Vale & Filhos: Interview

Vale & Filhos: InterviewCarlos Vale and Rui Vale at Mobis Award 2019

From the project to your home, kitchens that will be the stage of sharing and happy moments, without neglecting functionality and particular needs, are the essence of the know-how and notoriety achieved in these 36 years of Vale & Filhos in the market

With the main objective of occupying its own space in the regional market, in the area of the manufacture of kitchen furniture, “Vale & Filhos – Indústria e Comércio de Móveis, Lda.” was born in August 1987, a limited liability company, distributed by the founder (Mr. Celso Vale) and by two of his five children, José Carlos and Rui Manuel.

Follow the interview in this article.

Vale & Filhos: InterviewCelso Vale, Founder of Vale & Filhos

With more than 35 years in the market, how was Vale & Filhos born?
With the main objective of occupying its own space in the regional market, in the area of the manufacture of kitchen furniture, “Vale & Filhos – Indústria e Comércio de Móveis, Lda.” was born in August 1987, a limited liability company, distributed by the founder (Mr. Celso Vale) and by two of his five children, José Carlos and Rui Manuel.
However, there is a path prior to this, since 1983, in which the founder (Mr. Celso Vale), with a few years of experience in the furniture area, decides to develop this activity further and forms his own business, at the time, called “Cozinhas Vale”.

How does the NOTCH brand come about and what characterizes it?
The NOTCH® trademark was born, on the one hand, by the need to give identity to the products designed and marketed by the company “Vale & Filhos, Lda.” and, on the other hand, it was something that had to happen to characterize our “DNA” and to assert ourselves in the resale market, alongside other existing brands, mainly international.
From then on, our partners, or rather, whoever marketed our products, would always be doing so under the brand
identity. The name itself (NOTCH) means notch, small V-shaped cut in the margin of anything; it is a fitting, a slit. At the same time, it means gorge and valley, correlated here to the familiar name «Vale».
NOTCH®, as a brand, is based on some premises, that is, on the most rational/practical aspect, it is a short name, easy to pronounce, impactful, comprehensive, international and legible for registration. As for the emotional/affective side, the NOTCH® brand honors the origins, history, legacy and praises the “know-how”, based on the Know-How of more than 35 years of work.

Year after year, NOTCH has been distinguished as a “SME Leader”, what is the impact of this distinction on the brand?
Yes, in fact, for some years now, Vale & Filhos has been recognized by IAPMEI, through the attribution of the status of “PME Líder”, and, since 2018, we have been awarded the status of “PME Excelência”, for the superior performance of several economic/financial indicators that the company has presented to official bodies and the market. Now, this “reputation seal” allows the company to relate to all Stakeholders on a basis of trust, credibility and solidity. It is clear that this status, coupled with the fact that we are a company certified by the NP EN ISO 9001:2015 standard, is particularly relevant to the NOTCH® brand, adding more notoriety to it, also making it more responsible.

How important are authorized agents in Notch’s growth?
This issue is particularly relevant, not least because it marks, if we want, a before and after, after defining a strategy designed to work with the designated authorized agents, which we call “NOTCH® Partners”. Since its inception, the company has developed its entire commercial activity through a direct relationship with the market, that is, with the final consumer and/or with the construction companies that bought kitchens from us. When in 2006 we started the construction of a new manufacturing unit, with more sophisticated machines, with technology (CAD/CNC) and with more qualified human resources, it was clear that, from a productive point of view, we would have more and better conditions to be able, commercially, to take wider steps. Hence, in 2009, we redefined our entire business strategy, with very positive consequences and with a significant impact on the company’s evolutionary process. In this regard, we have defined marketing rules for the district of Viseu, where, through our showroom, we have a direct connection with the regional market. At the national level (mainland and islands), we sought to establish partnerships with companies specialized in our business area and that needed a credible company/brand that was a benchmark of quality, rigor and service and, as a specialist in the production of kitchen furniture, wardrobes and bathrooms, could be an asset and a reliable, coherent and consistent solution in the market. Today, modesty aside, we are the Portuguese company with the largest national network of authorized agents (NOTCH® Partners) who, in the various regions, market our product and promote our NOTCH® brand.

