> Company Profile
In 1941, the world faced a bleak horizon. Construction enterprises had to confront a serious problem: how would they survive until the war was over? If they couldn’t obtain steel, they would have to stop building.
This led to conversations between the leaders of two companies: Acevedo & Shaw, and Civil Constructions Co., of Aguirre & Aragón, which culminated with the creation of Acindar Industria Argentina de Aceros S.R.L..
At that time, the Acevedo & Shaw Company happened to have a few constructions under way in Chile, and that is how one of the partners, Engineer Arturo Acevedo, met with Francisco Agurto Montesinos, President of INDAC (Industrias de Aceros Chilenos), that he had founded in 1935. INDAC had two rolling mills, and as one of them was idle, Montesinos decided to contribute it to the new Company, became a partner and was elected Vice-president.
As a result, at the beginning of 1942, a Limited Responsibility Society was constituted, in which 50% of the capital belonged to the Chilean industrialists, and the remaining 50% to the Argentine builders.
In October of that year, Acindar became an incorporated company, with one million national pesos of seed capital. And thus, assembling of Acindar's plant in Rosario was launched.
One year after its creation, it began production, first with a precarious rolling mill, and later with a 30 tons Siemens Martin blast furnace.
The operation required all the available resourcefulness. Argentina lacked all the necessary inputs, so that everything had to be improvised: refractory material, iron alloys, and ore combinations. One supplier brought fluorite from Córdoba, another brought dolomite from Sierras Bayas; and a third one, very poor manganese from Santiago del Estero. They were all participants in this adventure of building something from scratch.
The necessary skilled labor was provided by the workers from the railroad workshops in Rosario.
It can be said that Acindar was the result of Argentine resourcefulness, made possible by a group of men who had the courage to embark in this adventure and to commit their effort and their capital. Without them, it would never have existed.
When the war ended, reconstruction required more steel, to be used by the Great Powers, so that Acindar achieved consolidation and also had an opportunity for continued growth.
By the end of 1942, the steel mill and the rolling mill were both completed, and in April 1943, production of round bars began. The initial rolling trains functioned by placing the scrap iron in a metal box shaped like a billet. The box was then placed in the heating furnace to melt its contents. Next, an iron lever was used to push it into the rolling trains, so it would be shaped as a bar. Previously, a worker had to cut with a hatchet the billet’s protruding edges.
At the end of 1943, the plant was functioning “highly efficiently and its yield was far greater that anticipated by the most optimistic forecasts”.
In 1946 there was an important change in the shareholder structure, when the Chilean group left Acindar.
That same year, steel production reached 16,000 tons, compared to 11,000 the previous year. In 1947, production grew to 24,000 tons leading to the idea of installing a new plant, with all the new technologies. It was thought a site out of the city was desirable, with the possibility of building a port, and with railway and highway access available. A site with all these characteristics was found in nearby Villa Constitución. It was not far from Rosario, and was very close to San Nicolás, where the future SOMISA was being built, that would provide Acindar with semi-finished steel in the form of billets.
As a result, a large plot of land was bought, on the Paraná river and Highway 9, and conversations were immediately started with the Republic Steel Corporation, a large US company, to obtain updated know-how, since the idea was to apply the latest technology. Financing for this facility was obtained through a loan from the Industrial Credit Bank.
The plant, which as a deserved homage to the man who was its inspiration, would bear the name of Ingeniero Arturo Acevedo, was commissioned in 1951, with a Morgan continuous rolling mill train. With all its equipment in place, the plant started manufacturing wires, and in 1953 added the production of seamed pipes.
The plant at Rosario also expanded with the increase in steel production, with a second Siemens Martin furnace and the renovation of the first one, teeming of blocks (ingots) was improved and a new billet rolling mill train was installed.
The range of finished products manufactured by Acindar included at the time round bars, square bars, flat bars, channels and beams, wires, pipes and rolled steel for the production of screws and bolts, nails, etc.
Ten years after its creation, the company’s production increased eight-fold its original output, and had a payroll of 2,269 people. Acindar had become the country’s leading rolling mill.
On March 29, 1955, Acinfer Industria de Fundiciones de Hierro y Acero S.A. was created, with the purpose of manufacturing all types and sizes of gray malleable cast iron products. Acinfer became the first foundry mill of its kind in Latin America. Sixty one percent of its shares were held by Acindar.
When the new plant (Acinfer) was still under construction, the Argentine railways company cancelled their order for cast wheels. This led to the transformation of the factory to produce motors and other cast products for the car and tractor industries that had began to operate in the country.
Soon, Acindar would begin to manufacture stamped parts for the automobile industry. And thus was born Armetal, built in Pacheco, in the Province of Buenos Aires, a plant that manufactures chassis, disks for brakes, pickup trucks bodies, among other parts for the car and truck industry.
Another company was created for the manufacture of PVC and polyethylene pipes; this was the only company not related to the iron and steel industry. The manufacturing plant was built in Rosario, leading to the creation of Acinplast, 99,96% of whose capital was owned by Acindar.
During those years of horizontal expansion, Indape was founded, a company for the manufacture of silicon and high carbon grades steel sheets.
Between 1962 and 1963, Acindar started manufacturing high grade and special steel, and focused in particular on the production of forged steel for the manufacture of tools, in other words, steel for the manufacture of steel. Thus was founded Marathon Argentina S.A., located in Villa Constitución.
