Fast Engenharia became a leader in a challenging market where customers consider innovation a given. The South American company continually meets this challenge. Its materials, equipment, service and workforce set new standards in a demanding industry.
A specialist in tubular galvanized steel structures, the company pushed industry boundaries and became one of Brazil’s three top engineering support companies, according to national industry magazine O Empreiteiro. Offering maintenance structures to the petrochemical, naval, paper and cellulose, steelworks, fertilizers and events sectors, the company has access to some of Brazil’s leading industries. “We distinguish ourselves through operational standards, technical solutions, staff, quality and service,” says Commercial Director and Purchasing Manager Fábio Monforte.
STARTING THE SHOW
The magnitude of Fast’s achievements is emphasized by its strategic navigation through several markets. Founded in 1986, the company sold holding parts for metal structures, providing butterfly style clips and scaffolding equipment for civil construction. Fast quickly developed valuable know-how in working with tubular structures and, in 1988, it won a contract with fertilizer producer, Ultrafertil S.A, providing support structures as well as equipment. The project’s success pushed the company’s work into the spotlight.
After its industry debut in the industrial maintenance area, Fast established contacts with events companies that used its structures for stages, arenas, bleachers and VIP areas. Brazil’s popular outdoor shows, concerts and sports events as well as indoor political conferences provided plenty of opportunity for business growth. However, interludes between shows interrupted business consistency. “Big events don’t happen every day,” Monforte points out. “We needed something more stable to increase revenue and opportunity.”
Rethinking its market role proved easy for Fast. After all, its original intention was to supply the industrial maintenance sector. The challenge came in gaining center stage in a seemingly new market segment. The solution involved hiring professionals with know-how in this area. The strategy proved successful. “The hired professionals brought expertise and new contacts. To that, we added our experience in assembly of tubular structures and soon developed an important client base,” explains Monforte.
One of the most prominent new contracts was with Petrobras, one of Brazil’s largest and most profitable oil companies. The association cast a bright spotlight on Fast Engenharia. Its performance was well received. Contracts with clients in new areas (such as the paper and cellulose, metal refinery and construction industries) soon followed. New clients included Obebrecht and Queiroz Galvão, among others.
Implemented changes produced record-breaking results for Fast. In 1998, before the new projects began, the company had a 32-member employee roster. By 2009, company turnover exceeded 30 times the 1998 revenue, and the workforce increased to 325 full-time employees. The staggering statistics bolstered Fast’s market presence. A year earlier, the company received a prestigious industry award for achieving annual growth of 120 percent.
A major business catalyst proved to be a contract to supply the structures for the Pan-American Games in Rio de Janeiro. This huge project involved constructing several beach arenas, among other essential structures for the games. Twenty percent of the total budget went to tubular steel structures. The remaining 80 percent went to the infrastructure for these structures. Services underscored a significant company differentiator: flexibility. “We collaborate with clients to provide a complete support structure,” says Monforte.
Fast Engenharia has applied its expertise to new market areas. Five years ago, the revival of Brazil’s naval businesses called for considerable investment in offshore construction. The sharp rise in the country’s oil and gas industry led to Fast’s involvement in new projects. In the past five years, it provided tubular structures for the maintenance of 26 offshore platforms. Also, Fast opened an office in Rio de Janeiro to service the ports. The facility complements the main office in São Paulo city and the company’s 36,000-square-meter equipment deposit in São Paulo state.
Continually building on current business and seizing new opportunities, Fast is investing in its equipment to provide the best access solutions to its clients. “Some companies are happy to rent structural equipment from third parties. We prefer to hold our own. As a specialist in engineering access, we need reliable ways of reaching every area our clients require,” explains Monforte.
To be 100-percent sure of its performance, Fast launched a sister company for on-site structural elevators. Established two years ago, Fast Transportes Verticais brought revolutionary technology to Brazil. Specifically, it replaced traditional cable elevators with new and more effective technology. The company proved an instant success. Today, Fast Transportes Verticais offers more than 100 elevators for Fast projects and for rental.
Fast took another step in improving access solutions when it invested in articulated arms for aerial work. In 2009, it acquired JLG, the leading designer, manufacturer and marketer of access equipment in the United States. The company already bought and began importing 60 new machines for work at heights of up to 26 meters. All platforms arrived in Brazil in March 2010, a development that completed Fast’s full range of equipment for access to all areas of industrial maintenance sites. Further, it reaffirmed the company’s position as a market leader.
Even though involved in large, complex and lucrative projects, Fast never lost sight of the details. An expert in 1.5 inch tubular scaffolding, the company has also created smaller innovations such as the aluminum floor platform, which is more practical than the heavy wooden plank predecessor. “The new floors do not replace the need for the old, but they do present an accessible and easy solution to certain projects,” Monforte says.
Fast’s focus on every detail of industrial access – combined with its impressive client portfolio, highly qualified staff, optimal sales and service – elevated it to its current position, as it contributes to the enterprise’s excellent all-round performance.
The future looks bright. With Brazilian industry booming as ports are reactivated, refineries modernized and the regional oil business prospering, the company anticipates more growth and increased opportunity. Fast Engenharia has already proved to its loyal customer base that a solution is within each. It’s prepared to carry the message to new clients that nothing is too difficult.