The community in the state of Ceará is the result of an initiative by various associations
“If you want to go a long way, go together with others,“ says the Rede Rochas website, translated: Natural Stone Network. It is a loose cooperation of currently ten stonemasonry companies in the metropolis of Fortaleza in the Brazilian state of Ceará. The initiative presented itself at the Fortaleza Brasil Stone Fair (November 06 – 08, 2023).
In September 2023, two new members joined the previous eight.
Such cooperation models are not new. However, there are two special features here: the members are direct competitors in a highly competitive market, and the initiative came from the state’s natural stone association (Simagran-CE) together with the umbrella organization of the local industry (FIEC).
Some of the network’s objectives are familiar from similar initiatives. For example, it is about joint purchasing and the price advantages this brings. In the case of this network, however, avoiding waste and stockpiling is also an aspect: if someone only needs a small piece from a large plate, they can find buyers for the rest among the other members.
“You are no longer alone,“ says Alfredo Vasconselos, President of the initiative and head of JL Mármores, describing the new business feeling. We spoke to him at the fair.
At the same time, he reports that the members’ position on the market has also improved: “We are experiencing greater demand from architects, who obviously see network members as more efficient partners.“
This is also his own self-perception, and it does not sound like a purposeful statement: “The exchange of experience is an important aspect of our cooperation.“ He reports that his own company has grown more in the two years since the network was founded than in the previous seven years.
Another aspect is that, as a community, it is easier to afford advice from external experts. “The prices for the individual are reduced,“ says Vasconselos. Such advice is offered by institutions set up by the state, such as Sebrae, which in turn generate greater demand through the network.
The members organize the cooperation without a large framework and on their own initiative. This includes the activities of the four presidents (one for the role of chairman, one as vice-chairman, one for marketing and one for purchasing) and the four conselheiros, who deal with specific issues as they arise.
The amount of time spent on the network is low: “All in all, it takes three hours a week,“ says Vasconselos. They meet in person once.
In the meantime, the members have also grown together on a personal level. The families know each other, and they get together for the New Year celebrations, for example.
The current goal is to continue to grow and gain further market advantages.
Where does the initiator of the idea, Simagran CE boss Carlos Rubens A. Alencar, sees further areas for the network? “Rede Rochas must establish itself in the public consciousness as an institution that drives its members towards sustainability,“ he says.
Rede Rochas (Portuguese)
(19.12.2023, USA: 12.19.2023)