Alibérico, the first Spanish private group and the first European family group manufacturer of semi-transformed aluminum products, has 35 companies and 17 factories. What has been the evolution of Alibérico been like?
Alibérico is an industrial and technological company founded 25 years ago. We started from scratch in 1996, and, since then, we have not stopped growing and innovating. I personally have 50 years of experience in the aluminum sector. In 2008, we navigated the crisis by acquiring smaller companies. In addition, we have worked on greenfield projects, such as Alucoil where we also started from scratch. Moreover, we are a diversified company that covers a range of market segments. Alibérico is leader in container packaging for pharmaceuticals and food. Likewise, we are leaders in mass transport for trains, ships, and buses, as well as in the elevator, air conditioning, and insulation industries. Our product range is wide, and our sales cover 91 countries across all continents. This product diversification and market segment variety have allowed us to maintain stability and growing capability. None of our clients buy more than the 10% of the production. In other words, we have distributed our sales by market segments and geography.
50% of the Alibérico's profits come from exports. Which are your main markets?
Our main marketplaces are Europe and Oceania, followed by America, Africa, and Asia. In terms of sectors, construction comes first, followed by packaging and mass transport. Alibérico provides all the materials. We make high-technology materials and have few competitors at the global level. Most of our factories do not have competition in Spain given that the technology we use was invented and designed in-house. Our employers are aligned in terms of goals and values. That is the main challenge of a company. Even with machinery, if your employees are not committed or passionate about what they do, it will not work.
During the first months of the pandemic, Alibérico saw its production destined for the pharmacy and food and beverage sectors intensify. How has the pandemic affected your company?
It has not affected us. Our sales did not drop, and, in fact, we earned more than in 2019. 2020 was an important and difficult year. Our factories did an amazing job in terms of taking on risk regarding health and safety. In the offices, people alternated between working from home and going into the office. Alibérico is an agile and flexible company that adjust itself to the needs of its clients.
What is your vision regarding the Next Generation funds to improve the industrial sector of Spain?
Industry should be the motor of economic recovery in this country, but it is not. Moreover, the European funds will not adequately support industry and the growth of the sector. Spain and Europe want the GDP average in industry have a target of 20%. I am worried about what these funds will consist of and how they will be distributed, because we can spend all this money but it may not have any impact. I am concerned about Spanish unemployment, and no one has spoken about how many jobs these Next Generation projects will create. It is important to clarify this because youth unemployment (less than 30 years old), which is at 40%, will lead to serious social and economic problems in the long term. Those investments that create stable jobs, exportations, and I+D are more important. The world is now more local and less global. Countries are analyzing the essential and strategic industries so that if, in the future, another pandemic occurs, and borders close, countries will be able to keep going. Then, we have the primary sector (agriculture and farming), which is necessary in terms of our food supply, and the industrial sector, where we must invest in essential and strategic industries, so we do not depend on imports. Spain should analyze the essential and strategic industries that it needs to live in the face of another global lockdown.
Aliberico acquired 20% of the capital of Premo Sistemas Modulares. The intention is to manufacture a new generation of operating rooms for hospitals, which will be marketed under the Sanilux brand. What are the main characteristics of these rooms?
We are leaders in the manufacture of antibacterial air conditioner ducts for operating rooms in hospitals. I was the IFEMA executive president, and we built the IFEMA hospital in a day and a half. In 40 days, we saved 3,800 lives, and no medical staff was infected. I then realized that Spanish hospitals were 40 years old on average, which is why it was necessary to build a new generation of operating rooms with this additional material. The new generation hospital will be more sectional, flexible, and will involve no construction work. Instead of taking two months to build them, they are prefabricated and assembled in three days. We started manufacturing them in April, and we already have orders.
What are the main goals of Alibérico for 2022?
We may make some investments in liquid aluminum sector, for instance in smelting works. Also, in 2008 when the crisis struck, we had grown significantly, and suddenly everything stopped. After the crisis, we learnt to manage shortages. For this reason, we developed the Vision 5 plan: having five factories on five continents in five years. We started in Africa with a factory in Morocco in 2010 that went well. In 2011, our launch in the US went extremely well too. In India in 2012, things did not go to plan because we were swindled. In 2013, in South America we were the only aluminum company in Brazil. In 2014, we built another factory in Australia. From then, we started growing across the world, and we have now changed our strategy. Before, we wanted to do what we were good at across the world. Now, however, we have decided to centralize or boost what we have. Instead of manufacturing everywhere, we want to sell to the world, but keeping as much of the manufacturing as possible within in Spain. This is because Spain is such a great country, and Spaniards are wonderful people. The best directors and workers in the world are Spaniards. We are now building a third factory in Miranda del Ebro, a second one in Alicante, and also the biggest investment to date in Spain. We want to keep growing internationally but manufacturing as much as we can in Spain.