have been put to work in the company’s quarries reduce the cutting time from 40 to just four hours.
The continuous investment in technology, which amounts to $7 million, is part of Marbrasa’s drive to increase the extraction of marble from its quarries. Pneumatic equipment replaces the work of five men and the cutting equipment allows the blocks to be stacked and transported more efficiently.
The state-of-the-art technology currently used at Marbrasa’s 50,000-square-meter main facility in Cachoeiro (Espírito Santo state) is worlds away from the simple machinery used in the 1990s. “This year we will also bring in new sawing equipment and open two new 2,800-square-meter warehouses to increase our infrastructure,” Gomes continues. There is also planned expansion of the production area totaling 300,000 square meters including an auditorium for staff training and administrative offices, in the town of Colatina, 230 kilometers from Cachoeiro. With the new technology cutting and preparing the marble and granite and the new warehouses, Marbrasa not only reduces freight costs, but is also more accessible to its clients.
The company’s leading product is San Gabriel Black Granite, which accounts for 60 percent of sales. The variety of quarries also offer a broad range of marble and other granite types, including Arabesco, White Desiree, White Marbrasa, Gaya, White Marble, Graphite Brown, New Venetian Gold and Via Lactea to name but a few. The stone is made available in block or slab form, and can also be cut to size for the client or sold as tiles.
Marbrasa produces and commercializes tiles in both Brazil and abroad. The tiles are polished, calibrated and beveled surface finished with hand-cut, machine cut or chamfered edges. They are produced under a rigorous quality control system in a variety of colors and sizes. Marbrasa also trades tailor-made tiles and other products such as bases, planters/countertops and floorings. Experienced craftspeople among the company’s 600 staff help the customers design and create the perfect marble or granite piece to suit their style and needs.
GROWING A DIFFERENCE
A broad spectrum of products and top technology translate into healthy growth for Marbrasa. The company is steadily climbing to the top on an international scale and is already the leading manufacturer in Brazil. “We average 13 percent annual growth and are moving up in the industry league tables every year – 2011 will be no different,” confirms Gomes. The forthcoming Soccer World Cup and Olympic Games, which will be hosted in Brazil, have boosted the country’s construction industry, and had a marked influence on sales and Marbrasa is participating in many projects nationwide.
However, Gomes is also modest about the company’s uninterrupted success; “Despite our differentials, we are aware that the product itself is the same as our competitors. To say that we produce quality is not what distinguishes Marbrasa from the rest. Our difference lies in our staff, service and experience.”
Maintaining market position also requires more than high quality and excellent finish. In reaction to the crisis Marbrasa counterbalanced by innovating and looking for new markets, understanding its clients’ needs nurturing important and fruitful relationships in new destinations worldwide. The fluctuating economy and increased value of the Brazilian Real have reduced the company’s exports to Europe and the US and caused a strategic focus on sales in Latin America and Africa. “We have witnessed a transfer of the money from one customer’s pocket to another, and have transferred our focus accordingly,” Gomes clarifies.
He continues to explain that sales are influenced by fashions. “The female public affects our sales because they are stereotypically the trend-setters: those who decide which colors, styles and proportions are up-to-date. Incredibly, the fashion industry plays an important role in our production as the consumer seeks to emulate the seasonal color palette in home furnishings. At the moment, for example, the tendency in Brazil is to mix creams and dark stone.”
Marbrasa has an eclectic client base that ranges from architects to engineers, technicians and the final consumer. Slabs of marble and granite are exported to distributers and cut at their destination, while blocks can be directly extracted and sold to specific requirements, for trade fairs and design projects. “Whoever our client is we pride ourselves on our symbiosis,” Gomes concludes.
With an extensive range and classic craftsmanship that cater to all eventualities, Marbrasa’s products are timeless – in stark contrast to the revolutionary technology and processes that the company brings to Brazil from around the world. The added shine of excellent customer service and industry know-how, keeps it at the peak of the market time and time again. As Marbrasa’s modern outlook and forward thinking proves, it seems the Stone Age is far from over.