The prints that we all know and that illustrate metal cans and containers of paints, soluble cocoa, children’s cereals, stain removers, mosquito repellents, air fresheners, shaving foam, beer and soft drink “badges”, canning jars… many of them are made in Grafometal, an independent and fully professionalized family business located in La Rioja (Spain).
Mundolatas interviews its directors, Juan and María Eugenia Marín, who talk to us about the evolution of the business in these years and the challenges faced by this company, considered as a reference in varnishing and UV printing on tinplate.
ML- Grafometal is a family-owned company that has diversified over the years. With a staff of 170 employees, it has been dedicated since 1988 to the varnishing and lithography of tinplate as its main activity. How has the business evolved over the years?
We would define it as firm and solid. Since our father, Jose Luis Marin, decided to found Grafometal together with four other partners, he surrounded himself with an exceptional group of professionals who have made the company a technical reference in the sector. It was a tough start, especially because our closest competitors made it very difficult for us, but from the second year onwards we obtained good technical and performance results.
The distribution of customers in all possible sectors, together with a great diversity in its size, make Grafometal a dynamic and flexible company that has been able to grow and adapt to the circumstances quickly, generating confidence in its customers to achieve a lasting relationship with all of them.
ML- Grafometal is in charge of printing on tinplate, but it is the companies that then give the final shape to the product, which can be cans, aerosols, bottle caps or glass jar lids, among others. Which products are generating the highest volume of work?
Mainly those linked to the food sector are always the ones that better withstand the moments of uncertainty, but in all of them it is noticeable that consumer confidence in products where tinplate is present is increasing, for its durability, quality and for being 100% recyclable, so we could say that the volume is growing in all of them, with some variability throughout the year. In this sense, we are working hard to have an important presence in all of them.
ML-Besides manufacturing packaging for large leading multinationals in Europe, you also have medium and small customers, is demand being maintained for this type of customer?
Yes, because despite their size they are strategic for many brands as they cover a market niche where “the big ones” do not want to be. Precisely these types of customers are part of our identity. We grew thanks to them and they helped us to make a niche for ourselves in this sector, so we continue to take care of them every day because they are also the most loyal and those who, despite the crisis, never disappear and will always have their place in Grafometal.
ML- Your company continually invests to remain one of the most prominent leaders in its sector, with the aim of increasing its customers and thus being able to expand its workforce. What are the challenges Grafometal faces in 2023?
We must work intensively with our suppliers to contain raw material prices and with our customers to maintain volume loyalty in 2023. It must be a year where we have to optimize our costs as much as possible because in the last 18 months we have lived through a madness between massive increases in raw material prices and now energy prices.
ML- Another issue to highlight is Grafometal’s firm commitment to corporate social responsibility, since it has an equality plan for the incorporation of women into its productive activity, specific measures for work-life balance and language training during work time.
We have always been committed to this, we were pioneers in promoting work-life balance since our father was a visionary back in 1988 and established a continuous workday for the entire administrative and senior management department. With respect to equality, we understood that the presence of women in the productive sphere would greatly enrich our process, the work environment and provide new opportunities for women, as has been demonstrated. Offering language or other types of training helps personal growth and is a fundamental aspect that we must take care of if we have the possibilities to do so.
ML- In terms of sustainability and energy efficiency, what actions does Grafometal carry out?
Our facilities are designed to try to take advantage of natural lighting in the most practical way possible, and we have long been committed to replacing traditional lighting with LEDs, once this technology has advanced in color rendering.
In addition, we have installed photovoltaic panels for self-consumption on our roofs, reducing our CO2 emissions by 250 tons/year, and we will continue to look for ways to reduce it even further.