Get to know Brazil’s notable little ones

Small and medium-sized companies that are giants in their market segments
(Lurdete Ertel and Lucas Teixeira)

As FORBES Brasil stated in the first edition of the SMALL NOTABLE list, you don’t have to be big to be a leader. That is why you will now get to know the small and medium-sized Brazilian companies that dominate their market niches. The select team is made up of Brazilian companies with annual revenues of R$ 1 million to R$ 100 million, managed and controlled by their founders or heirs – even after having received some funding. This year’s list ranges from young startups to senior companies that, after years in the market, are still ahead of the game.

She hooked the fishing line market
(Diego Nata and Ale Santos)

Nello Mazzaferro arrived in Brazil in 1949. Coming from an Italy destroyed by the Second World War, the young man was looking for a chance for a dignified life in Brazil. He worked in several places until, in 1953, he created a small plastic processing company that took his last name. Today, Mazzaferro, from São Paulo, is the largest producer of fishing lines in the country – and one of the largest in the world.

“It hasn’t always been easy, we have had ups and downs in these more than 60 years of history,” says Maurizio Mazzaferro, Nello’s son and currently responsible for the company’s fishing sector. “We reached our peak in the 1960s and 1970s. In 1980 we went through serious problems, like most businesses in Brazil at the time.” Close to bankruptcy and sunk in debt, the company began to turn itself around in the mid-1990s. With the retirement of the founder in sight, the family decided to professionalize the management.

In 2000, Mazzaferro created an advisory board and finally separated the CEO and chairman positions. Today, the manufacturer is a sui generis family business, as Maurizio often says. Nello’s four heirs share a 53% share, and the rest is spread among cousins and other relatives.

With the new planning, the company has become a giant in plastic transformation. “On the fishing side, there is only one company in the world, in the United States, that competes with us,” says Maurizio. To meet the demand, Mazzaferro has two factories in Greater São Paulo and a distribution center in Manaus, responsible for the products manufactured in China – a partnership that began in 1994. “The Brazilian market faces a frequent loss of industrial base competitiveness. Sometimes the exchange rate helps, but the country doesn’t: the legislation is complex, labor costs are high, electricity is a question mark…”, complains the executive. “We had to opt for Asia, which, unfortunately, reflects the lack of confidence we have in Brazil.”

Although it is a plastic processing company, which produces from brooms to cosmetics, it is the area of fishing that gives the cards in Mazzaferro. Responsible for 70% of the revenue and a turnover of R$ 100 million in 2016, the sector has grown so much that it has become practically a different company, with its own CNPJ, headed by Maurizio, while his younger brother, Claudio, takes care of the other areas.

The future of Mazzaferro’s production is not only abroad. The Italian-Brazilian group, which began exporting in the 1960s, envisions the growth of customers beyond national borders. Today, it exports to more than 50 countries, accounting for 30% of revenue, and the goal is to increase this share to 50% in the next five years.

FOUNDER: Nello Mazzaferro
PARTNER: Mazzaferro Family
BILLED INCOME: R$100 million

Published in Forbes website on August 6th, 2017: