Adjusting to a Changing Marketplace
April 1, 2009
Pemagran was founded in the stone-rich area of Cachoeiro de Itapemirim, Espírito Santo, Brazil, in 1979 by husband and wife - Calbir Valente Sandrini and Corsina de Moraes Sandrini. Today, the factory is directed by their sons, Cláudio L. de Moraes Sandrini and Adriano de Moraes Sandrini, and it is continually upgrading its operations and material selection to satisfy its clients.
The principal market of the Pemagran Group is North America, followed by Europe and the Middle East, and the company promotes itself at international trade fairs such as Coverings in the U.S., Marmomacc in Verona, Italy, Stone+tec in Nuremberg, Germany, and the Vitória Stone Fair in Brazil.
In Brazil, Pemagran maintains an extremely well-organized warehouse and factory in Cachoeiro. Each block is numbered, and Pemagran has also developed an open warehouse environment, where customers can comfortably browse the material selection.
The company’s processing factory, which is adjacent to the warehouse, features a total of three processing lines, the newest of which is a 24-head automated polisher from Barsanti of Italy. Meanwhile, the older MGM polisher is being used for honing operations.
At the end of this polishing line is an automated system that takes a digital photograph of each slab so it can be included in the “virtual inventory” on Pemagran’s Web site.
Prior to final polishing, the slabs are treated with resin products from Tenax, and due to the unique nature of each slab, the product is applied manually. The materials are then placed in driers to assist in the curing process.
In all, the current equipment lineup includes more than 20 gangsaws, three automatic polishing lines, two resin lines and one large-scale drier - among other machinery. The total production capacity is more than 150 containers per month, although the actual amount of material processed varies based on customer needs.
Pemagran’s primary export products come from the Iberê Line of exotics, and they include a broad cross section of colors and tones. Materials in the line include Crema Bordeaux, Bordeaux Light, Mombasa, Tycoon Green, Tycoon Blue and several others. One of the most unique materials in the Iberê Line is Mari Blue, which is characterized by a black tone with waves of white and dramatic blue accents.
Other exotics include stones such as Golden Sky, Typhoon Bordeaux, X-Terra, Lapidus and others. Pemagran also supplies classic Brazilian materials such as Giallot Fiorito, Butterfly Green, New Venetian Gold, Giallo Ornamentalle, Peacock, Santa Cecilia Classic, Santa Cecilia Gold and others.
In addition to displays of the various slab materials, Pemagran has developed a preserve on its premises in Cachoeiro where it has reclaimed the land to create a pond, gardens and outdoor barbecue area. This serves as an area for the company to entertain clients, and it also showcases some of the company’s material innovations, such as the textured stone columns (referred to as “Espacato.”)
With an eye on the future, the Pemagran Group is continually exploring new quarry operations and considering new areas for exploration - including both classic and exotic materials. Pemagran’s extraction capacity has been enhanced by large investments in quarrying equipment over the past few years.
When developing new quarry sites or working existing deposits, the Pemagran Group strives to work in conjunction with the local communities.
Sales EffortsCurrently, the company processes 65,000 square meters of slabs each month, and it exports a total of 50 containers each month. A total of 80% of production goes to the U.S., and Pemagran is also looking to increase its presence in other foreign markets such as elsewhere in Latin America, Eastern Europe and the Middle East.
The company focuses its sales efforts on distributors, and it is continually working to improve overall communication to its clients as well as the final customer, explained Cláudio L. de Moraes Sandrini, Director of Pemagran. “We are working step by step, and we have added products to provide convenience and enhance relations with our top customers.” An example of production additions is a new tile line from Pemagran. These polished tiles are also treated for slip resistance and anti-bacterial properties.
In terms of sales by product type, Sandrini said that exotics are still key, but they are also carrying basic materials to accommodate clients with more cost-conscious customers, and they are mixing containers as needed.
Sandrini went on to say that while its market for new construction is slow, distributors that are focusing on the remodeling business are doing okay. This is particularly beneficial to the sales of exotic materials, as homeowners who are remodeling tend to want something different from the norm.
Looking down the road, Sandrini expects the rebound to be gradual. “We believe levels will grow a little over the next two years, but they will not reach where they were in 2005 or 2006,” he said. “In any event, we are always looking for new ways to improve quality and relations with our customers.”