April 20, 2021

"Prohibit the manufacture of combustion cars is a monstrosity" – The Province

"Prohibit the manufacture of combustion cars is a monstrosity" - The Province

Vicente Garrido, in the heart of his Valladolid factory. | CÉSAR MANSO

Vicente Garrido he welcomes us in the meeting room of a small single-floor building on the factory floor, in Valladolid. It is austere and functional. On the sides, on display tables, brake discs, car steering wheels and some prizes of large automobile multinationals. In a corner, hanging from the wall, small photos of George Bush touring that same facility. Who was going to tell him when he started? The room is the heart of Special ingots, where Garrido examines all the decisions meticulously. Although he says he trusts blindly in his intuition, nothing escapes the control of a president who makes a point when it comes to saving his company. And he never bites his tongue. He has left a life in her, but he does not doubt: the first thing is his family. With this interview, Iberian Press, publisher of this newspaper, and KPMG, a global group of advisory and audit services, begin a joint project to raise awareness of the opinions of the country's leading entrepreneurs. Those who leave their mark.

– We have wanted by system, and a little by obsession, to maintain an exhaustive control of the factory. On the day two or three of each month I attend a meeting of those responsible for the operation. We analyze spending, use of raw materials, hours / man and kilowatt hour per ton … That's the real productivity. Now all things are mixed. If something has not been done well, it must be corrected. The staff speaks of absenteeism. And what has it been due to? Well, let's see how we improve that. The electric power says: "Instead of 0.7 kilowatts have been spent 0.9". Why? Have measures been taken? To take it All you have to know after two days, because if you find out at the end of the year … To fix things you need to notice it as soon as possible. Then comes the economic component, which has cost each unit. Ten days after the end of a month we know the result.

– Now, with a computer, it's easier.
-But we have it from the beginning. We started to bring the "zero base" budget here before they called it "zero base".

-That allows you to be more attached to the juncture.
-It is convenient, but when there is a crisis … If we all start saying that it will come badly, it will come badly. There is also no optimism to say "live life, all at a hundred per hour." We have to be realist.

Is it wrong?
-No good.

-The industry is a leading indicator.
-With the statements of Minister Ribera, the automotive industry is shaking and wobbling. It has been outrageous. The collective fear is very bad. Two years ago, during Holy Week in Seville, there was a stampede. Nobody knows why, but two people started running, then fourteen, twenty thousand … and they drowned seven. What happened? Nothing. A bomb? No. One shrieked, another fell, another ran, a crowd followed. And seven died. What a joke! The fuel is the same movie, although a rough comparison.

– Is not the sector doing well because of the Minister's statements or the economy is getting cold?
-It was not excessive growth last year, but it was not cooling so much. Those words have been the finishing touch. The Minister said "diesel is numbered days". I thought that, since I did not know about engines, maybe it was about perfume. Then came the President: "in the year 2040 they stop making combustion cars and in 2050 their circulation is prohibited". That is a lightness and a monstrous banality … I do not worry about 2020, for natural reasons, but it is a barbarity in all orders. It attacks against the freedom of the people. When, at the beginning of the century, in New York, there are horses, Mr. Ford manufactures the Ford T. No one forbids carriages. Gradually, the car moves them. Prohibit manufacturing in Spain is a monstrosity. In Morocco, in Algeria and in Greece they will continue to use combustion cars. Here we build about three million vehicles and enroll one million, including imported ones. It means that we export a million cars to those countries, which will continue to use them. We will lose that export. It does not fit in the human head. When Mr. Ford floods the market with the T he talks about the American dream. The car is the greatest sign of freedom in the world. Will it be the same with the electric? No. I do not have it loaded, I do not have autonomy … They have legislated as if the whole country were Madrid or Barcelona and had its contamination. They do not know that Aguilar de Campó exists or that there is a person who wants to go to Extremadura and he has to foresee how to recharge the battery. I have nothing against the electric car, although I do not see it as a substitute.

-The technology will evolve.
-It is imposed, yes. Since 1780, when the industrial revolution begins and Mr. Watt invents the steam engine, it has never been forbidden to do one thing because the next one comes. The new one displaces the previous one, the old one. When the electric light arrives nobody prohibits the candles. They're still existing. Whoever wants to make them. Somewhere you will need a lamp. When the reactor is born, the propeller aircraft are not vented. To decontaminate, we must first see where the source of the pollution is. A French report states that everything that dirties cars equals the emissions of the five largest ships. And there are thousands sailing the seas.

