An executive with a burnished résumé, Nildemar Secches joined the Iochpe Group on Ivoncy Ioschpe’s invitation at a juncture of strategic definition in relation to the company’s areas of activity, then predominantly focused in finance:
“I met Ivoncy at the BNDES [Brazilian Development Bank], when I was director-superintendent of BNDESPAR. I started at Iochpe in 1987. At the time, the company wanted to form a stellar board that could help us rethink the company’s strategy and industrial-sector involvement over the coming years.”
Acquisition of FNV – Fábrica Nacional de Vagões
Nildemar was involved in the acquisition of FNV, a deal which sealed the Iochpe Group’s entry into the railcar segment. He spoke of the key strategic actions taken in relation to the new acquisition, which had to adjust to a new administrative, commercial and manufacturing reality:
“The first major acquisition we made was of FNV. The idea was to buy it, improve it, then sell it on. But Ivoncy loved the company and straight away decided it was a good business and that we ought to stick with it. Ivoncy asked me to manage the company and I ended up staying at the holding. So we hired someone new for the bank and I took over as managing director.
I think that the group’s vocation was industrial—and Ivoncy was personally built that way too. In the financial system, the decision-making process is far faster than in industry. Ivoncy is a strategist, he has a more industry-friendly, long-term vision, so the financial sector served him really as a bridge to a business he liked better, and believed in more. He always delegated the operational side, allowing a great deal of autonomy, and with that came a lot of pressure in terms of strategy—of steering the company, plotting its course. He trusted people.
We saw that FNV had massive potential for market dominance, a real shot at being market leader, and from that came the idea of setting up a metal-mechanical group. We already had Iochpe-Maxion and FNV laid some very solid ground for growth in the autoparts sector. The acquisition of FNV went through in 1990. It was clear that a major restructuring of the autoparts sector was on the horizon, so we decided to keep the company rather than sell it on. It became an important pillar in the group’s growth strategy”.
Creation of the holding Iochpe-Maxion S.A.
Soon after the acquisition of FNV, the Iochpe Group underwent organizational restructuring, part of which involved a whole new corporate philosophy:
“We started assembling our São Paulo office, first downtown, then in Berrini, and finally in Santo Amaro, on João Dias bridge.
The company designing the administrative restructuring was the century-old consultancy Arthur D. Little. The vision behind it all was to take this handful of businesses with very little synergy and create a genuine Group…The restructuring came into effect in 1991. We’d bought FNV in September 1990 and begun the restructuring process at the end of that year. Out of this came the Maxion brand and the company’s logo, replacing the Massey Ferguson brandname, which didn’t actually belong to the group. The family name was retained because of its credibility, so the result was Iochpe-Maxion. When the holding Iochpe-Maxion S.A. came into effect, people were transferred to their corporate functions. This was all early in 1991. There was now a corporate structure and each company had operational autonomy. Only finances and the treasury were centralized. The corporate image, too. The Iochpe Group as we know it today is the direct result of the changes we made back then.”
Agricultural sector instability – focus on autoparts manufacturing
Nildemar was also involved in another extremely important strategic decision for the Iochpe Group: leaving the increasingly unstable agricultural industry segment to focus more thoroughly on the autoparts sector:
“Concentrating on the Massey business posed a strategic problem, namely excessive reliance on the agricultural sector. We decided to channel our efforts into growth elsewhere, in the metal-mechanical segment, where there was strong technological synergy with the agricultural sector, but far less reliance on it. So we moved into autoparts. The agricultural sector had that ‘drawback’. It was very unstable, with a relatively shaky capital structure.”