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Company Reports - KAUMAN  


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Leaders in rubber belts

Written by Ben Lobel & Produced by Daniel McDonald

Leaders in rubber belts

KAUMAN was founded in 1982 by Francisco Rey, a leader with a good deal of experience in the rubber business behind him, being the owner of one of the largest rubber companies in Spain during the 1950’s which employed more than 1,000 people. That company formerly manufactured a diverse selection of rubber products such as pieces for the automotive industry and rubber boots. But when Rey established KAUMAN he decided to specialise in rubber belts. The company vision was clear from the start – to become a world wide reference at designing, manufacturing and marketing high technology rubber belts. In 2008 the business was expanded by opening a new factory in Montevideo, Uruguay to serve the South American market.

Miguel Romero joined the firm in May 2008 and was tasked with consolidating international expansion and the promotion of an innovative culture in the company to produce high added value products.

How does the firm go about achieving this? Well, it certainly has the advantage of flexibility on its side. “We can move quickly to new products and new developments; we can offer to our customers better delivery times and of course we have enough expertise and experience for doing well as we have been dealing with rubber for more than 25 years,” says Romero. “Furthermore, we have a very recognised brand in the market,” he adds.

Such a strong brand has been important during a time of financial restrictions from the banks, meaning the company couldn’t develop its projects in the way it would have liked to. “Everything has to go slower and we have to search for financial solutions through other ways,” says Romero.

Of course, with KAUMAN serving clients in the real estate arena, there is a concern with how the sector is doing at the moment. Spanish real estate, Romero says, is not a case for optimism. “The sector, which has been one of the key industries in Spain for the last decades, has been strongly affected by the crisis. In a certain way this will be good for the companies which are capable of resisting by moving their business to another markets and products. Nevertheless it seems that Europe is starting to grow again, but slowly, and the best opportunities for us might be found in Middle East and North of Africa,” he adds.

In addition, there is the threat of competition from emerging markets such as China and India. “We have to do our best to find out new opportunities in fast growing markets,” says Romero. Indeed, the plan for the company is to grow sales by 5 percent in the coming year.

Staff will be key in this mission. “We can invest in the best machinery and facilities but if we do not have skilled and motivated employees we cannot produce quality belts,” says Romero. As he continues, the attitude of them is even more important than their skills. KAUMAN tries to provide them a good training but also to give them the best working conditions. “They have to feel how important their work for the company is,” says Romero.

And it is this work that will result in the top quality projects for the future. “We expect to succeed in most of our projects and this will mean introducing our products and our company in new markets,” says Romero. The company is set to invest around 700,000 euros in three R&D projects started in 2009 and one more that will be started in 2010. The majority of this expenditure will be in research on new rubber belts. “We are aware that the result cannot be seen before two or three years’ time but we are looking forward to embracing the future,” says Romero. “On the other hand we are trying to place KAUMAN as close to end users as we can. Our traditional customers are distributors and now we would like end users to become our main customers. There are many reasons to go in this way: the closer to them the better we get to know their needs to provide the best solutions and protect better our brand, and successful.”

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