ADIMRA – Noviembre 2011
“THE BUSINESS INDUSTRY HAS A MAXIMUM RESPONSIBILITY IN NATIONAL LIFE”
I was born in Tandil on January 5, 1948 into a family of Spanish origin. My grandparents came from the Almería region. My father, Damián, was a teacher at a border school in Neuquén and died in a snowfall at the age of twenty-three, when I was barely three months old. My mother, Dolores, took care of my upbringing as an only child. She worked as a teacher and she knew how to mark me with her attitude towards work. My childhood was humble, although I never lacked for anything. Thanks to a scholarship, I was able to study in primary school at the San José de Tandil school. Later, between '61 and '66, I attended secondary school at the National School of Technical Education in the city. I chose industrial training under the influence of my paternal uncles, with whom I spent the summer holidays in Córdoba. They had a motorcycle workshop, and they instilled in me a passion for "irons". I was a standard-bearer and president of the student group. My secondary education was crowned with a cruise study trip to Brazil. I keep beautiful memories of youth in an active city like Tandil, of the "assaults" that we organized in family homes. There, in my student days, I met Norma, my wife. I was sixteen and she was fourteen. I was always very sporty. I played soccer, and I even got to play professionally for the Ramón Santamarina club. I also excelled in athletics.
The beginnings in metallurgy
I started working at a very young age, while I was in the last years of primary school. My first job was repairing curlers. I used to go to the hairdressers in Tandil on my bicycle, picking up damaged curlers, repairing them and returning them back. With that he made me a few pesos.
I had my first industrial job when I was finishing 3rd year of high school. I entered the engineering area of Metalúrgica Tandil. When I finished high school, I moved to Córdoba to study Metallurgical Engineering at the National Technological University. I started in '67, in the midst of a strong student effervescence. I lived the "Cordobazo" from within, from a position of great involvement.
While I was studying, I started working at LOFRAH, the most important foundry in Córdoba. I started in the engineering area and retired after seven years, already graduated from college, as the company's technology manager. Mario Franzosi, one of the owners, marked me a lot for the rest of my business life.
An industrial project
In 1971, when I was only twenty-two years old, I founded PRODISMO S.R.L., along with five other partners. We pooled everyone's Christmas bonuses, bought a lathe and a milling machine, and began to make models. Our first client was LOFRAH, the company where we worked, who supported the initiative and gave us great help during the early days. Five years later, we already had our own building, important machines and a staff of about 50 people. Two of the founding partners had withdrawn shortly after starting. In June of '79, the last three left. I was left alone, with a staff of about twenty employees, the machines and the company name. Those were difficult times, of great loneliness. All the responsibility rested on my shoulders. But it didn't discourage me. My objective was clear: I wanted to make an industry.
At that time, I started with the manufacture of tooling for the aeronautical industry, participating in different projects of the Argentine Aircraft Factory, such as Pampa, Pucará and CBA 123 (ARG - BR). We provided fixtures, stamping tools, molds and other capital goods for specific use for different parts of the aircraft. Those tasks allowed us to overcome the difficult times of Martínez de Hoz, when the metallurgical industry suffered serious difficulties due to the commercial opening.
The return of democracy, in 1983, meant the cancellation of the aeronautical projects for which we worked. So we had to go looking for new clients. We find them in automotive companies throughout the region. We completed our first export to Venezuela, in '83, and to Brazil, in '85. Then Mexico joined. My vision was to focus on exports. At that time, 70 percent of our production was sold abroad.
In 1994, we were elected representatives of FANUC ROBOTICS in Argentina, which later gave rise to a partnership with the North American company PICO, the world's largest manufacturer of assembly lines for bodywork. The intention was to develop joint projects in Mercosur, although we also export to Europe. The partnership was later dissolved, but it was very important for allowing us access to world-class technology.
The great crisis
The 2001 crisis was a debacle for the metallurgical industry. That year, everything stopped suddenly. Fortunately, he found us with a very important contract for the supply of tooling for Ford of Brazil and that was what saved us from general paralysis. That same year, we bet on international growth, setting up a factory in the city of Puebla, in Mexico, to serve Volkswagen production. I used to travel to Mexico once a month. My passport attests to 166 trips to Mexico in twenty-five years. My son Damián was in charge of that factory. Although finally, we got rid of that project and rented the factory in Mexico to a German company. It was more a family decision than a business one. Being away implied a great sacrifice on an emotional and family level.
