Brazil Serves as Expansion Site for Many U.S. Companies
December 1, 2010

Saint Gobain is the latest of several companies to announce expansions into Brazil, proving that this is indeed a growing market. Saint Gobain’s new plant will be capable of producing 600 tons of flat glass a day to supply the Brazilian construction and automotive markets.

Viracon announced its plans recently to expand into Brazil and the Latin American market. Viracon Inc. has acquired 100 percent of the stock of GlassecVidros de SegurancaLtda, an architectural glass fabricator in Brazil. Glassec will become part of Viracon and be called GlassecViracon.

Additionally, Guardian Industries has been heavily involved in the Brazilian market for the past 12 years and added a new coater at its Porto Real, Brazil, float glass plant in May of this year, which is located near Sao Paulo. The company also opened a second float glass plant in Brazil this year in the city of Tatui near Rio de Janeiro.

These are just a few examples of companies who are expanding into this burgeoning market. USGNN.com™ spoke to representatives from Guardian and Viracon to learn more about this growing industry in Brazil and Latin America.

Earnest Thompson, director of corporate marketing and brand management for Guardian Industries says the company identified Brazil as a growth market more than ten years ago when it built its first plant outside of San Paulo.

Russ Huffer, chief executive officer of Apogee Enterprises, says Viracon has always had a significant international presence, although until now it has not had a presence in Brazil.

“We have glass on eight or nine of the tallest buildings today located around the world,” Huffer says. “To remain competitive we knew we had to look at having operations overseas. Brazil has one of best economies—and it’s a market that likes to have value-added glass on tall buildings.” Guardian commented on this fact as well.

“During the past ten years we began to see that the majority of our customers are investing in value-added processes, fabricating, laminating, etc.,” Thompson says, so the company works to meet the needs of those customers. “We make a variety of products at our plant there including low-E and solar control for both residential and commercial applications.”

In the case of Viracon, Huffer says, “It’s a market we had no ability to enter due to duties, etc. … We knew we had to do an acquisition because we didn’t have a presence there.”

As the company searched for the right opportunity it came across glassec, which was interested in selling so the timing was perfect.

Thompson adds that the company’s “global strategy has helped us overall” and that Brazil is “definitely a growth area.”

Earlier this year, GIMAV, the Italian association of suppliers of glass processing machinery and accessories, reported that the Brazilian glass industry has been experiencing a surge in growth and glass consumption has been rising steadily, growing 37 percent in 2008, 2009, and is tipped for 22 percent growth in 2010.

A representative for Saint Gobain told USGNN.com™ that the new Cebrace float in Brazil will meet the domestic demand for flat glass which is growing in Brazil at a rate of 7 percent a year.

“With this float, the sixth for Cebrace in Brazil, Saint-Gobain will reach a new milestone in its growth strategy in emerging countries,” says William Seiberlich, communications manager for Saint-Gobain North America. “The flat glass business of Saint-Gobain aims to achieve 46 percent of its sales in emerging countries by 2015, compared to 40 percent in 2010, and intends to earmark to them 75 percent of its capital expenditure over the next five years.”

Thompson points out that growth in this region will definitely continue through the next several years as many high profile events will be taking place there—namely the World Cup in 2014 and the Summer Olympics in 2016.
“We are pleased to be able to be involved in those projects, and all the infrastructure that goes along with those events,” he adds. “We already have customers there and they know us pretty well so we look forward to working with them on various projects.”

Huffer echoes those sentiments and is excited to be part of many of those new infrastructure projects as well.
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