– The decarbonization pursues a spurious objective?
– It's like what the Russians did in their time. An atrocity. And a measure, like many of the things of governments that call themselves democrats and socializers, that only benefits the rich. A Twingo weighs 750 kilos and costs 14,000 euros. The Zoe, electric, also Renault – very nice, by the way, weighs 1,500 kilos. Moving all those kilos to transport a person or two costs energy. That balance nobody does. The Zoe is around 30,000 euros, double. A Twingo pollutes very little, I have it for the city. A Tesla is worth more than 100,000 euros and weighs two tons. In Spain there are 22 million vehicles, how are they going to be replaced? Where will all the people who work in the automotive industry go? To us, in our star pieces, it would not affect us. What the electric car does carry are brakes, more than combustion because of its high weight.

-Then it benefits them.
-It is not known, the big manufacturers are pressing and denouncing the situation. But I insist: it is an attack against the freedom of the people. You have to let me do what I want, within some rules, of course. It would make more sense to remove the cars with 20 years, because they pollute twice as much as they do now. With some prudence, because the owners of those cars are not millionaires. They lengthen their use because they may lack the means to change them. And the vehicle is not a whim but a necessity for the person who lives in a small town and works in the city. Those are the ones that must be attended to. It is acted lightly. To say that the electricity does not pollute is a cretinez like the cup of a pine, because they will not emit there but where the power plant that produces the electricity is. If they stop coal, they will be the combined cycle. Wind energy covers 18% of the market. How are you going to cover the rest with renewables?

"It has never been prevented from producing one thing because the next one comes, the new always displaces the old"

-The political decisions that affect the economy are taken with ideological criteria and not economic?
– Neither technological. A Minister does not have to know what a combustion engine is. Catalysts can be put in to avoid nitrogen dioxide and CO2. Evolution of the hydrogen battery. Hydrogen does not emit CO2 but water, does not contaminate anything. Let you advance the investigation quietly. To reduce CO2 there are a few fields of action before. The car can be squeezed, demanded, as has already been done. What I think is great is to fight local pollution. The famous "beret", that neither these cars nor those circulate in Madrid. They have that in Germany and in London more than 20 years ago. To enter Dusseldorf with an old car you have to pay 5 euros. There are people who pay and did not give a damn. Another thing is that a day comes when you do not even pass with a ticket. The contaminations do have to be fought, with an electric car or with a wind car, or with skates. You can not live in a submerged city.

– We allow cars that pollute and we do not let them circulate?
-It has been legislated as if all of Spain were Madrid or Barcelona. We are Castilla y León, 90,000 square kilometers, 2.3 million inhabitants. To see us, do we take a spyglass? In the next town live seven and you go in a stroller. All these communications must be taken into account. But listen, if I'm 500 kilometers away and I only have autonomy for 250? For you on the road, plug in an hour, take a rod? If one travels from Madrid to Seville, they have to stop in Mérida for the night. That is coerce.

– Are investment and consumption withdrawn due to fear of another crisis?
-Yes a little bit. None of the smelters, we are eight or ten in all Europe, has planned to spend a bit on investment for two months. It is already a signal. Do you mean that they are going to do less? No, it means that they will not do more. We are all unemployed for fear of something happening, and we are generating a crisis that may be worse than the previous one. As they say of horses, we walk with stiff ears watching to see what happens.

-But if we continue like this for two years, we'll end up paying for it.
– The situations of doubt admit little time. When the horse gallops and suddenly sees a strange thing, it pokes its ears. Check that it is nothing and follow. We have to do something. Or I see it very bad and close, or it is not so bad. Spend time and nothing has happened, well look, let's start this we had a little frozen. You can not live with fear as a general tone because that is not life.