At the beginning of the '80s. PRODISMO worked in a small warehouse on a one-hectare piece of land. Today, we have an 8,000-meter workshop, on a 21-hectare property next to the Córdoba international airport. We have a staff of 160 people, which reaches 300 if we add those who work in the workshops where we have outsourced part of our production.
Our product lines are the same as those of our early days: molds, stamping tools and assembly lines, capital goods for specific use for the automotive, aeronautical and home appliance industries. We have had many invitations to venture into component production, and we have always declined. For us, it has always been a priority to stay focused.
My vision of the business always sought a balance in sales to our three main markets: Argentina, Brazil and Mexico. But today, most of our production is sold in Argentina. In our sector, there is a strong increase in competitive intensity. Most of the Mexican auto parts companies already have purchasing offices in Asia. It is very difficult to sell products from Argentina, due to the increase in internal costs that we have suffered in recent years.
China is a ghost that weighs on all companies in our industry. Traditionally, 45 percent of our production was stamping tools, and 20 percent welding lines. Those proportions were inverted. Today, 50 percent of our sales are welding lines; 30 percent, matrices; and 20 percent, molds for aluminum injection. It is that, in the parent companies, the Chinese competition is almost invincible, due to the volumes and levels of costs that they handle.
The business style: technology and talent management
My role in the company has always been linked to knowledge of the business, production and technology. I never handled finances. A critical activity was the formation of a structure with talented and trusted people. Many of our collaborators began as university interns, even before the internship law existed. Some of our managers were my children's classmates from kindergarten through college. It is that people are the pillar of this business. In this activity you have to create every day. For this reason, we make sure to recruit the best in the different technical institutes of Córdoba.
The other fundamental pillar of this business is technology. Since 2004, we have an agreement with the Spanish engineering company INGEMAT, to develop joint projects in Mercosur and Latin America, basically with regard to clinching technology for moving parts, such as doors, hoods and trunks.
I have always been involved in business union activities, in the different associations of my province. I started at the Chamber of Metallurgical and Components Industrialists of Córdoba. In Alfonsín's time, I was the founder of the Córdoba Metallurgical Export Consortium, and I participated in the guidelines for the founding of ProCórdoba, which promotes Cordoba production for international markets.
From my role as a business union member, I warn that we are concerned about the competition from Chinese imports. For this reason, in 2010, together with different companies from our industry, we formed the Argentine Chamber of Stimping tools and Molds (CAMYM), which I chair today, and which helps us join forces in the search for promotion policies for our sector. From this chamber, I participate in ADIMRA.
The business community has a maximum responsibility in national life. busineman have to be the controllers of politics. Politicians are transitory, companies have to last. And for this we have to unite.
My wife Norma deserves a special section in this story. If I was able to do everything I did, it was because of her unconditional support. She always took care of all the activities of the house with love and dedication. With her, we had four children: María, Damián, Belén, Alejandro, whom everyone calls Jano. They gave me eleven grandchildren.
Three of my four children work at PRODISMO. María, the eldest, is in charge of institutional relations. Damián, who was in charge of our factory in Mexico, today is responsible for all operations. Jano, for his part, is the financial director. They will have the responsibility of leading the company into the future, following our tradition of excellence in molds, stamping tools, and assembly lines, with great technological content.
I never worked less than twelve hours a day. But I'm not complaining. Work is the culture that I acquired since childhood, when I repaired curling in my native Tandil. My activity as an entrepreneur has also given me enormous satisfaction, such as the possibility of discovering the world. And I have had the honor of being named honorary consul by the Mexican government for Córdoba, Santa Fe, Santiago del Estero and Catamarca. My daughter Belén is the secretary of the consulate in Córdoba.
I arrived in Córdoba without money. I grew thanks to work and effort. I was able to build a renowned company, and I have been the industrial and technological father of many young people who worked and work alongside me. On a personal level, I have been able to found a family of which I am enormously proud. I believe that the last name is the most important thing that a person leaves behind. And Pedrosa has earned respect in the different communities where he participates. That's the footprint I'd like to leave.