Brazilian Marble Firms Form United Front to Invade the U.S.

The marble and granite sector in Paraná, in southern Brazil, is becoming international. With their eye on business opportunities that are being opened abroad, ten industries in the metropolitan region of Curitiba, the state capital joined forces and established Brazilian Marble and Granites (BMG).

BMG is establishing itself in Miami Free Zone, in Florida, USA. The idea is to make the site not only a window, but also a center from where counters and marble and granite floors produced in Curitiba may reach US consumers.

BMG is going to be housed in the distribution center that the Brazilian Export Promotion Agency (Apex), connected to the Brazilian Ministry of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade, installed in Miami Free Zone.

Inaugurated on May 16 2005, the Miami distribution center offers operational and administrative support to Brazilian companies, and has an area of 1,000 square meters, divided into storage space, showroom, offices and meeting rooms.

Up to now, a total of 92 companies are installed at the site. Another 130 are waiting in line. Due to the demand, expansion of the area is already being studied.

From last year to date, industries in the marble and granite sector in the metropolitan region of Curitiba have already exported over 120 tons of lavatory and kitchen counters, for a total of US$ 130,000. There is also the forecast of a 40-ton a month supply contract to a buyer in Detroit.

These are memorable achievements as North American customers are only just discovering the advantages of putting ornamental stones in their houses. "They are only now starting to use marble and granite," explained José Georgevan Gomes de Araújo, president of the Union of the Marble and Granite Industries of the state of Paraná (Simagran).

The two most used articles for kitchen and bathroom sink counters in the United States are still tiles and "corean", a resin produced by French multinational company DuPont. One of the reasons that caused the North American customer to prefer them was the price.

The discovery of new veins of ornamental stones, an improvement in the industrial process and expansion of productivity, however, are factors that are contributing to a reduction in the price of the end product. "It is getting better priced. The middle class there is starting to consume marble and granite," revealed the president of the Simagran.

To this may be added the aspect of the economic situation in the United States. The growth is generating an expansion in business in various sectors, especially in those that are directly of interest to businessmen from the state of Paraná:

"Perspectives are good, as they are currently living a good moment in civil construction," analyzed Antônio Humia Dorrio, the owner of Revestimentos Gres, based in Curitiba and on the market for over 40 years. Exports to the North American market are still taking place "at a starting rhythm", but they have great chances of growth, he bets.

Preparation

The marble works in the metropolitan region of Curitiba are maneuvering so as to surf this tide. Preparations started two years ago when Imagran, Tambaú, Margon, Marmopark, Marmoraria Benato, Revestimentos Gres, Marmoraria Vardânega, Costacurta, Dutra’s Pedras and ELF Mármores established a pool of companies, which resulted in the creation of BMG.

With the technical and financial support of the Apex, the partners joined forces, standardized procedures and invested in personnel training and in end product quality.

A focus on production management, unification of production processes – obtained through the use of common tools – and on an increase in the purchase volume – which guaranteed better price negotiations on inputs and raw materials – increased company competitiveness.

Being in the Miami distribution center may be seen as a corollary of this process. It means expansion of business opportunities to levels that are currently only imagined.

"Operating there is a great impulse for the company. It becomes better known and gains experience," observed the president of the Simagran.

Access of BMG to the Miami Free Zone is becoming more viable thanks to negotiations between the marble and granite sector and the federal government.

Over the last two years the Brazilian Association for Dimension Stones Industry (Abirochas) and the Apex have been talking with the objective of promoting sector foreign sales. It was not a coincidence that in this period the ten companies in the state of Paraná joined forces.

As it is a customs warehouse, clearance of the products for export is done in a more agile and concentrated manner. Apart from that, the fact that the product is already in the country where the sale will be made speeds up delivery and helps guarantee efficient post-sales.

Another benefit is the economy of scale. The union of various companies in the same space also makes better negotiations with Miami Free Zone possible and this price reduction is passed onto the businessman and, in the long run, to the end user.

The Miami distribution center is the first of a series that the Brazilian federal government wants to install around the world through the Apex.

Omar Nasser is from the Fiep (Federation of Industries of the State of Paraná).

Anba – www.anba.com.br

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