"It is listed as if all of Spain were Madrid and Barcelona"

-Some day he said "I close and I go".
– No, if perhaps the other way around, because we have a little in the spotlight some political and environmental associations. Improperly. What breaks a filter? Well of course. This weekend, on the road, I do not know if ten or twelve people have been killed, but nobody thinks to ask anyone to get back into a car. "As there is a breakdown, the factory must be closed." It is a cretinez. One in the house is damaged by a dishwasher and does not break the dishes. Fix it There are problems, of course. An installation that is full of machines and that has thirty megawatts installed, with 600 workers, that handles a thousand tons a day of cast iron in broth at 1,300 degrees can be broken. The other day broke a wheelbarrow and black smoke came out. What happens? Well nothing, what will happen. Nobody should suffer a heart attack or a fall, but there are heart attacks and falls.

-The fire last summer was a critical moment?
– Yes, but not with the importance of the tragic.

-What has been your greatest satisfaction in these 50 years? And the most unpleasant thing?
-There have been many, we will be sincere, but being approved by large automotive firms, as now, supposes a tremendous joy. The PSA group has given us the prize as the best supplier this year, a pride. All the qualifications and new technological modifications that we have made are a satisfaction.
And then, the bad parts, the truth, have always been due to external factors. The day a judge asked us to close the plant, for example.

The president of Special Ingots, next to the sculpture of a smelter in the offices of his factory. | CÉSAR MANSO

-For pollution, for a permit we did have. In all of Castilla y León there were only two granted and one was ours. The others, I do not want to point out, lacked him. But it is that the kind of persecution mania, personal I would say, that they have … You take the displeasure. I said that if it closed it would not open again. I remember that a journalist who called me to informemse asked: "And the people?" The one that closes the factory, that places them, but, even if it is half an hour closed, it does not reopen.

-Because I do not want to. You order me to close, I close. And now he tells me to open, I say go to send your mother, you do not send me. I open when I want.

-And what did the judge say?
– He did not order to close (smiles).

-In half an hour closed, how many customers are lost?
– Total panic.

– Everything for the client?
– Without him we would not live. It is working with very few profit margins. The competitions are hard.

– By consumer demand or because costs such as energy have also gone up?
-And more than going up, this year we are shivering. Our client does not support increments. Last year did not affect. We get something that affects raw materials like scrap, but in energy they are always very closed.

-When do I have to say I was wrong and correct?
-I, thank God, I've noticed twice. In time to spare. One day I said: we have lost so much, not one more peseta. We cut and goodbye.

"When the factory opened, did anyone imagine that a whole US president, like George Bush, was going to be touring these facilities?"

-Aother thing.
-It's over, no more. I always say that business has to be a measured risk activity. If one wants danger, take the money, go to the casino and bet on 36. That is pure risk, you can win or lose. The company has to assume a measured and affordable risk. That happened to us with Alcoa. I was in Pittsburgh, with the president. You go with the first world manufacturer of aluminum, of ours, and you go there, little more than circling the beret … How do you see? I said. In the automotive industry we are more than you, we can go together, he answered. Ah, very good, very good sir. The thing was not like that.

-What went wrong?
-We bought in Manchester a foundry in which Alcoa had had an engineer for a year. He had not heard anything. That did not work backwards. Soon after investing, we sold, liquidated and left. Then we had another option. We had an aluminum smelter here in Valladolid. You had to put ten million euros. There came a time when the story ran through me. I say no, we do not ride; we sell. And the other partners insisted. I say no, and twice no, we sell this, 80%, very cheap, but we do not enter. In these years they have lost some 30 million euros, have gone bankrupt and have closed. I saw it and I intuited it before.

– Intuition and the luck factor are important?
-Intuition is anticipating a little thinking about what will happen. See a priori one thing that you like or that you look at the papers and say "pssss …". If you do not see it clear you have to leave before you start. When the factory opened, did anyone imagine that a whole president of the United States, like George Bush, was going to be touring these facilities? Nothing, zero patatero! Unthinkable.

– The future of Ingots?
-As it has been these years, with constant innovation. That is, growth no. If we make 6,000 tons, will we make 150,000? Not that. As I always say, a growth that is necessary to survive leads to certain death because you can not be growing indefinitely.

– The family is the great sacrificed of a businessman?
-Not for me. I have a large family, with nine children, twenty-five grandchildren, two great-grandchildren. By the way, I took them the other day to the hairdresser, to cut my hair with me. His mother cut their throats to cut their hair … The family has always been above everything, has always been the first goal of my life.


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