As the Brazilian automotive industry revs its engines, many international suppliers have been left grinding their gears. The economic crisis has been a bumpy road for many manufacturers, but for Indústria Rei it has been a smooth ride. Last year the company, which has a production capacity of 500 thousand automotive parts a month, manufactured 5.5 million components and aims to increase this to 6.5 million in 2010. As well as leading the national market in light and heavy transmission parts, Rei also exports to more than 75 countries across Latin America, Central America, Asia, Africa and Europe.
Founded in 1960 in Cajuru, São Paulo, Indústria Rei was created by Luiz Constâncio, who had invented and patented an auto part that withstood the vibration and trepidation of transmission axles in buses and trucks. The part was called Suporte Rei and as a revolutionary invention set the ball rolling for the new company. Steady success ensued and both staff and premises grew to meet the increasing demands of a receptive market. In 1974, machinery for the production of the rubber parts used in the Suporte Rei was purchased and began the vertical integration of the company. Nine years later, following heavy investment, Indústria Rei moved into its current facility that covers 84 thousand square meters.
After the passing of its industrious founder, the company is now in the hands of his five children who have emulated his work philosophy and share his passion for innovation. Today, Indústria Rei is a conglomerate, whose vertically integrated divisions are strategically segmented and interlinked at the plant in Cajuru. Each houses the most up-to-date technology available in the sector and production of the parts is synchronized to maximize efficiency.
Developing the idea of the rubber molding machinery bought in the 1970s, Indústria Rei now has a 300-hectare plantation of 80 thousand trees located 13 miles from the facility. Almost half of these trees are already productive and provide latex for the parts. In 2000 the company launched its cast iron division, which liaises with its own foundry in Arceburgo in the neighboring state of Minas Gerais. The foundry, which is just 40 miles from the main plant, is responsible for 100 percent of the cast parts used in Indústria Rei’s components. The strict adherence to the original policy of linear production and self-sufficiency ignores the current trend of outsourcing and increases the quality and cost efficiency of the company’s products.
The changes tripled Indústria Rei’s production capacity and resulted in a significant improvement in quality and sales volumes. Investing in the business to accompany new products and developments in the automotive industry is a constant focus for the company. “In total we have invested over $2 million in technological improvements, construction work, and a completely new computerized structure,” confirms Company Director João Constâncio.
“Ever since the beginning, Indústria Rei has concentrated on developing new technology and techniques for the constant improvement of our products,” Constâncio continues. The company has been ISO 9002 certified since 1999 and also holds the ISO-9001:2000, issued by the Det Norske Veritas for all of the parts manufactured.
The quality of the materials and finish of the products are essential. The rubber components, for example, are subjected to cryogenic and deburring processes before application and metal pieces are treated with ceramic chips to obtain the best possible finishes. The cast and stamped parts undergo many stages of quality control, during which the best technology for anti-corrosion and rubber adhesion is used to guarantee the longer life of the final product.
The production phases are overseen by a specialized and experienced team that offers all the necessary support both physically and technologically. The team analyzes the processes and information received in Indústria Rei’s modern research laboratory at its main factory, carrying out research and providing designs for effective solutions. These designs are another means for the company to guarantee quality and reduce costs. They also serve as a basis for the selection and study of raw materials, formulation of quality control procedures and standardization manufacturing methods.
However, before the product is ultimately launched on the market, further tests are made. “As well as laboratory testing, our parts are tested in the field in farming vehicles, mining machinery, buses, coaches and cargo trucks. Only when we are com- pletely satisfied with their performance is the part manufactured for general release,” says Constâncio. The rigorous and thorough testing procedure is an important part of the company’s mission to satisfy the customer 100 percent.
GEARING UP FOR GROWTH
The policy has proved to be more than successful for Indústria Rei, which reports annual growth averaging 10 percent in the last decade. “Through commitment and tradition we have become one of the market leaders – proof that technology and constant improvement are factors that the consumer looks for,” Constâncio continues. The steady growth has been purely organic, winning new client contracts on the domestic market by virtue of offering a uniquely designed product in the automotive sector. “The continuous investment and excellent performance of the products in comparison to competitors, also opened the doors to international sales,” he says. Today, Indústria Rei supplies Mercedes, Ford, Volkswagen, Chevrolet, Fiat, Mitsubishi, Scania, Volvo and Toyota among other leading manufacturers.
The strategy for growth does not end there. The company’s commitment to quality is not only valid for its products, but also staff and public relations. Constâncio considers investment in human resources “an essential part of achieving results and maintaining growth.” In 2008, Indústria Rei won the national Brazilian SESI Prize (for Quality in the Workplace) and has always implemented management procedures that value the employees, investing in personal development and job satisfaction. Inevitably, among other obvious benefits, there has been an increase in productivity and in competitiveness in the market.
Indústria Rei has also participated in social programs that have improved the lives of those living in the Cajuru region. The company’s efforts are aimed at careful consideration of economic and social needs to achieve stable and healthy growth. “Our company was born 50 years ago from the dreams of a mechanic and today lives in a social and industrial balance – we are currently involved in 46 projects,” Constâncio explains. The projects include educational, environmental and sports incentives. The global consciousness of the company shows its dedication to understanding growth as a product of internal and external relations.
Maximum quality and minimum costs are central to Rei’s strategy. A differentiated and personalized service from a family firm, before, during and after sales also offers maximum security and satisfaction. While steadying the axles of its many clients, the company is shaking up competitors with ongoing top performance. Constantly stepping up a gear to meet the growing demands of the market, Indústria Rei is cruising comfortably toward continued success.