SANTOS MORTE: the Company in the eyes of its founder (chapter 1)
Santos, as a child
Santos defines himself as an ordinary person, but restless and eager to do things. He has always been curious to learn and find solutions where others do not see them.
If he thinks something is important, he gives 200%.
Santos is the 9th of 10 brothers. Born into a family of scarce resources, he went to school early, where he remembers having a real desire to learn. The school opened his eyes and mind to other fields and, as he says, he has never stopped learning since.
He remembers how his father had a carriage workshop, in Pradejón, so the world of iron was no stranger to him. When he was only 8 or 9 years old, he showed real interest in this craftsmanship. For little Santos, building a carriage was equivalent to making a work of art.
His father told him something that he has never forgotten:
“You have to do what you like … and do it well.”
It is a phrase that summarizes his passionate and perfectionist character at work.
Santos left school at 14 and learned accounting in an academy in Calahorra where he went for an hour every day. He was very good with numbers.
At the age of 15, he went to work in his brother’s workshop, a high level craftsman, to “take care of the books”.
Then one day in 1961, Santos came into the workshop when a first die was being made for Cerámica Izquierdo, a local company.
Santos discovered a new product which he considered had a big future, as there were no specialized companies in making these types of parts at that time.
What he liked most was that each die was different and that you learned with each one.
First you had to draw it, then it was designed and tested – and many times it broke. In that case, you had to find out where the problem was, learn and start all over again (this system is now called Design Thinking). This was what motivated Santos: finding out why, solving the problem, finding out what it could be used for – or, as he says, gave meaning to the work.
Santos spent 14 years with his brother Ricardo and during this time discovered two things that would shape his future.
During 1963-64, the first installation of a die for double hollow brick with 3 exits was produced in an automatic system.
Try as they might, the bricks always broke. Then one Good Friday, at 8am, Santos personally visited the customer’s premises. He spent several hours looking, searching, finding until he finally discovered that no air was circulating between the bricks. So without a second thought, he went to the workshop and spent the rest of the day and night making drawings by hand, looking for solutions and making prototypes on paper.
The next day he manufactured some blades that, when cutting the brick, allow the circulation of air. He assembled them and … eureka!! the brick did not break.
In addition, this type of groove was the solution for the exit of bricks in a horizontal position. Using this new system, bricks extruded with Morte dies did not stick together, while the competitors’ did.
Inner steel discovery
When Santos was about 20 years old, a customer from Orense came in with a big problem: the dies he used did not last due to excessive abrasion from the clay used to produce the bricks.
Santos did not stop until he found the solution: covering the casing with inner steel. At that time, with the few tools that there were, developing a die with inner steel was a real challenge.
During the 14 years he worked with his brother, every die he manufacture was an opportunity to learn something new.