SANTOS MORTE: the Company in the eyes of its founder (chapter 2)
The Origin of Talleres Morte
In 1975, the two brothers went their separate ways and Santos established himself in a rented 70m2 basement room, of which only 20m2 was covered with tiles, assuming that at that time the difficulty of manufacturing dies was great due to the scarcity of machinery available to produce them.
On May 26, 1975, Santos entered his new company at 8.00am and by 10 o’clock the file he had bought was no longer of any use. So he had to buy a new filing tool, with the problem of finding the money for it.
The dies had to be almost handmade, as the machinery available then was very primitive.
By that time, Santos was aware of the value of innovation in the company. So one of the first decisions he took was to patent the Inner Steel System and a new Core Holder system special for dies.
The success of MORTE was built upon this basis.
That same year he bought his first tempering furnace, as he could not find anyone to temper his dies.
Santos recalls how he tempered at night so as not to leave people without energy. While the furnace was cooling, sometimes the heat was used to roast a kid or suckling pig. His eyes shine with the memory, even today.
Santos recalls how one of his first jobs was for Ladrilleras Alavesas, visiting customers in a taxi with his brother-in-law eating home-made omelette or chorizo sandwiches.
The business grows – Tungsten carbide
Four years later, he bought a house and moved the workshop to the basement measuring 250m2.
MORTE began to become a benchmark in the manufacture of dies at the national level, due to Santos maintaining his philosophy of continuing to innovate through a continuous search for solutions to make his dies the most profitable on the market.
In 1978, one of his brothers living in Granollers commented to him that there was a company in Catalonia that worked with a material called “Hard Metal” (tungsten carbide). This immediately piqued Santos’ curiosity, who drew some designs on paper, devising a way to assemble it and he went to see if they could produce it for him.
He took the die to Cerámica Cuesta, a company in Segovia, and asked them to try it at their premises. They agreed they would contact him to place it. Time passed, one day, two … a week, and still there was no call.
In the end, Santos could stand it no longer and called them. It turned out that the die had been placed without telling him and, what is more important, everything went smoothly!
Santos was 15 years ahead of his competitors.
The news spread like wildfire among the ceramic industry. A die made from a material that was able to withstand abrasion much more than any other die!!
This led to a growth in sales for the company, followed by recruiting more staff, buying machinery, and of course, continuing to look for solutions where no one but Santos Morte could find them.
In 1990, the company moved to new premises of 550m2 which expanded in 1995 to 1,100m2.
He was working 11 hours a day because, as he acknowledges, he liked working, and the whole family was involved in the company, including his wife, Esperanza, and children who could always run some errands.
Thermo-clay block dies
In 1992, the Spanish Association of Brick and Clay Tile Manufacturers (Hispalyt) bought dies for the manufacture of Thermo-clay blocks in Germany and Italy, as they considered there was no company with the capacity to produce them in Spain.
Santos Morte offered to do the setting up for these dies to check the advantages and disadvantages offered by them. So seeing their deficiencies, he designed a new way to manufacture them and improved their quality.
From that moment, the ceramic industry in Spain did not buy another Thermo-clay block outside Spain.
This meant a huge workload for the company.
Marcos Morte, the eldest son, joined the company in 1991, and one of his first actions was the incorporation of the CAD design system for industrial design. In addition, the first numerical control machines were included and, in 1992, the first wire electrical discharge machine (the second one was acquired in 1993). Machine coming in, machine he had to test to find out its possibilities and getting the maximum performance of it.
This moment meant a great change in the production process, as the dies were produced with much more precision; and the entire production process had to be controlled with the highest quality standards demanded to greatly speed up production times.
The success of this system, Santos recalls, was down to the corporate culture of innovation and commitment to excellence being there before changes in production models. This meant the ground was already prepared for them and they could be easily implemented thereafter.
Without doubt, the commitment to manufacturing Thermal-clay block dies provided a great boost to MORTE. Between 1992 and 2000, many of these dies and a large number of spare parts were manufactured, which required renovation and extension to the facilities, machinery and personnel (in 1990 there were 8 people working at Morte, this had doubled by 1995 and, by 2000, there were 34 people working there).
In 1995, the company name was changed from Santos Morte to Talleres Morte and the plant was expanded to 1100m2.
Raúl Morte, the second son, joined the company in 1996, working side by side with his father and passing through all areas of the company.