Donald Trump hasn’t been sworn in as president yet, but he is already making headlines in Brazil for canceling new talks about business projects in Brazil. Brazil is not the only country Trump is turning his back on. India and Argentina talks have also been canceled. Trump was supposed to build five office buildings in Rio, but the project hit a wall for a number of reasons. Trump’s promise to take a harder look at trade deals is also making Brazilian business executives nervous. But one of those executives, Flavio Maluf, the CEO of building material supplier, Eucatex isn’t worried about a Trump presidency. Eucatex is a leader in Brazil’s export market, and Trump is very familiar with the company, and Flavio Maluf’s incredible story.
In 1951, the sawmill was doing more business than anyone expected. There was a surplus of eucalyptus wood laying around the mill. A new product called wood ceiling tiles was born from the excess eucalyptus wood. The demand for the tiles was overwhelming, so Eucatex was formed to meet the demand. Eucatex made wood ceiling tiles for the local market, but comments about the tiles spread around South America. By the late 1950s, Eucatex was exporting ceiling tiles to other Latin American countries and to Europe.
Flavio Maluf joined the company in 1987 after spending time in the United States. Flavio attended New York University. He studied several American business models while he was living in New York. Flavio was named president of Eucatex in 1997. Maluf has turned Eucatex into one of the world’s premier suppliers of building materials. Eucatex brands are in home improvement stores in the United States and Europe. Eucatex factories still make ceiling tiles, but Flavio expanded the product line over the last 20 years. Today, Eucatex produces floorboards, doors, MDF panels, paint, and other building materials in four Brazilian factories. Maluf environmentally friendly business model has been an example for other Brazilian companies. Flavio is often asked to speak about his company’s clean air initiatives.