The VI Award for the Longest Membership goes this year to Metalnox, a company associated to AENB since 1993. The company, specialized in all that has with metal work to do is a good example of the capacity to adapt to change that our industrial fabric has and to take advantage of Investigation, Development and Innovation. The director of Metalnox, Ignacio Arias, gives us a review of the extensive trajectory of his company.
What does the award mean to you?
The truth is we have been a long time in the business so it is great to be recognized.
What can you tell us about the trajectory of the company and your own career?
We are two lifelong associates, José Rua and myself. We started in ´85 or ´86 with a joint assets company attending the demand in the Calvià area and the nearby ports. Later, I think in 1992 we founded the Limited Liability Company (S.L) and from there on we have been developing the business. We extended to other activities that had to do with metal work in some urbanisations in the area, and the company kept growing, ultimately specially in the nautical sector.
For a time, between ´92 and ´96, we were located in the Moll Vell in Palma. Particularly during those years we became well known in the nautical circles. In year 2000 and thereafter we have also participated in some trade fairs in Club de Mar. From then on we have collaborated in many national and international fairs, exhibiting our products (sometimes through third parties).
We are originally from Bilbao. Already my father was in the trade, although I have developed the management side more. I have been witness to the evolution in metal work and specially nautical metal work. I even lived through the naval restructuring in the Basque Country. My associate who concentrates more on the production side worked in important ship yards since young age, both in Barreras, Vigo and in Galicia. We formed the company together and have always worked well together.
You have an extensive career…What is your understanding of the changes in the nautical world over the last decades?
Truth to be spoken we have been adapting to circumstances. The demand wasn´t that big to begin with, and the nautical sector has developed a lot since then. Today there are a lot more professionals compared to earlier decades. Everything is more sophisticated and requires specialization. We have also collaborated with various welding schools. In the early days there were hardly any authorized welders. Everybody has become more profesional, and we were ready for it. We were keen to occupy a good slice of the market and I believe we have managed to do that despite the current situation.
How is Metalnox going to face the future?
At the moment we are going through an internal mini restructuring in various aspects. We are sharpening our wits and have started to change various things according to a strategic plan that we have elaborated. Right now we are waiting for the demand to pick to put it in practice. We have trained our staff further, we have an internal welding school and we are continuously improving our production systems. We do a lot of research over the bigger reparations that we are going to realise, we plan and draw in 3D, both with Autocad and Solid Works. Almost all the even minimally worthwhile projects are done this way. We do even animated 3D that we often send to our clients so they can see clearer what is going to be constructed.
I can see that Investigation, Development and Innovation (I+D+I) is a very important part of your company.
Yes, we study a lot and look at all the pros and cons before we start to prepare or produce anything, in order to eliminate any possible errors in the production process. The final result is a better productivity. We regularly manage to do that, although not always which is normal.
What problems do you face in your day to day work?
We are aware of the many problems facing the nautical sector, like fees and the matriculation tax, but these do not hit a fully since we are in production and repairs. Our biggest complaint at the moment is the lack of help with employment. The employment costs are still very high in this country, taking into account the current situation. Another problem we have is the high cost of having installed ourselves in STP. On one side we have the principal workshop with 3000 m2 of land in Son Bugadelles, but to have our workshop of 622 ms in STP drives the costs very high and it is difficult to make it pay for itself in the current situation. Even more so when we can only count on 20 working days a month.
We entrepreneurs miss an employment system with decent subventions in social security. The social security costs of an employee are very high at the moment. Some years ago it was a different story, but right now it is very expensive.
To finish off, what services does Metalnox offer?
We do a great variety of work. For example my associate is a sculptor and his sculptures can be found even in the royal household! When it comes to the nautical sector, at the moment we do anything that has with a reform, modification or repairs to do. We have authorizations to weld aluminium without limits. Apart from ship yards, we are the most professionalized company when it comes to welding and naval construction and reparation, just about everything except new builds. Our average amount of authorized welders is higher tan any of our competitors,