As a whole, the new companies prospered and expanded, but as from 1966, Acindar concentrated its efforts and resources on projects of integral steel making, which led to the divestment of some of these companies, and to a process of concentration, through mergers of other companies with Acindar.
Acindar decided on vertical integration of its production, in order to be self-supplying for the inputs it needed: billets and slabs for narrow strip rolling.
In January 1976, through Resolution N° 228, the National Executive approved the Integration Project of Acindar’s manufacturing process.
Acindar fulfilled all its obligations within schedule, including technological improvements and increase of production capacity, above the Government’s requirements. From the macroeconomic perspective, the project contributed to the consolidation of the manufacturing pole in the littoral region of Argentina, to increase job opportunities, to improve the foreign currency balance, to increase the GDP and to progress towards self-supply of iron and steel.
And there is also the history of Gurmendi S.A., founded by Manuel Gurmendi. In 1972, Gurmendi became the majority shareholder of Santa Rosa, thus launching the process of industrial integration which ended with the merger of 3 companies: Gurmendi, Genaro Grasso and Santa Rosa, with ACINDAR S.A. The merger resulted in a vast integrated iron and steel complex capable of large scale production, and most important of all, it included the largest private steel and rolling mills in Argentina.
In 1980, the domestic rolling industry was going through difficult times. A substantial part of the rolling industry was concentrated at Acindar and Gurmendi. The latter, although it had electrical furnaces and continuous casting facilities, was idle, due high costs, and therefore had to buy billets from Somisa. Acindar could supply those billets.
In September 1981, the final merger agreement was signed, and Gurmendi S.A. (regular steel), Establecimientos Metalúrgicos Santa Rosa S.A. (special steels) and Genaro Grasso S.A. (seamed steel pipes) became part of Acindar.
A program was launched immediately to close down the least efficient plants and to eliminate overlaps in activities. In 1980, eight plants were functioning, but by December 1982, the same output was achieved with only three plants. During the 1979/1980 fiscal year, production represented 93 tons per employee, and by 1982/1983, that figure increased to 126 tons.
Acindar pursued its growth during 1986. At La Tablada, an electric furnace was transformed into a “ultra high power” furnace, and a computerized ladle furnace was installed.At the Villa Constitución plant, two furnaces were added, one known as the "Eccentric bottom tapping" system, and a computerized ladle furnace
During 1987, Acindar decided to pursue its industrial expansion by installing new manufacturing plants in the province of San Luis that would employ the materials supplied by Villa Constitución and La Tablada. Finished products covered a wide range of cold drawn products and other processes, including wires for agricultural use, wire mesh for construction and job-shop meshes for steel strands.
In 1989, Argentina went through hyperinflation, and as consequence raw steel consumption fell to 57 kg. per inhabitant, a figure that went backwards in time to 1953.
That year, an attempt was made to optimize the organization and to decrease operational costs. With this goal in mind, a consulting group of international prestige and with significant experience in Latin America was hired. This group designed and helped implement a new business structure, based on business units, with direct accountability for transaction profitability, sales volumes and administrative activities.
At that time, dramatic changes were taking place in Argentina, which included privatization of the main State owned companies, including steel mills, stabilization of the exchange rate and cost of life, together with a strong inflow of investment and an attitude of opening to the rest of the world and promotion of growth. Because of all this, it became indispensable to achieve the highest international standards, both in quality and price, in order to be able to compete domestically and internationally and to grow together with the country. Local demand for iron and steel products was being felt, and all forecasts indicated sustained growth of the GDP.
With this aim in mind, important investments were made, which increased our production capacity, improved the quality of our products and decreased production costs. In the second half of the decade, a certain slow-down became apparent in the implementation of reforms that would allow the achievement of a primary surplus, compatible with the maintenance of the dollar/peso parity, known as “convertibility”. State expenditure remained high, with a great need for funds, that in turn fueled a sustained increase in interest rates.
Toward the end of 1998 a slump in the economy became obvious. Misguided policies perpetuated this situation, even if a timid tendency to overcome recession was felt for brief periods. Unfortunately, the new Administration which came into place in 1999 was unable to correct the situation, which became increasingly serious with time, until it became frankly chaotic by the end of 2001. Inevitably, this economic recession, with very expensive domestic costs when measured in dollars and impossibly high interest rates, had a strong negative impact on our Company.
Before these events, the Acevedo family, who were the controlling shareholders of the Society, clearly realized that with globalization becoming a reality all over the world, it became necessary to implement some kind of strategic alliance that would enable them to achieve a presence at the regional and international levels.Thus, the Acevedo family sold 50% of their shares to Belgo Mineira, an important iron and steel company in Brazil, whose main shareholder was the steel industry Arbed, from Luxembourg.
This new shareholding structure not only contributed additional capital, but also made it possible to share technological and business know-how, thus avoiding the deterioration of the company’s economic and financial situation, in spite of the extreme crisis in our country.
Today, Arbed has merged with Aceralia of Spain and Usinor of France, creating a new corporation, Arcelor, which has become the world’s leading steel manufacturer.
Devaluation, that took place at the beginning of 2002, together with the investments made in the 90’s and Acindar’s exporter tradition and the support of its new shareholders, has made it possible to recover the manufacturing activity and a reasonable generation of funds.
We trust the new structure of the Company. In this brief history, we have tried to relate some of the ups-and-downs Acindar has gone through.Today, we confront a new and complex challenge that we are gradually overcoming, as we have done in the past, in the fluctuating economy in which we live.