Embraer: Building a Globally Competitive Company
As President and CEO, Botelho has piloted Embraer to its current position as the fourth largest aircraft manufacturer in the world and one of Brazil's largest export companies, with an important market share in the 30- to 110-seat aircraft segment. Embraer's participation in the bilateral trade agenda between the United States and Brazil has been particularly significant: the United States produces 73% of Embraer's aircraft components but is also the primary importer of Embraer planes. In 2003, Embraer had a net revenue of over 2 billion US dollars, 95% of which was from exports. Currently, Embraer provides civil and defense aircraft to 58 countries on five continents.
Embraer's strategy is grounded in the use of top-of-the-line components and well-trained workforce. Of its 13,000 personnel, 63% are high school graduates, 35% have bachelor's degrees, and 2% hold graduate degrees; all told 25% are engineers. This distribution of education is unique in Brazilian industry as many companies rely on less-skilled and less- educated personnel. The development of this highly qualified workforce is facilitated by the Aeronautics Technology Center of the Brazilian Air Force, which has long been a center of excellence for undergraduate and graduate aeronautical engineers. Underscoring the importance these individuals hold for the company, Botelho noted that Embraer has invested over US $ 85 million in training and development over the last five years. Embraer has five industrial facilities in Brazil, two in the United States (Fort Lauderdale and Nashville), and six in other countries (France, Singapore, China, and Australia).
Botelho explained that Embraer's success has derived from its capacity to identify market niches and design aircraft that optimize operational costs, range and seat availability. As a testament to the solid and sustained growth of the company, although Embraer sold only 4 commercial airplanes in 1996, it posted an order backlog of over 28 billion in 2003 and will deliver 160 commercial jets in 2004 and 170 in 2005. The contraction of the aircraft market in the aftermath of September 11 was a critical point for the company. After suffering an initial reduction in the demand for its aircraft, Embraer discovered a niche developing around the streamlined, mid-size aircraft it was already prepared to offer. Botelho foresees a demand of 8,450 30- to 120-seat jets from now until 2023, and believes Embraer is well positioned to fulfill most of that demand.