Melhoramentos: “Improving in order to grow”

With its over 100-year history, Melhoramentos represents an icon for the paper and tissue industry. Thanks to a diversification in investments, today the group is active in the fields of publishing, tissue manufacturing and converting (consumer and AFH segments) and in the agricultural-forest industry and fibers market (CTMP and TGW).

Maura Leonardi

It was the year 1890. The world was witnessing a period of technical and scientific rebirth thanks to the numerous inventions destined to change the course of history. In Europe, strong economic and scientific changes went hand-in-hand with deep transformations in the cultural and artistic world. Industrialization and the development of mass societies, together with continuous progresses in technology, determined a new architecture for the Old Continent. North America was setting the bases for the post-civil war rebirth of the United States. And Brazil, too, was crossing a period of social, political and technological change. In this country, the paper industry was taking its first steps and Melhoramentos began its adventure in this field.

IT IS THE YEAR 2006 AND MELHORAMENTOS CELEBRATES ITS 116 YEARS OF HISTORY. Innovation and entrepreneurial spirit make the Brazilian group one of the most important producers of tissue both in the consumer and AFH fields. Besides the quality of its products and services, Melhoramentos can boast of social responsibilities and ethics that distinguish it in every relation. Two are the reasons for its success: the strong investments made in large-scale paper production (in the historical facilities of Caieiras in the area of Sao Paulo) and the merger in 1920 with the Weiszflog brothers, owners of an important graphics company having the best technology available in Brazil. This merger led to the creation of a modern and active company, today leader in the field of publishing.

The historical specialization in the field of converting and publishing is characterized by an avant-garde production structure. A complete range of tissue products destined for the consumer market (Kitchen – household towels, Lips – table napkins, Softy’s, the brand for toilet rolls and facial tissue); a division specially dedicated to the AFH segment, constituted in 1994, make it a leading supplier also in this segment. The product range for the institutional segment includes the brands Melpaper, Fiesta, and Softy’s, for interfolded paper towels, toilet rolls and hospital bed sheets.

“IMPROVING IN ORDER TO GROW” REPRESENTS THE COMPANY’S MOTTO and highlights all its historical phases. The decision during the 1970s to concentrate its projects on the production of high-performance CTMP (chemical thermo-mechanical pulp), a production choice aimed at harmonizing production in respect of the environment, which contributed to increasing the rational exploitation of forests by 90%. And the choice in the 1980s for the CTMP technology (chemical thermo-mechanical pulp), finalized at guaranteeing a first-place position in the worldwide tissue production industry using eucalyptus pulp. In the year 2000, the introduction of the TissueFlex technology at the Mogi facilities for the production of paper, has signified another important step for the company, conferring it the absolute top position in terms of use in America and second place on a worldwide scale. Through this new process, Melhoramentos has enhanced the quality of its products. Quick and immediate decisions, an informal and pleasant climate together with a strong sense of responsibility by each single person working within the company are the main characteristics that guarantee overall efficiency in every department. A production capacity of 76,000 tpy, distributed between the two facilities of Caieiras and Mogi, is employed in the production of toilet rolls, interfolded towel, interfolded toilet paper (consumer and institutional segments), kitchen towels, facial tissues, table napkins (all products in the consumer and AFH segments).

INNOVATION, PUSHED BY THE RESEARCH FOR AN INCREASINGLY BETTER QUALITY OF THE FINISHED PRODUCT, represents an unquestionable objective for the company and implies the application of new technologies ad consequent strong investments in machinery and equipment, always keeping in mind the characteristics of the local market.

And so the vocation towards quality, innovation and service – intended as the ability to satisfy the individual requests of its clientele both in the consumer as well as in the AFH segment – together with a deep knowledge of the market, constitute the characteristic traits of Melhoramentos. “The Creped Wadding Machine 9 with TissueFlex technology, unique in Latin America, allows us to make very soft, extremely high quality finished products” declares Carlos Fava, Industrial Director. “Just like the choice of CMTP technology allows an increase in the specific volume of the finished product”. Offering soft products having greater absorbency, capable of satisfying consumer requests, represents the company’s philosophy of life. The tissue market has changed; today, producers present on the market must be able to make toilet rolls, kitchen towels, facial tissues, etc. And these products must have a high added value. This implies a renewal in terms of company strategy aimed at a passage from industrial company to sales company, oriented not only towards the product but also towards the end-user – the two sides of the same coin. Melhoramentos seems focused towards this approach. Proof of this is the constitution in 1994 of the division dedicated to AFH products, a division born following the acquisition of the Brazilian production facilities of Kimberly-Clark. This important step allowed the group to conquer the first position among Brazil’s largest AFH tissue producers.

“THE AFH DIVISION IS BORN WITH THE AIM TO OFFER THE BRAZILIAN INSTITUTIONAL SEGMENT THE NEWEST PRODUCTS AND SERVICES. Satisfying the needs of the customers, guaranteeing punctuality and reliability of deliveries and of the product represent the key elements of our policy,” states Cesar San Juan – Marketing Manager of the AFH Division. Fundamental factors that have allowed Melhoramentos to expand beyond the Brazilian borders and to acquire important market shares also in other countries such as Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay. Over 1000 people comprise this Division, which reflects the strength and importance of this leader in this segment. “We do not sell paper; we sell services” continues San Juan. Indeed, their mission is to offer the best services to their customers. And this concept is brought to fruition in several forms, starting with the quality of the product (100% virgin fiber), passing through the personalization of the dispenser, according to the specific requirements of the customer, up to the so-called “educational labels”, which supply useful information regarding environmental protection issues (use of water, accidents on the job, cleaning of the working areas, etc.).

The possibility of personalizing the dispensers with colors, logos, photos that perfectly blend with the furnishings of the room are all elements which characterize Melhoramentos and which are greatly appreciated by customers (hospitals, organizations, restaurants, public institutions).

THE SPIRIT OF INITIATIVE AND INNOVATION ARE TWO IMPORTANT DIRECTIVES THAT MELHORAMENTOS HAS ALWAYS STRIVEN TO TURN INTO ACTIONS. An example of this is the dispenser line called “Excellence” for interfolded paper towels, interfolded toilet paper, soaps and lotions. An innovative line studied by the internationally famous designer Guto Indio da Costa, winner of numerous awards, among which “Industry Forum of Hannover 2004” and manager of various projects for the renovation of certain areas of Rio De Janeiro. “Excellence” unites the aspects of innovation and class to personalize the environments of its customers, satisfying any requirement of interior decoration and design through the application of aluminum, gold painted or colored covers that make the dispenser and the environment it is located in, unique. The new product line denotes how the institutional market in Brazil is in the vanguard with respect to other countries (for example the United States and Europe) where the aesthetic aspect of the dispenser remains marginal and many times is not perfectly coordinated with the style of the environment where it is located. In terms of development, obviously the activity of Melhoramentos is also aimed at improving not only the aesthetic aspect of the dispenser, but also focussed on the development and the enhancement of the features of the products themselves. Proof of this is the launch on the market of a 4-ply hand towel (belonging to the Excellence line) that unites absorbency, quality, softness and, obviously, novelty! The product is comprised of 100% virgin fiber and is destined to conquer the institutional market. “Investing in technology and innovation is a must for our company, just as the development of new embossing patterns that can guarantee us innovative and unique products that maintain their own identity and are not comparable to others present on the market”, explains Cesar San Juan.

These are important bases that surely guarantee constant progress and updating of this over-one-century-old company that unites history, experience and wisdom in a dynamic and flexible structure that is ahead of its time. •

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