Sometimes out of crisis comes innovation. This is true for CEUSA, a ceramic company that realized that in order to survive in a difficult market, it would have to find a way to stand out among the competition. The tile company took advantage of Brazil’s economic downturn in the early 1990s by revamping and refocusing its production. With doses of creativity and improved efficiency, and the decision to narrow its focus to ceramic tiles, CEUSA came up with special lines of tiles and found a healthy niche market of discerning consumers who appreciate the company’s blend of superior quality, practicality and fine taste.
The recipe brought success to CEUSA through the hard times and until today. But the company has not been content to rest upon its laurels; investments are made in updated technology and a full 8 percent of the company’s team is involved in research and development. CEUSA’s labs are constantly abuzz with the search for ways to better serve clients and the company has elevated the industry of ceramic tile to an art form, with unusual and impressive decorate and practical products.
A cooperative that worked with a broad range of ceramic products, CEUSA now limits its production to ceramic tiles, but the sky is the limit when it comes to variations and special touches in the tiles that roll out of CEUSA’s cutting-edge kilns. Indoor and outdoor walls and floors get a distinctive look with the company’s decorative tiles, which include metallic and glass finishes. Tile “carpets” may be a centerpiece of a room while a rainbow of glazes and panapoly of trims and even mosaic and other decorative looks can spice up any surface. CEUSA manages to create tiles that need no grouting and others that faithfully mimic the look of wood and stone. The company’s special patented graffitti-resistant tile, launched in 1996, can be used in tunnels and building exterior and interior surfaces. Graffiti, dirt and even pollution residue are easily removed with a damp cloth. It is a testimony to the solidity of the company and the quality product that this unique covering graces the walls at the world-famous temple to soccer, Maracanã stadium in Rio de Janeiro.
In 1990 the company’s four kilns turned out 350,000 square meters of tile per month. By the year 2000, total monthly production with eight kilns was 250,000 square meters but with an overall value over three times greater than that of 1990. In 2006 CEUSA doubled its size when it acquired a second, ultra-modern factory where robots and a mere 70 of the company’s 700 employees assist in firing processes have been streamlined to compete with Chinese manufacturers.
IN THE CRADLE OF FASHION
CEUSA exports to exclusive clients on all continents, including Hong Kong, Eastern Europe, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, Greece, Central America and the MercoSul countries. CEUSA’s wares are featured at the most prestigious trade fairs: the company has a stand at the Coverings trade fair in the United States and is one of five companies in the Brazilian pavilion at the CERSAIE fair in Bologna, the biggest covering fair in the world. Menegon points out that “only top-quality companies show there. We need to have up-to-date products to be worthy to appear in the ‘cradle’ of fashion.”
Moving toward ever more specialized and complex ceramic products and efficient manufacturing techniques, CEUSA aims to continue to please its demanding clientele. The company has set a target of 600,000 square meters of production by 2010, so it seems as though continued growth and success will follow the company forward.