Ouro Fino was founded in 1974 in São Paulo state, Brazil, as a small workshop that made vehicle parts. At this time, the surge in the industry resulted in the company expanding its range of products and changing its name to Ouro Fino Auto Peças (Ouro Fino Automobile Parts), specializing in molded, plastic and soldered components. Demand continued to rise and consequently the company grew; in doing so, it also gained valuable knowledge and skills in a rapidly growing new market. Very soon, the company realized the potential of manufacturing other products using similar production techniques, and Grupo Ouro Fino (Ouro Fino Group) was established. As well as parts for vehicles, the group began producing its own brand of products in diverse areas.
Today, the company is divided into four sectors, each responsible for a different range: Ouro Fino Solutions, Ouro Fino Relax, Ouro Fino Acqua and Ouro Fino Thermal.
With the expertise acquired in the field of automotive parts, Ouro Fino Solutions uses soldering and cutting techniques, vacuum and injection molding to manufacture components and tools for a variety of machines and industries. Catering to the company’s original market, Ouro Fino Solutions now operates in a modern and forward-thinking way, manufacturing products together with clients to satisfy specific needs. The most advanced computer technology available in the country is used to design industrial parts for clients such as Ford, Volkswagen, LG Philips and Knorr Bremse.
As the company expanded, one of the first alternative products manufactured in plastic was the bath tub. Now, Ouro Fino Relax produces a range of Jacuzzi bath tubs, hot tubs and spas. The product range includes wall mountable hydro-massage equipment and tubs in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors according to the clients’ requirements, as well as accessories such as in-tub lighting, covers, pumps and motors. For the last 15 years, the brand has been the number one supplier of bath tubs, according to the Brazilian Association of Construction Materials.
In 1983 Grupo Ouro Fino purchased a swimming pool manufacturing company. The pools, made from fiberglass or vinyl, together with all the necessary accessories for installation such as pool filters, pumps and heat regulators, became the group’s Ouro Fino Acqua line.
The latest addition to the group is Ouro Fino Thermal. Following the acquisition of a solar power specialist, Ouro Fino began supplying complete gas and solar heating systems and heat regulators to the construction industry. All of the parts for the equipment are produced by Ouro Fino Thermal, including collector panels (in aluminum or copper) and resin water tanks.
The total area occupied by the group’s four facilities is 124,000 square meters, of which 70,000 square meters are factory space. Three of the units are in the town of Ribeirão Pires in São Paulo, where the company was founded. Here, the plants produce plastic injected products, such as the Jacuzzi tubs, bath tubs and pools, as well as metal tools and components. Another unit in nearby Itapira manufactures spas and water treatment equipment, including basic sanitary systems for Ouro Fino’s ranges. The group directly employs 450 people and has an additional 200 collaborators.
PIONEERS IN ACRYLIC
Although the factory machinery at Ouro Fino is available to all manufacturers in the industry, the company was the first to develop technology for the production of the acrylic bath tub. The equipment was designed and developed in-house in 1989.
The broad range of products manufactured by the group allows operations to be vertically integrated. Materials are purchased in their raw state from companies such as the petrochemical giants, Braskem, and construction material specialists, Saint Gobain. The majority of Ouro Fino’s products are made from resin, fiberglass, fiberglass derivatives and polypropylene. Ouro Fino Solutions supplies all the metal components needed for the Relax, Acqua and Thermal lines, even the pumps for the Jacuzzi tubs; in addition, spas, pools and sanitary systems are manufactured on-site. Aside from raw materials, only motors are purchased for the finished products before sale.
“Excellent business relationships are essential to us, both with suppliers, representatives and customers,” says Demétrio Rodrigues, company director.
Ouro Fino sells primarily to construction companies and to distributors all over Brazil, with the state of São Paulo accounting for approximately 65 percent of sales. In 2007 the group recorded an annual turnover of $60 million; a 20 percent increase from 2006. According to Rodrigues, 15 percent of revenue comes from exports to Latin America, Angola and Dubai, and the company is positive about 2008, projecting a further 20 percent increase by the end of the financial year.
Despite the frequently reported economic boom in Brazil, Rodrigues does not attribute the company’s success to a stronger national economy. “We operate mainly in the domestic market and the increase in value of our currency has not greatly affected sales.”
INVESTMENT IN TECHNOLOGY
Since its foundation Ouro Fino has been focused on growth, and it was always the company’s intention to work towards expansion. Constant improvements on existing products and new product lines, as well as acquisitions are also reasons for Ouro Fino’s impressive figures. “We invest heavily in the latest technology, to ensure that our procedures are the most advanced in the industry,” adds Rodrigues. A large part of these investments have been directed at Ouro Fino Thermal. The solar power division of the company is the fastest growing, and the strategic decision to develop this sector has undoubtedly contributed to the company’s growth. The search for alternative sources of power, and greater concern for the environment, has increased interest in solar energy. For the last five years the Brazilian Association of Construction Materials has named Ouro Fino the number one supplier of solar heating equipment.
Ouro Fino’s achievements are commendable in a highly competitive market. All of the divisions have direct competitors, which demands aggressive sales strategies. In addition, “Ouro Fino is a traditional, well-established company; we are ISO certified and have a full and complete range of products,” says Rodrigues.
The newest of the group’s divisions work with luxury items. Spas, Jacuzzi tubs and swimming pools are affordable to only a comparatively small part of the country’s population. However, the growth and success of Ouro Fino has meant the company has been able to reduce the price on such products, which not only maintains competitiveness, but also increases the accessibility of Ouro Fino’s products, and boosts sales.
The sun is certainly shining on Ouro Fino, with top selling products, and excellent projected sales. The ability to apply expertise and identify market opportunities guarantees the group will continue to bathe in success.