When Thor Granitos — now the largest industrial exporter of processed granites in Latin America — first opened its factory doors in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1986, a relatively small staff was employed to handle the daily operations of its 490,000-square-foot facility. A little more than 12 years later, in 1999, the company was experiencing tremendous growth and development, and it made the decision to close down its Rio factory and relocate more than 12 hours north to Barra de São Francisco, Espirito Santo, in order to be more cost-effective and better serve its universal market.

The relocation, which was finalized last year, was the largest expansion project Thor Granitos has ever undergone. “In 1999, the initial idea was to send the cut slabs to the Rio factory, but in order to be more cost-effective, we took advantage of the recession [in 2006] and decided to shut down the entire factory and expand, concentrate and consolidate,” said sales manager João Guilherme Petrelli. “We finished the move at the end of 2012, and last year [2013], we added some more brand new machinery — mostly multi-wire saws. Now, we are still adding some new machinery, such as the microwave system and two more polishing machines.”

Thor Granitos has certainly upped the ante with its new 1,130,211-square-foot complex — spanning more than 2 times the size of its Rio factory — which was built closer to its 28 active quarries and raw materials in order to cut costs and travel time. “[The new factory] is more cost efficient because we spend less on freight [transporting the blocks from the quarry] and travel time is better,” said Petrelli.

The Barra de São Francisco factory also includes a brigade of innovative Italian machinery by Pedrini and Gaspari Menotti, which has been gradually added over the years to prepare for the expansion. “[In all], we’ve added new multi-wire saws, a polishing machine, a micro-oven system, vacuum resining, gangsaws, a tile line and a block cutter,” said Petrelli. “The reasons why we continue to invest in new equipment are to increase our production scale, reduce the cost in order to remain competitive in the market, and to remain constant with quality improvement.”

Distributed throughout the new factory are six tile block cutters, two tile lines, seven multi-wire saws, six polishing machines, a micro-oven system, three vacuum ovens and five gangsaws. The most recent additions are the multi-wire saws and the microwave system, which are used to assist in the processing of basic and exotic granite and marble slabs, Petrelli said.

“Our tile project started back in 2002 in Rio de Janeiro, with one Pedrini Block Cutter M594 (with 56 discs) and one Pedrini tile line,” explained Petrelli. “In 2004, we added the second [block cutter], the Pedrini Block Cutter M596, now with 80 discs, and two independent loaders, enabling us to cut vertically and horizontally at the same time — increasing productivity. In 2005, we installed our second M596, reaching a monthly capacity of 650,000 square feet. And in 2012, [seven years after we decided to move the factory], we added two new, 56-disc Pedrini Block Cutter M594s, and a second tile line, reaching our current production capacity of 1 million square feet per month to meet our foreign and domestic demand.”

Along with the big move and recent mechanical upgrades, Thor Granitos has also found time to dedicate part of its mission towards “going green.” “All of the water we use in the factory is recycled, and we also capture water from the rain to use in our process,” said Petrelli. “All of our trash is separated by substance to be reused, and in our quarries, we also have some spaces to raise trees.” With the expansion, the company also updated its water treatment facility to ensure 100% of its water continues to be recycled and repurposed.

The company currently employs 850 workers, 200 of which work in the quarries that yield a monthly production of approximately 1.6 million square feet of polished material (granite, marble or quartzite) — or 400 containers. With all of the mechanical additions throughout the years, Thor Granitos’ new factory is now producing almost double the amount of what they were producing just seven years ago, which they also hope to increase in the future. The production capacity now is 450 containers per month, and our goal is to reach 600 containers per month.

Some of the types of stone produced include Santa Cecilia, Venetian Ice, New Venetian Gold, Crema Delicatus, Crema Typhoon, Centauros, Blue Macaubas, Bordeaux and Dallas White. Thor Granitos’ quarries are located throughout the states of Espírito Santo, Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro, Pernambuco and Paraíba. “All tile sizes and colors are available in honed, polished and brushed finishes at the best distributors around the world,” said Petrelli. “We are the only Brazilian company capable of delivering large projects of calibrated and beveled tiles on all standard sizes, and since 2012, thanks to our new Pedrini line, we can also deliver exotic stones, such as Taj Mahal or Centauros, in special sizes like 18 x 36 and 24 x 48 inches.”