“Silos Córdoba gained a good position in the international market as a result of its expansion which started around 1992. Currently we have commercial network in 37 countries and projects in 52. To reach the current situation we have basically five pillars: quality, engineering, price, customer service and company culture. We want to penetrate more in the existing market we are established as well as in countries we did not penetrate yet.”
Pablo A. Fernandez
Global Sales Director of Silos Córdoba
Silos Córdoba is a leading manufacturer of grain storage, handling and conditioning solutions. Founded in 1975 by Juan López Lietor, the company has transformed into ‘a worldwide reference in grain storage solutions’. Spanish company also manufactures a full line of handling equipment, feed mills, livestock equipment, metal structures and cladding. The company is proud of providing its clients with customized, high quality and cost-efficient solutions.
As a result of stable and moderate growth year by year, now Silos Córdoba exports its products and services to 52 countries in 4 continents. Pablo A. Fernández, Global Sales Director of Silos Córdoba, told Miller Magazine Cordoba based company’s expansion to overseas markets. He told that to reach the current situation the company have five pillars: quality, engineering, price, customer service and company culture. In that regard he also emphasized Silos Córdoba’s ‘Main Contractor’ character. “Market trends and technical solutions are evolving to the figure of Main Contractor- a single supplier able to do complete project integration and management. In this point we count with more than 20 years of experience.” he said.
Here is the answers of Pablo A. Fernández, Silos Córdoba’s Global Sales Director to our questions.
Silos Cordoba is a leading manufacturer of grain storage, handling and conditioning solutions. You are key player in the world grain storage market. Can you tell us about your company’s history in the industry? Could you please provide us with some brief background information on your company and its activities?
Silos Córdoba is 43 years old company. It was founded by Juan López Liétor in 1975 with the aim of fulfilling the needs of the Spanish livestock market through grazing and storage solutions. During these years the company experienced several milestones in its trajectory:
At the beginning, the company was focused in Spanish and surrounding markets (Portugal, France and Morocco). We can say that during the first eight to twenty years the company was growing little by little, getting the necessary experience and market knowledge to expand itself later on.
After that first period the company has experienced a steady international expansion and we now have local distributors in 26 countries around the world, affiliate companies in Argentina, Uruguay, Nigeria, Mozambique, Turkey, Romania, Kazakhstan and India. Thanks to this commercial network we export our products and services to 52 countries in 4 continents.
It was also during this period when it was established the different business units of the company:
1. Silos Cordoba: Engineering, development and assembly of facilities for industrial and agricultural purposes
2. Matra: Development and manufacturing of industrial conveying machinery.
3. MGN: Design and supply of all kinds of facilities for the manufacture of feed.
4. Gandaria: Manufacturing and sale of products for all sorts of livestock facilities: pork, poultry, sheep, cattle, alternative livestock…
5. GER: Manufacture and distribution of climate control systems for livestock and industry.
6. QUINTA METALICA: Supply and installation of all kind of metal claddings. Modular homes with customized panels.
7. Trademet: Manufacture of steel structures in welded and bolted system, with the best machines in steel transformation.
What kind of role and place does Silos Cordoba in its sector? Could you tell us how Silos Cordoba has come to its current position? What do you owe your success to?
Silos Cordoba gained a good position in the international market as a result of its expansion which started around 1992. Firstly in Latin America and Europe and years after in Middle East, Asia, East Europe and Africa. Currently the company has commercial network in 37 countries and projects in 52. This is statement is easy to say now but there is lot of effort behind: working teams focused in different areas such as Quality&Customer Service, Engineering, R&D, Supply Chain&Manufacturing, Electronics, Logistic, Finance&Adminsitration and Commercial.
To reach the current situation we basically have follow next pillars:
• Quality: for us it is a must.
o Quality in the materials used: by using the higher galvanization and steel strength available in the market.
o Quality in the design: by using the latest design versions for silo technologies: ANSI/ASAE, EUROCODE, DIN. This lead us to offer higher safety measures in the technology.
• Customer Service: We are proud to say our customers are also our friends since we generate and build trust day by day. We are a very customer oriented company and understand business is not only about profits but also about trust, good service and problem solution.
• Engineering: We keep ourself yearly updated in new designs rules, in new solutions able to improve storage solutions and new products developed. It is important to know we are not only a manufacturing company but also and engineering company.
• Price: We are very aware about the market needs, the level of competition and the volume of investment our projects require. That is why we are quite well positioned in price worldwide.
• Employees&Company culture: Definitely our team is the pillar of our success.
Can you give us some information about your production capacity and facilities? How many people do you employ?
Our company had to move 3 years ago to a new facility. It was as a result of the growth of the company both in number of employees and turnover. We are still in Cordoba city but in a newer and better developed industrial area.
