Approximate reading time: 5 minutes
INTERVIEW WITH CRISTÓBAL CAPARRÓS, TECNOLOGIC BERALMAR MANAGER
Presenting today's interviewee is equivalent to taking a look back at the history of BERALMAR. Cristóbal Caparrós started with the company in 1966, when BERALMAR had been around for only two years. In his 44 years with the company, he has gone from being an installer to his current position as managing partner. Most of his experience has been as sales manager of the Spanish market, so we are speaking with an eyewitness of the company's history.
BERALMAR NEWSLETTER: You've seen the company grow practically from the very beginning until today. Was BERALMAR expected to become what it is today, back in the '60s?
CRISTÒFOL CAPARRÓS: In the 60s BERALMAR only manufactured fuel oil burners and hot air generators, and only for the Spanish market. Today BERALMAR exports over 90% of its turnover to about 50 countries and offers a variety of proprietary technology for drying, firing and automation. No, this was not at all expected in the 60s!
B.N.: You probably didn't expect to manage and own the company either.
C.C.: Obviously not. Management of the company was entrusted to me, together with Ramón Sarió, following the 1982 crisis when the company's viability was severely jeopardised. The former owners believed that the only option to ensure its survival was for decisions to be taken by the people in direct contact with day-to-day operations.
B.N.: And it obviously did survive...
C.C.: At that time the crisis was very deep, and we survived it by finding new applications for our products. The sale of heat-generating equipment for the agricultural industry gave us plenty of breathing space. Once the crisis was over we understood that the best safeguard against future crises was to diversify our portfolio and markets. We adjusted our business model, slowly but surely expanding our offering while increasing our global presence. That proved to be a good strategy, and it is still in force, because in the current economic environment we are doing rather well.
B.N.: Are you referring to the Spanish market?
C.C.: Not exclusively, but particularly the Spanish market, yes. In recent years the Spanish market accounted for about 30% of our turnover. It is now a depressed market which now accounts a very small portion of our total invoicing. And this is unlikely to change any time soon. Fortunately, for many years now BERALMAR has served many other markets. Earning respect and recognition abroad has required much effort, but we are now reaping the results. Market penetration does not happen overnight. And in our sector, in which trust is crucial, much time and tenacity are required to create a leading presence in each market. And the Spanish market is not the only one going through a bad patch.
B.N.: Among other things, you are currently the sales manager for the Spanish market. What do you dedicate your time to at the moment?
C.C.: I've been serving the Spanish market for about 40 years, and I can say I have more friends than clients, which is saying a lot since 80% of Spanish ceramics have BERALMAR equipment. But of course right now my time is better spent supporting the export department, and that's what I'm doing. But the Spanish market will regain its importance. All crises end, by definition!
B.N.: BERALMAR's portfolio grew substantially last year. Growing the workforce in times of crisis?
C.C.: Yes, since 2009 we provide a complete range of automation solutions. As providers of kilns and dryers, not being able to offer automation solutions was a definite drawback. Many clients required a comprehensive solution, but automation equipment is very delicate, and there is no room for improvisation in this field. Thanks to a combination of good luck and good business instinct, we were able to put together a top-notch team of professionals with invaluable experience and recognition in this field. It is not the first time this happens to us. Crises are also opportunities!
B.N.: You are a privileged witness of BERALMAR's history. What does the future hold?
C.C.: No one knows the future. I don't believe in crystal balls. But if there is hard work, rigor, consistency, quality and reliability -- in short, the values that have brought us this far -- I do not know what the future will be, but there will certainly be a future. Good work always has its rewards.
BERALMAR IN THE POLISH CERAMIST CONVENTION
BERALMAR has again been present at the Polish Ceramist Convention, which was held on 17 and 18 June in Karnity, in the lake district of northern Poland, an area of great potential for tourism. This spectacular north-central region of the country deserves special mention. The landscape is dominated by deep green tones of forests and meadows, intense blue hues of hundreds of lakes, and dozens of red-brick 19th-century castles.
In this edition of the Polish Ceramist Convention BERALMAR gave a presentation as usual, in this case on "Alternative fuels for the ceramic industry" by Joanna Nalewajko. This presentation showcased BERALMAR's experience in firing equipment for alternative fuels such as biomass, biogas and syngas, and a discussion of the strong points of using these fuels, characterised by their low cost, zero CO2 emissions and the generation of additional income from the sale of CO2 emission rights.