(March 2010) Dr. Reinaldo Sampaio took over the post of President of the Brazilian Stone Industry Organization (Abirochas) in November 2009. He is Director of the Bahia-based Peval Granite Company, which owns and operates its own quarry and production site. Sampaio is also President of Simagran, the Organization of the State of Bahia. BusinessStone.com (ssS) spoke with him about the state of the Brazilian stone branch and about his visions for the future.
ssS: In the recent past, exports of raw blocks from Brazil have increased sharply. Is South America’s biggest stone exporter reverting to the role of a third-world player selling only low-priced raw blocks?
Reinaldo Sampaio: Granite exports make up for 19.1% of our turnover which, to me, seem a relatively low portion measured by our enormous geological potential. Of course, it is always better to export high-end finished products, whereby the extra value also entails expert technology and innovation.
ssS: How can Brazil go from strength to strength with respect to high value products?
Reinaldo Sampaio: It is my aim to implement a strategy for the branch. It will help small and mid-sized enterprises to overcome their notorious weakness when it comes to investing. The goal is to get companies to invest in modernization and growth. These are two central preconditions for the production of high-end goods.
ssS: What are the central points of the strategy?
Reinaldo Sampaio: I expounded the following spheres of action before the Abirochas-Council: a) Brazilian natural stone must take on a greater presence in national architecture; b) we must simplify the legal restrictions for small-scale mining; c) we must improve the interaction with the national industry for investment-goods and working-stock; d) we must ensure that there is unity in the branch; e) we must lay the foundation for a pan-Brazilian development of the stone industry.
ssS: One idea, albeit not a new one, is to create a brand such as „Made in Brazil“. Do you support such an idea?
Reinaldo Sampaio: „Made in Brazil“ is always part of my plans. However, experts warn that homogenization of this sort would be difficult to implement – and rightly so. So I think we should pursue other priorities for the time being.
ssS: Which are those?
Reinaldo Sampaio: One idea is to build a virtual bridge to associate our stone with certain themes, like nature or Brazilian culture and society. To this end, our local stone must find more markets at home. The old adage applies: to gain strength internationally, we must gain strength nationally…
ssS: … as well as national unity? *
Reinaldo Sampaio: national unity too. We all agree that the present challenges require mobilization of all our strength. This presupposes unity and cooperation.
* Editor’s comment: for many years the national organization, Abirochas, and the state organization of Espirito Santo, Sindirochas, have carried out an on-going feud.
Photo: Haroldo Abrantes