The new facility counts with a new office building with 1.040 m2 and new factory for silos and catwalks of 10.000 m2. Beside of this we have independent factories for grain handling equipment with 5.700 m2, factory for the production of metal structures of 20.100 m2 (bucket elevators towers, feed mill buildings, etc.)
The number of employees of Silos Cordoba Bulk Storage division is 87.
There are many companies in grain storage and handling industry. What distinguishes you from others?
Coming back to our previous point, we emphasized in quality, engineering, price, customer service and company culture, but going a step further on that comment I can add:
• Silos Cordoba as engineering company: Market trends and technical solutions are evolving to the figure of Main Contractor- a single supplier able to do complete project integration and management. In this point we count with more than 20 years of experience. In relation with this is, and an another important different with other companies, it is the fact that we are manufactures of a wider range of products: storage silos, structures, catwalks, supports, handling equipment, electrical panel, programming&software solution and supervision&erection team.
• Quality: We are transparent about our technical information and our customer are always aware of this strength because we use higher steel strength, better galvanization and newer designing rules than other companies.
• Team: Highly skill and well-motivated team looking forward to face new projects, new challenges.
• Flexible: Thank to the combination of new facilities, better process automation and the team, we achieve to have shorter delivery times.
Where do you export your products to? How many countries are you exporting to right now?
We export our products up to 52 countries located in Central&South America, Europe, Africa and Asia. As of today the only markets we have not yet penetrate are North America and Australia. These areas are in our strategic plan and it is something that will happen in the future.
You export your products to many countries. It needs a solid supply chain. How do you manage this?
That is a key process indeed since our production process start with our suppliers and then continue with the inter-departmental relations.
It was not a simple process to reach the level we have nowadays but our stable and moderate growth year by year allowed us to develop our Supply Department. We count with a department to do this task and that team growth day by day looking for improvements in our relations with suppliers.
What are the criteria for the selection of grain storage solutions in a milling facility? How can investors choose the right system?
Although we can say in general there are few parameters to consider such us grain condition, storage time or purpose of the grain, there are not fix parameters or criteria to select for grain storage or milling solution fit for everyone. This is simple to understand when we start to think about customer needs and the multiple profiles we have to work with:
1. Quality: Companies are focused in different levels of quality. This depends of the positioning each company wants to have in the market, the niche of the market they are looking after or even the law applicably in each country.
2. Weather conditions: We work in 4 continents with many different weather conditions: deserts, tropical, dry and humid, etc. Each of them bring different parameters to keep in mind for the designing for each single project.
3. Product stored and the purpose: Nowadays we store in our silos more than 60 types of products: cereals, pulses, feed, biomass, pellets and granular products for many different sectors: breweries, distilleries, flour mills, feed mill, rice mill, pasta, power production, traders, etc.
There are so many options, that stablishing fix criteria for a final solution is not possible. Therefore we end up in what customer needs: Customize solution.
What can you say about the innovations and solutions that you have brought to the grain and feed industry? What will your R&D department offer to customers in the coming period?
Regarding the past years: the market saw the new developments we brought regarding handling equipment, where we developed better solutions focused in safety and longer useful live. The feedback of the market was very good and our sales in handling equipment not only increased but it positioned us in a higher quality level, so we are able now to compete with the biggest and well reputed handling equipment companies.
Market also is aware about the new solutions designed for grain storage: insulation systems, anti-condensation technology, designs to avoid mechanical damage in grain, ventilation studies, anti-explosion (ATEX) rules, etc.
Today we are working in the efficiency of our products. Basically continuously asking ourselves and the user of our technology how we can make things better. We do this through several collaborations with customer where we together analyse equipment behaviour, wear and tear of the components, etc.
Could tell us Silos Cordobas’ recently finished and ongoing important projects?
We are just about to finish of the biggest projects (if not the biggest) in SAARCs countries. It is focused in paddy rice and it has 60.000 tons of storage capacity: following our main philosophy we were the Main Contractor and our scope of supply was complete: design, manufacture, integrate and erect everything above the ground: grain reception, cleaning and drying section, storage and connection to the mill as well as complete automatization.
Another one in a different continent it is in Italy, with a total storage capacity of 40.000 tons. Following same as before we supplied the complete project. Then, moving to Africa, in Nigeria we recently finalize 90.000 tons storage project for flour mill. One more example another 80.000 storage tons we did in Russia.
Regarding the ongoing projects, we are right now erecting 23 projects worldwide, and giving supervision service during erection in around 18 more. This is a key in our management handled by our Supervision and Erection team.
What are your future objectives in your field of operation? Can you tell us about your plans and expectations for years to come?
We want to growth, we want to penetrate more in the existing market we are established as well as in countries we did not penetrate yet. We have clear that customer service is a key that is why we are working on improving our services in different countries worldwide: commercial, technical supervision, erection and after sales service to be not only in our headquarter but also in several strategic areas. We are already doing that in the offices we have worldwide and we consider this is the next starting point for our future plans.
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