When Thor Granitos e Mares Ltda. of Itaborai Rio di Janeiro, Brazil, was established 20 years ago, it was a simple marble company focused on the national market, working mainly for construction companies. But as time went on and the Brazilian stone industry expanded, it grew into one of the nation's largest exporters, with the U.S. as a principal market.

"As the orders increased [in the beginning], the company expanded its activities to meet demands," explained Zenildo Petrelli, who owns the company along with Antonio Terroso. "It became a sawmill company and, later on, it acquired several quarries. In a short period of time, there was significant growth. Nowadays, 75% of the production comes from our own quarries or exclusive ones, offering more than 50 varieties of granite. This material is brought daily to the plant, which has an area of 35,000 square meters, located in the vicinity of Rio di Janeiro."

The sawmill contains the latest equipment from Italy, including a polishing line and gangsaws. "Today, full capacity to saw the blocks and prepare the slabs is about 40,000 square meters per month," Petrelli said, adding that installed capacity for tile production is 12,000 square meters per month. A subsidiary company, Thor Tiles, will have a production capacity of 24,000 square meters of tiles per month when it begins operation in the near future.

"Being one of the largest Brazilian export companies, Thor extracts from quarries spread throughout the country, most of them located in Rio di Janeiro and the nearby states of Minas Gerais and Espirito Santo," explained Petrelli, who added that the company's main products include New Venetian Gold, Juparana, Classic Gold, Green Lavras, Blue Guanabara, Black SiBenedito, Green Labrador, Brown Imperial and Green Pav?

Currently, 80% of production is destined to the international market, being exported to countries such as the U.S., Australia, Canada, Mexico, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Chile, Israel, Italy and Japan. Last year, Thor was awarded with the prize "Rio Export" by the Rio di Janeiro Industry Federation for its outstanding performance in granite export.

But even while the company has gained accolades for its work on the international market, it maintains an interest in domestic activities. "Thor continues to represent an important role in the national scenario, taking part in the relevant works of Brazilian Engineering," Petrelli said.

And with the establishment of Thor Tiles, the company expects the tile sector to become an increasingly important focus. "The company is starting a new phase with the creation of Thor Tiles, a unit dedicated to the production of calibrated tiles," Petrelli said. "This project, with only one year of existence, will have the capacity to produce up to 24,000 square meters monthly, with the expectation to handle 36,000 square meters per month in three years."