Ramiro de León

Leftovers Perfect for Furniture Maker

Tue, 11/01/2016 - 15:34

Furniture maker MASISA does not mind leftovers. In fact, it prefers them. When the Chilean company arrived in Mexico it brought its environmentally friendly philosophy of using scrap material from other companies and industries in its panel boards. It was a philosophy that initially went against the grain. At the time, Mexico was not using a great deal of panel board products compared with other Latin American countries. Solid wood was the key ingredient, meaning an intensive use of the country’s natural resources. “Our arrival to Mexico was challenging,” says Ramiro de León, MASISA’s CEO. “We had to break paradigms in the way that furniture was produced. Simultaneously, MASISA found that a great deal of furniture was imported, which hurt Mexico’s local industry and greatly affected the economy. From the outset, our strategy was to try to change the mentality to produce more environmentally friendly furniture using local products.”

MASISA entered the Mexican market in 2012 through the acquisition of Arclin Mexico’s assets and settled in Durango. The company developed relationships in the community and now locals are suppliers of the components MASISA uses. “We collect the material that will be used in our processes, and in this way, we are involving the small artisanal companies in the economy and getting the most use out of the products,” he says. “The local and municipal governments have been cooperative in allowing MASISA to develop this business model.”

The company is also determined to meet the needs of a variety of customers, such as millennials. “We have noticed that millennials tend not to invest in furniture for the long term. They want furniture they can replace or sell in a short period of time and also want it to be ergonomic and economical,” de León says. “Keeping this customer base in mind, we try to include those characteristics in our products. Our results indicate we are extremely successful in these sectors.”

MASISA environmental philosophy extends to others in the segment. The furniture maker launched an initiative with industry members such as the National Association f Panel Board Manufacturers (ANAFATA) to focus on environmental factors facing the sector. This program will launch at the end of 2016 and due to new regulations, all industries that produce panel boards must comply with low emissions standards for formaldehyde.

“This is a positive change in Mexico. It not only applies to products manufactured here but also to imports, helping to guarantee the safety of those interacting with the components,” de León says. “Little by little, the mentality in Mexico is changing.” MASISA also considers the environment in powering its plant. It uses a technique that maximizes the use of clean energies.

Mexico typically produces furniture using plywood or solid wood, so when MASISA introduced panel board, this was revolutionary for the industry. “We sell design as part of our price and we apply automated machinery and processes, whereas a carpenter has to spend a great deal of time on this part of the process,” he says.

Although the company’s original scope was to provide panel boards, MASISA is now a factor in technology, design and innovation in the furniture industry. “We combine our products with other industries to create turnkey solutions and we are constantly trying to make alliances with other sectors such as electronics,” says de León. “We piloted our turnkey solutions this year and have seen great success and we expect to replicate those types of models.”