In the 1940s two young, entrepreneurial Brazilian brothers began producing equipment for farmers in their home town of Matão, in the state of São Paulo. Their early wares, geared for the nascent, non-mechanized Brazilian agribusiness, were simple, made of wood and were pulled across the fields by work animals. Armando and Luiz Marchesan probably never imagined that over the course of a few decades their small workshop would change and flourish so dramatically. But thanks to the brothers’ innovative spirit and practical nature, Marchesan S/A has been meeting the ever-growing demands of Brazil’s thriving agricultural sector and is now one of the largest businesses of its kind in Latin America. The company takes advantage of the latest technology and produces high-quality, durable mechanized machines, equipment and parts for agriculture in Brazil and around the world. Armando and Luiz are alive and well and guiding the company as president and vice president.
To follow the history of Marchesan is to trace the line of the history of Brazilian agribusiness. Both had humble beginnings and have shown steady growth and increased mechanization over the past decades. The company founded by the Marchesan brothers now boasts 220,000 square meters of factory space where 2,500 specialized employees manufacture a full range of farm equipment, machinery and parts for all phases of agriculture. From tillers, to seeders, to harvesters and more Marchesan and its Tatu brand are facilitating agricultural practices. In 1970, as Brazilian farming became more mechanized, the brothers kept up with the times and began producing mechanized and tractor-pulled equipment. Marchesan’s modern harvesters, tillers and other equipment work the immense expanses of Brazil’s farmland and play a significant role in the cultivation of important crops like sugar cane, soya and citrus. The company even makes specialized machines for use with sugar cane cultivation.
In addition to keeping – or even setting – the pace of the expansion of the Brazilian agriculture market, since 1980, Marchesan has successfully reached across borders. Marchesan products are sold in the United States, Mexico, Canada, Africa and other countries across the globe. Exports now account for 25 percent of its sales. The company’s customers abroad have access to the full line of products but Marchesan also customizes its exports to meet specific needs of its foreign buyers. For example, Marchesan tailors its wares to respect the 13-meter maximum width allowable for farm equipment to be driven on European highways (in Brazil, equipment is transported on trucks and is not subject to such limits).
LOOKING INTO THE FARMING FUTURE
As a producer of trusted farm equipment and machinery, Marchesan is already the leader in the market when it comes to aiding in soil preparation, planting, cultivation and harvest, yet the company continues to improve the quality of its equipment to allow for greater precision and, in turn, increased productivity in agricultural practices. “Our product development department is always looking two years ahead and actually works with the producers in the fields to understand their needs,” boasts Marchesan’s commercial director, Francisco Matturro. He adds, “Our people live with the farmers.” The company’s product development department has 150 employees including both technical and agriculture engineers and technical staff.
Given its commitment to providing clients – the folks who count on Marchesan equipment for their livelihood in the fields – with high quality, durable products and excellent technical assistance, it is no wonder the company has a fine reputation and sales numbers to prove it. When asked about monthly financial results, Matturro explains, “We don’t measure that way because we have many products and our sales are seasonal. We don’t work with these numbers, even internally.” He did, however, venture an annual estimated earnings forecast of US$400 million for 2008.
ENVIRONMENTALLY SOUND PRACTICES
Understanding the importance of environmental awareness in business and in agriculture nowadays, Matturro says that Marchesan prides itself on the fact that “all our work is conservationist because our equipment is all made for no-till planting, which leaves old plant material in place to enrich the soil, unlike industrial style planting.” Brazil currently has 25 million hectares of land upon which direct planting is practiced. Marchesan is proud to produce equipment used in efficient and environmentally friendly farming practices.
One of the company’s core values is expressed in the slogan on its Web site: “The best of Brazil is the Brazilians.” Indeed, Marchesan recognizes the role that its committed and well-trained workers have played – and continue to play – in developing the company’s reputation as a model in the mechanization of agriculture in Brazil. And as a way of living out this belief Marchesan provides all employees and their children with paid technical/vocational training to make them eligible to work at Marchesan’s facilities or at other companies. For young people 15 years and older, a program involving study and paid apprenticeship with Marchesan is available. The company shows its civic spirit through financial assistance for construction and continued maintenance of a major hospital in Matão.
READY, WILLING AND ABLE TO EXPAND INTO THE FUTURE
When we look at what the future may hold for Marchesan, we see that Brazil’s land is ready and willing to be farmed and Marchesan is able to provide equipment for growth. Brazil is gaining fame and fortune thanks to the burgeoning market for cane-based ethanol. Currently around seven million hectares in Brazil are planted with sugar cane and, according to Matturro, the country has enough ready, arable land that it does not need to sacrifice resources and land for food to make room for cane cultivation. Matturro points out that Brazil has plenty of room to expand. “And we’re not talking about the Amazon, we’re talking available land in the central eastern and central southern part of the country.” Brazil currently produces 140 million tons of cereals (corn, rice, soya, beans) yearly on 47 million hectares and is the second largest producer of soya – surpassed only by the United States – and the greatest exporter. Matturro predicts that forthcoming improvements in cattle ranching and grazing techniques will permit more cows on fewer acres and thus open even more land for farming, without resorting to deforestation. Marchesan will certainly be a key player in the expansion of agriculture in Brazil.