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Adapting to changes

Like father, like son. In the footsteps of his father Vicencio Paludo, founder of Vipal Rubber, Vipal is pioneering the business and technology development that has made the retread major way ahead of its time. “Vipal’s vision was created by my father, Vicencio Paludo, the company’s founder, in 1973. It is based on his vision that we define what our company will be in the future,” Arlindo Paludo, Vipal’s President, told Polymers & Tyre Asia in an interview.

Paludo can now have the satisfaction that the company is growing progressively under his watch. Today, Vipal is the largest manufacturer of tyre retread products in Latin America and one of the world’s top companies in this specialised field. “An entrepreneur by nature, my father envisioned new opportunities, and what we saw was a victorious technological and productive trajectory at Vipal,” Paludo said while explaining the strategic plans that he has envisioned to take the company further forward.

Since its founding 41 years ago, Vipal has become the number one producer of high quality camelback and precured treads. It pioneered technologies like the ECO Treads, new tyres for motorcycles, among others. “Today, besides the products for repairs, tyre treads and new tyres for motorcycles, our product mix includes lines of laminate flooring, as well as rubber and industrial compounds,” he said.

With strategic planning, over the coming years Vipal will continue to lead the market in the premium segment growing both in Brazil and foreign markets. It will constantly and continually invest in technology and ensure quality of its products and services.

Paludo said Vipal is currently exporting to 90 countries on all the continents, with the leading markets being Europe, Latin America and the US. The exports have been consistently increasing over the past ten years. “In 2013, the company exported approximately US$130 million in products,” he said.

“Overseas, we are occupying more space commercially and installing new distribution centres (DCs) all over the world. At the start of the year, our third DC in the US was inaugurated in California, and we are in the process to open another in England,” he said. With these two new units, Vipal will have a total of 12 distribution centres abroad.

Similarly, Vipal’s own teams are working more intensively in markets like the Middle East and North Africa. Besides these DCs and the three plants in Brazil, the company has branches and DCs in Spain, Germany, Slovenia, Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, Chile and Australia.

Another strategy towards overseas expansion of the market is Vipal’s increasing presence at international fairs and events, such as Reifen (Germany), Autopromotec (Italy) and various others in Latin America.

“In 2013, the production from one of our three manufacturing plants in Brazil was aimed exclusively at exports. This was an important decision in terms of the global market, as this way we are able to offer the necessary structure to meet the needs of countries around the world and where we run operations with excellence,” Paludo explained.

As Vipal expands its global market reach, it studies and monitors the culture of the markets it is involved in to develop tailormade products. An example of this is a tyre tread specially developed to optimise heavy vehicle traction in snow, the VT160, as this is a common reality on the road in countries in Europe and the US.

In Latin America, Vipal is expanding its Vipal Authorised Network, which currently boasts 310 retreading specialist agencies, of which 240 are in Brazil.

Elaborating on Vipal’s product-lines that offer greater advantages than those of competitors, Paludo said its ECO line of precured treads is one of its major differentials.

“This is an exclusive and pioneering product, thanks to its advanced technology, generating savings in fuel and conserving the environment at the same time,” he said. Manufactured with special rubber compounds, the ECO treads offer a reduction in fuel consumption to the tune of 10 per cent.

Important freight companies in Brazil and other countries, like the US, Mexico, Australia and Colombia, have been using ECO treads on their fleets with very significant results in terms of fuel savings. One example is the case of a school bus fleet in the North Carolina, which recorded savings of 10.1 per cent when using Vipal ECO treads.

Another unique product by Vipal, which is already being widely used in the US, is the VL130 ECO tyre tread, which is the first to be validated by the North American Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the SmartWay Transport program. SmartWay encourages freight companies to use products that save on fuel and ensure a reduction in the emission of gases in to the atmosphere.

Vipal is advancing its concept of aligning technology with environmental preservation by launching this tread, as its design and compound are specially developed to provide greater savings in fuel consumption. “This is the first time ever that a programme of this type regulates tyre treads, and Vipal has thus become a pioneer in South America in this sense,” he proudly said.

Paludo is not worried about the uncertainty facing the global market. “We expect the global market to continue growing, and the retread of tyres, in this sense, continues being an attractive and commercially profitable business.”

New solutions in equipment and material technology translate the dynamism of this market into global terms. Similarly, the value placed on the sustainable nature of the tyre retread industry is increasing constantly, and export companies like Vipal must be attentive to this. “We will continue with our global expansion strategy, offering premium products, coupled with technical support in our markets of operations.”

Over the past 40 years, Vipal has gone through many moments of uncertainty in various markets, “but we have always known how to effectively deal with these situations, adapting to changes in the scenario and seeking new opportunities that these moments present.”

Commenting on perceptions he sees evolving among consumers that will affect the definition of the tyre industry, especially retreading, Paludo said that retreading is a common practice among the world’s transport and fleet companies. “The sector is constantly enhancing its capacities, and freight companies are increasingly aware of the contribution made by tyre retreading in reducing fleet costs, not to mention the positive impact on the environment. Retreading saves money for fleet owners, as a retread tyre is 60 per cent cheaper than a new one, offering the same performance, quality and safety.”

Furthermore, the retread industry’s sustainable nature is increasingly recognised and valued by consumers, especially in Europe and the US. “I also believe that the tyre retread industry is evolving in terms of sector regulations in a number of countries. In Brazil, for example, the world’s second largest tyre retread market, a regulation has been in place by the government since November 2012 obliging retread units to adapt to strict quality and safety standards.”

In the US, too there are programmes like SmartWay. In Europe, since 2012, new tyres must be sold with a label classifying their performance in terms of fuel economy, noise emission and braking capacity. Basically, in the global scenario, the new and retread tyre segment is evolving in terms of regulations so that end users can make a better choice. In this context, he believes that brand is becoming a very important and fundamental factor in market acceptance.

“Vipal is a company that strives to meet market needs, seeking to stand apart in terms of products, services and commercial technical support. Our growth over recent years has been achieved thanks to high performance products and our customer service structure. Our team is present in the markets we operate to become familiar with the daily routine of our customers and try meet their needs and those of the end user.”

Created in 1997, the Vipal Authorised Network is an example of market differentiation. With 310 retread specialists in Latin America, the Network offers the end users a number of benefits, such as a tyre retread warranty, tyre management systems, guideline programmes for freight companies, as well as exclusive products.

For the retread specialists of the Network, Vipal offers a cost management system, training and professional capacity-building for managers and their teams, support in communication and marketing actions, as well as technical support through a huge and highly specialised team.

As Arlindo Paludo drives Vipal to higher growth, he can have the satisfaction that he is taking the pioneering spirit of his father to still greater heights.

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