Steady Expansion for Nearly 20 Years
April 1, 2009
Beyond the coffee fields and mountains of Brazil’s southern Espírito Santo State lies the town of Castelo, where Bramagran Brasileiro Marmore e Granito Ltda. has been processing stone since 1990. And over the past two decades, the company has shown progressive expansion in material selection and processing equipment.
The principal owners of Bramagran are Eutemar Venturim and Jose Carlos Machado, and the company began with two gangsaws to provide cutting services for larger stone producers. By 1995, however, the factory included four gangsaws and three one-head polishing machines as it began to process stone for its own sales department.
Over the past decade, Bramagran has continued to expand and invest, adding gangsaws and automated multi-head polishing lines. Today, the company has eight Cimef gangsaws at the main factory, and there are four additional gangsaws at a separate cutting facility to serve the local market.
In terms of polishing, Bramagran has three automated slab polishers from MGM, the latest of which was added this past November. Each of these units is equipped with 20 polishing heads for optimal efficiency.
Slabs are treated with resin, and due to the company’s broad selection of unique materials, the most effective method is to apply the resin by hand and then allow the slabs to cure in driers from Rosh Industrial.
The factory has the capability of producing 120 containers of material per month, and it has exported more than 100 containers in a single month on occasion. However, given the current economy, Bramagran is currently producing between 40 and 45 containers on average per month, and it is focusing on working with a broad range of material types - including exotics - with a special emphasis on quality.
There are a total of 140 workers in the factory and 160 in the quarries. A total of 17 materials from Bramagran are extracted from company-owned quarries.
Sales and MarketingBramagran classifies materials into three main categories: “Classic,” “Exotic” and “Super Exotic.” In the area of Super Exotics, the company has developed a special viewing area within the warehouse specifically for these materials.
This shift towards exotic materials represents an expansion in the buying tastes of Bramagran’s customers from earlier this decade. “Even a few years ago, people wanted Classics more than anything else,” explained Rafael Mello, Export Manager for Bramagran. “We are now moving towards Exotics and Super Exotics. We really added a lot more in the last year. Our customers were asking for exotics, so we really made an effort.”
Mello added, however, that Bramagran must be cautious to be sure they are marketing products in colors and shades that will be popular with consumers - particularly in a sluggish economy. For example, slabs in tones of brown are currently drawing interest in the international marketplace. “Customers are also looking for materials they know they can sell, so we are seeing less sales of materials that are unproven in the market,” Mello said.
A total of 70% of Bramagran’s production is exported, with the remaining material - mostly commercial grade stone - sold domestically.
Approximately 90% of Bramagran’s exports go to the U.S., and the company sells primarily to distributors, according to Mello, who added that the company’s distribution is well spread across the U.S. “We have good coverage on the East Coast, and Texas has been a good market for us,” Mello said. “Most of the 3-cm markets we deal with have been holding up okay, but some of the 2-cm markets, like Miami and California, are slow.”
Bramagran markets itself on a worldwide level by advertising in international trade magazines and by exhibiting at trade fairs such as Coverings in the U.S., Marmomacc in Verona, Italy, and The Vitória Stone Fair in Brazil. Additionally, Mello and another sales representative, Rudi Brandrao, regularly travel to the U.S. to visit customers.
In addition to the U.S., Bramagran exports materials to Venezuela, and it has also begun exporting to Dubai and Russia.
Looking at the worldwide market, Mello was cautiously optimistic. “At one point, we will recover,” he explained. “I think that by 2010, the market will start to pick up. It won’t be like 2005/2006, but it will pick up. I see this time as an opportunity. We are getting good prices on blocks, and we are looking for new good customers.”
Bramagran will be present at Coverings 2009, which is set to take place in Chicago, IL, from April 21 to 24.