It’s almost for sure that in Brazil and even in some parts of the world, if you look around, at home, in stores or at work, chances are that somewhere in a hidden place, or not, you will find a Mitto screw. It can be found in construction, furniture, home appliances, automobiles and many other products. Mitto screws are known for holding parts firmly together.
Micheletto was the first to produce slotted screws in Brazil. The Italian family was also responsible for producing the first lathe in the country, which was gradually discontinued to increase the volume and diversity of screws and other Mitto products. In the mid 1960s, the company already exported to South America, EUA, Mexico, South Africa, Equator and Europe. Between 1994 and 1995, Micheletto reached a boost in exporting. Almost half of production was destined to markets abroad. “Exchange rates played a big role. Today we export only 10 percent of our production. The real currency has been getting stronger when facing the dollar,” explains Carlos Albuquerque, commercial manager at Indústrias Micheletto S.A.
“The plan is to get ISO/TS 16949 by the end of this year,” says Cristina Iaqueli from the marketing department. ISO/TS 16949 is a rigorous international certification of the International Automotive Task Force. IATF is a group of automotive manufacturers including General Motors, Ford, Daimler Chrysler, BMW, PSA Citroen, Volkswagen, Renault and Fiat, along with their respective associations.
“This certification is a mandatory condition to reach the best in the automotive industry worldwide and that’s what we want,” adds Albuquerque. The certification defines quality requirements based on ISO 9001:2000, AVSQ (Italy), EAQF (France), QS-9000 (USA) and VDA 6.1 (Germany). This is applied to plants in which products are manufactured according to specific determinations and specifications by clients. “We already use key tools in order to achieve this certification more efficiently, such as PPAP, MSA, among others,” reinforces Iaqueli. The ISO: 9001 certification has been part of Micheletto’s curriculum since 1997.
Today Micheletto’s plant is located in Canoas, Rio Grande do Sul, in the south of Brazil. Every month, it produces over 200 million screws, organized in sets of 100 each. The plant located in Canoas used to manufacture only products according to client specifications but nowadays also attends retail orders. In 1999, the company obtained QS-9000 certification, also required by the automotive industry, and its clients include GM and Ford, Bosch, Mab and Valeo. Non-automotive clients include Eletrolux, Brastemp, Esmaltec, Britannia and Springer.
“This kind of client is the pickiest due to security reasons, and we are there to do the best we can,” says Albuquerque. The company has technological partnerships with major players, such as Ejot, the leading German company that deals with the sometimes tricky combination between screws and plastic. Micheletto is the only company that is authorized to utilize DG screw technology in Brazil.
The year 2004 was one of the most decisive years for Micheletto, after going public in 1967. It was acquired by Comafal, a metallurgic commercial group from Pernambuco state, in the northeast of Brazil. Comafal is a diversified group, manufacturing bikes, furniture, street posts and steel tubes, among other products. The acquisition injected close to R20 million in restructuring. Better equipped and larger plants, updated production lines, commercial representation all over the country, optimized stock control for raw material and final products, managerial and marketing improvement and cost reduction were some of the changes for Micheletto. However it still retained its quality control as well as all the know-how and experience developed over the years.
“The two companies found a way to integrate employees in an efficient way. The transition process has been seamlessly done. Besides, Comafal knows that Mitto is a very strong brand with acclaimed high quality products. Everyone is very familiar with the brand in the market,” says Albuquerque. “Although Mitto screws have been sold 20 to 30 percent above other companies’ prices, they were still dominant in the market. Nobody wants to use a so-so screw in a car.”
Canoas’ plant inherited all machinery from the plant located in Minas Gerais. “Our strength in technology is in Canoas, Rio Grande do Sul,” explains Albuquerque. The region has one of the best engineering schools in South America – UNISINOS – with which Micheletto has technology research agreements. In the 1970s the plant in Minas Gerais used to take care of over 6.000 items for retail, directed to the final consumer. At that time, the place was chosen due to its central location in the country and facilities of distribution for ready door-to-door delivery. Canoas was responsible for special items, manufactured according to client’s specifications. About 6,000 active and inactive items, not found in retail lists, were produced there.
SAFER AND STRONGER
In order to keep leading positions in the Brazilian market – the company has been awarded with top prizes by magazines and associations – it plans on keeping competitive prices. It also plans on keeping well-managed stock, and investing heavily on marketing, distribution and commercialization. “Our goal is to be the number one all over Brazil. We want to continue to strongly spread our brand worldwide,” says Albuquerque.
A big differential Mitto’s products have when compared to competitors’ is the final touch. The zinc coating is all done at the plant. “Other companies outsource it. We follow up the whole process,” explains Albuquerque. “Last year, we introduced a galvanization technique that eliminates chromium 3. European companies used to refuse furniture made with screws containing any hint of chromium 3. It has a risk of causing cancer. Now, we use chromium 6, which is completely safe.”
Micheletto produces close to R30 million each year. It expects to grow at least 25 percent in 2008 when compared to last year’s results and keep a continuous growing pace.