Industrial Contracting in Alagoas: Reinforced Plastic Equipments

Manuel Marques, President of Joplas, Glastec and Tecfibra
Joplas, Glastec and Tecfibra are companies that have been acting in the plastic industry sector for years. The companies provide pipes, tubes, reinforced plastic equipments for industrial applications and industrial assembly. Manuel Marques presents the companies and talks about the market, his plans for the future and the competition.

Interview with Manuel Marques, President of Joplas, Glastec and Tecfibra

Manuel Marques

What makes your products different from the competition? What are the specifics of your company?

Our clients come to us, because they know we are a traditional company within the sector. Tecfibra has 28 years’ experience in the provision of services within the reinforced plastic segment. Glastec, which originated from Tecfibra, is a 20 years old company that produces equipment like, for example, towers, tanks, pipes etc.

Who buys our products, buys them because of the price. The pipes you saw outside are for basic sanitation (water and sewage). The people that buy this kind of pipes from us are sanitation concessionaires, which are state companies that buy low-cost products. Once you have defined the technical specification and the bidding regulations, according to the bidding law, the lowest price wins. My client doesn’t buy my product because he likes it, or because I’m situated in Alagoas, he buys it because I have the best price.

Another line of products is the reinforced plastic equipment for industrial applications. These are engineered products, where the client defines its necessity and engineering and takes its project into the market and the client decides which one is the best proposal. That proposal might not be chosen for its price: the choice is made having in mind several factors such as price, technique, warranty, reliability, the company’s tradition, the management level of the company etc. Those are the type of clients we have for Glastec and Tecfibra.

Our clients come to us, because they know we are a traditional company within the sector. Tecfibra has 28 years’ experience in the provision of services, acting as an industrial assembler, applying anticorrosive coatings, making maintenance in industrial plants, always within the reinforced plastic segment. Glastec, which originated from Tecfibra, is a 20 years old company that produces the equipment we talked about. Like, for example, towers, tanks, pipes etc. – all the equipment an industrial plant needs in its process. No equipment is equal to any other equipment; every project is unique.

Petrobras, the biggest company in Brazil is a big client of Glastec and Tecfibra. Braskem is also a big company that is our client.

Petrobras and Braskem are very good references as clients. Which are the greatest challenges the company is facing?

Braskem is expanding its plant in Alagoas and it has ordered a lot of our products. The demand is seasonal; the demand is higher in some periods than in others. It accompanies the growth of the country. When industrial demand is on the rise, then the demand for our products (Glastec) and services (Tecfibra) is high. That means if the industrial park keeps on growing, we’ll also grow.

The problem is when there is a decrease in demand. When that happens do you turn to other types of markets? Is it easy to export, is it difficult or even impossible?

I have adopted a solution for several years now (it’s a cliché): the necessity makes us grow. That applies here in the company, because when we have difficulties due to low demand, we begin to observe and we turn to new market opportunities, to new products. 12 years ago we began a partnership with a Canadian company concerning the transfer of technology for us to use in reinforced plastic. This partnership went on for 10 years and we learned a lot, and we are today specialized in fluoropolymer reinforced with glass fiber. These are high performance engineering plastics resistant to higher temperatures.

Are you currently going through a good phase or a phase in which you have to find other products?

A little bit of both. Glastec announced a new line of products to address the needs of companies like Petrobras (pre-salt). It’s a big investment; some of these products are undergoing laboratorial tests in the USA. We believe that in mid-2013 we’ll already have the certification of these products. Once we have the certification, we are going for Petrobras, because Petrobras has been importing these products. The products I’m talking about are reinforced plastic pipes for offshore application (for platforms or vessels). With the pre-salt project they will have many more platforms and many more vessels. Why should they import then?

With these new products it seems the future of the company is bright.

I really hope so. If the country continues to grow, the future is bright.

How is the competition in this sector? Are you the only ones that are going to produce these kind of special products for the Brazilian oil & gas sector?

There is a company in São Paulo that already manufactures this kind of products. We are going to be the second company in Brazil specialized in reinforced plastic pipes for offshore applications.

That applies to the new line of products, but the competition is higher when we talk about the existing products for other areas?


We have another kind of product: the compact station for water and sewage treatment that are manufactured with reinforced plastics. It’s difficult to treat water and sewage in little communities and municipalities due to the great capture distance. These compact stations make it easier for these small communities to have their water and sewage treated.

We come up with a project, we manufacture and assemble locally the required materials and tools and we then realize the project.

Are there other products you would like to focus on? Do you have any other products you’d like to mention?

Joplas and Interfibra (located in Santa Catarina) are the only companies manufacturing reinforced plastic with glass fiber pipes specifically designed for high pressures and temperatures soaring up to 95°C. They are used in oil fields to conduct oil and produce water. It’s a highly technical pipe with complex production and with a high risk due to an eventual rejection. It’s a non-recyclable material.

Do you export these pipes?

No, we don’t. There are many companies in the USA which are the global leaders in the manufacture of these pipes. There are also companies in Argentina, in Venezuela. Our capacity serves perfectly Petrobras. What is new in this kind of process is that we are continuously improving. We are trying to increase the temperature resistance of the pipes. Our first pipe of this kind was installed almost 25 years ago and it’s still fully operational.

What would be your future projects? What vision do you have for Joplas in three years’ time? Would you be interested in attracting investors or technology?

Yesterday I was attending an event with some Italian businessmen. We have a machine that was imported from Italy which has been operating for two years now. In the conversation I was having with these businessmen, I told them that what they are trying to do now I already tried to do ten years ago. But, when I tried to make business some years ago, no one wanted to hear what I had to say. And I was seeking these opportunities because I had market for them; I just didn’t have the money or technology for it. I wanted them to come to Brazil so that we could make a project together but everyone refused. In 2009 I had to take my own money, which I was saving for some time, and I went to Italy to buy what I needed: the price was 13 million Brazilian Reals.

Nowadays they are coming in search of those same opportunities; not only Italy, but many other countries. They all come with the same slogan: “Mr. Marques, we have the technology and we have money, but we don’t have the market. You have the market and we would like to start a partnership.” I’m listening to every offer and project and I’m analyzing all of them. I feel that, at every moment, we are going to start a project with a foreign company. We are going to enter a partnership to have a stronger presence in the market, to increase our product line and to serve the entire region in an excellent way.

When you ask me what challenges Joplas is going to face, I can answer you that they are the offshore pipes. What comes next? Only future will tell.

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