The economic crisis and its effects in Spain have been well chronicled: Small businesses were badly affected, the educated young found no work, and the country’s hard-charging construction industry came to a stop. Few countries in Europe were hit as hard as Spain.
“Success was surviving,” says Miguel Vidal, production director and part-owner of Granalu.
Granalu - expert in the art of survival
Granalu employs around 100 people at its office and manufacturing facility in Sanchonuño, a small town in the center of Spain. Experts in the production of all-aluminium tipping trailers, with the popular Omega model as proof, the 19-year-old company also has become expert in the art of survival.
“The crisis was destructive,” Vidal says. “It also changed the rules in Europe. We never would have imagined that we would be exporting our products, but this was what we had to do. The crisis forced us to focus on what we did best, and made us learn how to export.”
Today, about two-thirds of its sales occur outside Spain, with France and Belgium accounting for the largest share. ”We would like to see our exports fall a little bit, but with the help of our foreign partners there is no question that we will continue exporting,” he says.
“A funny thing is that we developed the Omega during the crisis, and it helped us out of the crisis,” he says. “Probably more than half of our production this year will be the Omega. It saved us.”
Improving product design to compete with steel alternatives
At the time, Granalu needed a product that could compete with steel alternatives. The key was its development of a rounded section of extruded aluminium that could meet the requirements of customers and combat the heavier competitor. Its partner, Sapa, helped improve the design.
“We tried different concepts for several years, but they didn’t work. Our mistake was milling, not profiles,” says Vidal. “So we started to think: Why not profiles? This also would reduce scrap, compared with milling. At that point, we thought about curved, bent profiles. And in about six months, we went from paper drawings to the actual profiles. It became clear that profiles are the future.
“The solution is rounded, not ribbed. There are no corners anymore where waste or other material would collect. Omega is succeeding in the market. We made it first.”
Text Kevin Widlic
Photo Getty Images, F. J. Fdez. Bordonada