Export was something you bet on, what are the objectives in this regard?
It is important to keep in mind that exports allow us to level seasonal fluctuations in sales, compensating for fluctuations in production, that is, the lowest periods of commercial activity in the domestic market, are not equally low in the international circuit and vice versa.
On the other hand, and because different markets require and absorb different products, there is always the possibility of exploring the sale of other types of NOTCH® models and products that may be less in demand
internally. The internationalization of an organization should not be treated as a single market. A company that intends to expand its business internationally must carry out a prior assessment of the foreign market it intends, in order to foresee the best expansion options and, subsequently, define a clear entry strategy that will allow it to overcome future emerging challenges.
The competitive advantages and the potential impact of internationalization on the internal strategy must be analyzed, as well as an assessment of the benefits and risks inherent to the externalization of the business. Each market is different and therefore it is essential to be able to understand the realities, languages and cultures of different countries, their needs and specificities, as well as having a clear knowledge of the legislation.
In a very brief way, it is important to say that, before moving on to any direct and regular export process, companies must meet strategic, economic, financial and technical viability conditions that allow them to successfully expand their business abroad.
Now, with this perspective, we continue with the desire to continue to grow in the foreign market, mainly in the French market (southeast area) where we already have a presence. We will try to explore other channels that deserve credibility and where we can observe the possibility of expansion. At our initiative, and in markets we already know from the past (Luxembourg, Switzerland and France), we will make new contact approaches with companies that sell kitchens, wardrobes and/or baths.

Vale & Filhos: InterviewVale & Filhos Admnistration

Looking to the future, what is Notch’s path?
Today, the practice of management faces an uncertain, turbulent and complex world, where predictability is only partially controlled. It is necessary to give quick answers to the challenges posed to companies and this can only be achieved when all organizational members, and especially managers and/or directors, assume an attentive and dynamic posture, in order to identify the opportunities that the surrounding environment offers them, as well as the threats that may arise from it.
Note that, in these challenging times, we all realize the constant demand for change and adaptation to such a dynamic reality that is often disruptive and awakens in us the feeling that some things that have resulted in the past no longer work so well now, and it is necessary to change them. Business management now has to consider several variables of atypical size and scope, with repercussions on business accounts.
It is important to be clear that before reaching any goal, we need to know exactly what we want to achieve and how far we want to go. When a company has no set goals, it will most likely get nowhere. That is why, having a strategy is having a commitment to the future we want, even if it is an uncertain and more difficult future. Hence, the importance of developing a strategic work plan, which, being important for large companies, is even more indispensable for so-called SMEs, such as ours.
Planning becomes essential to the long-term survival of the organization.
Therefore, we must continue to increase the involvement of all people in our organizational system, improving the internal relations between employees and the external relations we maintain with all our partners, whether customers, suppliers or other entities.
We must continue to promote teamwork, the development of new skills and the sharing of knowledge in all tasks performed, especially in the productive environment. It is essential to continue to do things well, that is, to be efficient and at the same time, to do the right things, that is, to be effective. Often, in order to do things well, we forget to check if we are doing the right things. It is very important for our organization to create a compromise between efficiency and effectiveness. Only in this way will we achieve operational profitability and reap the necessary benefits for the continuous development of the company. We must look at technology as a working “partner” and therefore, it is crucial to generalize and maximize the use of the various software we have at our disposal, either in the preparation, planning or monitoring of the production process, or in obtaining reliable information that allows us to monitor the industrial process more closely.
The investment we have made in new machines, which has allowed us to strengthen and improve installed production capacity, gives us the opportunity to advance commercially in the search for new customers, as we have more efficient and effective response capacity.
We should all, in our company, have the ambition to present ourselves to the market as a solid, certified, reliable and leading company, in innovation, quality, service delivery, attitude and commitment to everyone and excellence. To finish, we would like to make three underlines, namely:

  • All top companies have in common the fact that they value the people who work in them. Therefore, there are no successful companies with dissatisfied people.
  • Often, most problems are not associated with crises, markets, competitors or the absence of customers, but with the fact that a company has a wrong business model, that is, focused on the product, when the market requires customer focus.
  • The fundamental thing is to understand that, today, the relationship with the customer is continuous and that the relationship does not end with the purchase and/or sale. This continuity is the guarantee of future business. If the supplier appears to the customer only at the time of purchase, the success will most likely be reduced.

In conclusion, it only remains for us to thank the magazine Mobiliário em Notícia for the opportunity it gave us to be able to make ourselves known a little more.
Without forgetting, we send a greeting with great appreciation and consideration to the Hon. Emídio Brandão, a tireless person whose work has given great visibility to the furniture sector and to what is best done in our country.

Vale & Filhos: Interview