The story of Imer Chile SA is written on the face and in the worlds of its founder, Sr. Claudio Muñoz Valenzuela. It is a cheerful face, at times showing nostalgia when he looks back, and at the same time open to new challenges when he looks to the future. His words often include terms such as “trust” and “growth”.
Sr. Muñoz talks about Imer, and to do so looks back 20 years, to 1998, when he came across Fassi cranes, which were already gaining fame worldwide, while leafing through a specialist magazine. “Until a few months earlier, it was our competitor,” he remembers. Imer no longer had a crane supplier and was looking for the best. The choice was Fassi. All it took was a telephone call with the then-commercial director to get things moving. The result is a story that has been going on for two decades and continues in the wake of the 2000 Fassi cranes that have been sold in both Chile and Peru.
Imer has been a Fassi distributor for more than 20 years… How and when did the relationship with Fassi begin?
It began in 1998. Before that we imported cranes from Sweden. Initially they were used cranes, and then later on, new models. When the collaboration with the Swedish manufacturer came to an end in 1997, I started looking for a new brand. I knew of Fassi, and when I came across a article dedicated to them in a specialist magazine, I decided to call the company. I spoke with the then-commercial director, and that was the beginning of our role as Fassi distributors for Chile.
Which were the first Fassi cranes sold in your area?
The first Fassi cranes imported and then sold were the F170, the F190 and the F210. Since then we have sold approximately 2000.
What are the strengths of Imer Chile as a company that have allowed it to establish itself in the market over the last 20 years?
When we began our activity, we managed to gain our significant portion of the market because we imported cranes that we then held in stock, allowing for immediate delivery. This is something that our competitors didn’t do.
Over the years, we have grown thanks to the economic boom experienced in the country, but mostly due to our being a solid family-run company that has developed an after-sales service that is founded on a client-centred focus.
Obviously, the fact that we are present on the market with a brand like Fassi has helped us to gain a certain level of prestige.
Chile is the number-one producer of copper in the world, so mines are a very important resource. How much of your activity is connected to the mining industry?
70 percent of our cranes have been sold to the mining sector. Thanks to Fassi, we have created a wide range of made-to-measure solutions to respond to the requirements of this sector, and crane configurations have been produced which respond to the requested safety criteria.
This customisation and research has therefore led to the development of specific products for Chile that have then found application in other markets. We have served as pioneers, and this has strengthened our relationship of trust and exchange with Fassi. As the mining sector is very demanding, the many innovations introduced to the machines by the company have served to reinforce the relationship between Fassi and the companies operating in this market sector.
Which sectors cover the remaining 30% of the market?
The other sectors are fishing, construction and transport. With regards to fishing, we supply cranes to the marine sector mostly for salmon fishing, which takes place in the south of the country.
Now Imer is a leading company in Peru as well as Chile. How and when did you decide to widen your range of action?
We opened to Peru about ten years ago. Over the years, Chile has grown a lot from an economic point of view, and as they have gained wealth, many companies have begun to invest in bordering countries such as Peru. Fassi had no importer in that country, and so we decided to invest and widen our market, opening a branch in Peru. We currently have headquarters and a second branch there.
As well as Fassi, you now import other products, Marrel above all…
Exactly, and we have quickly become the leaders in our home market for hooklifts, and third worldwide for Marrel.