The Iochpe Group has been operating internationally since its foundation back in 1918. Initially a lumbering operation, the company extracted and processed wood in a pioneering manner in as yet uninhabited areas of Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina, in southern Brazil. A lot of the Group’s timber was exported to Argentina and Uruguay, usually river driven during high water. The business grew considerably during the Second World War (1939-1945), when imports from Norway, Canada and the United States all but ceased. Brazilian pine gradually became the main timber import among the Platine nations.
Of all Brazilian exports during the 1950s, pine was surpassed in volume only by coffee and yerba-mate, though it was far more profitable than either. Iochpe was one of the top-five timber exporters to Argentina, enjoying as much as 20% market share. During this same decade, the Group opened affiliates in New York (USA) and Tel Aviv (Israel), and a warehouse in Louisiana (USA), where new technologies were absorbed in partnership with a local player. All of this enabled the Group to expand its exports to Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Mexico and Cuba.
In the 1960s, new materials such as cardboard, plastic and aluminum replaced wood in civil construction, packaging and other markets, severely diminishing the demand for timber.
As the Group had long honed its capacity to read market trends and spot opportunities, it decided to diversify its operations, and, by the 1990s, had fully migrated to the automotive and railroad industries.