Taking minerals from strength to strength in Brazil

José Antonio Nóbrega de Almeida’s history with FLSmidth is the history ‘of FLSmidth itself in Brazil’s minerals market. In 1996, when he joined the group as Sales Manager, he knew that they faced steep challenges in trying to compete with the industry’s larger, established companies. His ambition, however, was one shared across the organisation: to grow FLSmidth’s mining segment into the leading company in its area.

ON THE JOB

What I enjoy most about my job is that nothing is the same, from a single equipment proposal to a complete system supply. In the minerals industry, it is rare that you repeat a project
— José Antonio Nóbrega de Almeida Sales Manager FLSmidth Brazil

“When we started, we were facing local giants such as Metso, with more than 2,000 employees in the country, and Sandvik with another 800 local employees,” José Antonio explains. “The strategy was to organically build our team, and gain the confidence of the minerals market. In the end, we have been successful, and today FLSmidth is another giant in the Brazilian market.”

This is thanks, say José Antonio’s colleagues, in no small part to his dedication. “Over the years, the results could not have been better,” says colleague José Roberto Perez. “Our mining market share within FLSmidth Brazil has topped the cement market, and we are now among the top three companies in Brazil in both of these industries. A lot of that is from José Antonio’s business vision, discipline and perseverance. He is a very dedicated employee, committed to ensuring that he and his employees always have total focus on the customers.”

Important player in the minerals market
In 1998, José Antonio was made Managing Director of FLSmidth Group’s Brazilian minerals operations. He was particularly excited, he says, to accept greater responsibility in developing the minerals market for FLSmidth in Brazil. One of the world’s largest countries, Brazil is also the number one iron ore exporter – this factor alone illustrates Brazil’s importance in the global minerals market. However, Brazil also produces a large portion of the world’s bauxite (for aluminum), nickel, niobium (more than 90 percent of world production), phosphate, gold, and more. Competing in the minerals market in Brazil is a weighty job, indeed.

“Brazil is also a special country with a special culture,” José Antonio adds. “It requires certain skills to work within. Brazilian regions have different interpersonal traditions and relationships, and it’s very important to keep on good terms for business.”

Showing the way
Perhaps the most dynamic part of his job, says José Antonio, is in these relationships, and in being constantly prepared to present and supply the best technical and commer-cial solution for each of FLSmidth’s customers.

“We deal with many types of clients in the minerals industry, from small, family-owned mining companies to giants like VALE, and we visit clients on a weekly basis to verify their needs, and show what FLSmidth can do to help them.”

Today, José Antonio’s manages and coordinates all of FLSmidth’s minerals activities in the country. Starting with client contacts, product application, proposal preparation, technical and commercial deals and discussions, and following projects from the planning stages to execution, installations, follow-ups and beyond.

“I interact with many levels and departments in our organisation, from engineering, procurement, and contract management, to in-stallation contractors, plant operators, and all the many important connections in between.”

Always a new challenge
These connections were put to the test when FLSmidth moved its location to Votorantim in southern Brazil. Synchronising company activi-ties and orchestrating the move was yet another great challenge in José Antonio’s career.

“There were several battles to be fought,” he explains, “including issues with land procure-ment, new building design and construction, and logistics coordination, to name a few. But ultimately, it was another accomplishment for the company, and today we are all unified and running smoothly under the same roof.”

While José Antonio’s favourite down-time activities include long walks and plenty of time with family, he says he is especially proud to be part of the success of FLSmidth’s Brazilian team. From the lessons of the past, to future opportunities, José Antonio says he looks forward to continuing to meet the challenges of each new day.

“What I enjoy most about my job is that nothing is the same, from a single equipment proposal to a complete system supply. In the minerals industry, it is rare that you repeat a project: raw materials vary a lot, the type of minerals processing route is always different, the project scale – there’s always a new challenge. I like that.”

CONTACT: José Antonio Nóbrega de Almeida