Wednesday, January 4th
We got to sleep in this morning and our group met at about 11 o’clock to go to our business visits. We stopped at a gas station to grab a quick lunch and then continued on to Ball Aerosol.
Ball Corporation is headquartered in Denver, Colorado and has been in business for over 130 years. This specific branch manufacturers and sells aerosol cans. Overall, the company produces high quality packaging for food, aerosol cans, etc. From a business perspective, understanding the needs of the customers is key to success. At this time, Ball Corp. is the largest can producer in the world. These cans are also recyclable because Ball Corp. focuses on sustainability. They have learned that you create long term shareholder value when you act sustainably.
The company motto is “behave like an owner” and they have a triple bottom line approach, which includes economic, environmental, and social efforts. They have received sustainability awards and they focus heavily on forming a team and then designing a plan to execute it. Within the last 6 years, Ball Corp. has improved the plant 80% in every area.
Ball Corp.’s sales manager, Angel Rasgido, then spoke with us about some of the statistics. There are 217 million aerosol cans produced each year in Argentina and a total of 15 countries produce 92% of the aerosol cans worldwide. Their main 3 areas are cosmetics, insect sprays, and domisanitarios.
The Argentina plant mostly uses aluminum and they export 50% of it to other countries. Argentina is a leader because they can produce aluminum and tin plate for a low cost. They have excellence in quality and understand hygienic habits and advantages to aerosol. At this point, Ball Corp. has 60% of the market share. They believe one of the main components to their success is their excellent customer service. They have many big clients across the world, including SC Johnson.
Doug Parker, the President, then spoke with us about the founding of Ball Corp. Ball Corp. was founded in the Midwest of the U.S. by the Ball brothers. They have transformed the company and now produce metal packaging for beverages, steel, food and aerosol containers, plastic beverage containers, and have even worked in aerospace designs. Ball Corp. was the sole contractor to set on The Hubble spacecraft and telescope. During the 90’s, Ball Corp. went to China and learned a valuable lesson about business. They built huge plants there but they didn’t take off in the emerging market. They learned to take their time and get to know the culture and the customer’s true needs before jumping in to an emerging market. You need intellectual, psychological and social capital. Lots of people think they can work internationally but many don’t know what’s in store.
Ball Corp. went from a family owned company to a multinational company. Their success hasn’t been easy but they have learned many valuable lessons along the way.
The Ball manufacturing plant visit was interesting because we got to see the sheet metal get cut up and then formed through the various machines to the end product. They have a lot of quality control systems set up along the way to avoid mistakes. I thought it was interesting that the company started in the Midwest and now it has become a global company. I felt like a learned a lot about how the cans are made and the attention to detail the company requires. They are in a lot of industries but I am curious where they’ll go in the future as more and more sustainability issues come up.
Inside the Ball Corp. manufacturing plant
After visiting Ball Corp., we went to visit Club Atletico where the Boca Juniors play. This is the famous soccer team of Argentina. Our speaker didn’t speak English so Natalie and Gus translated. We learned that the club has no one owner—it is owned by members of the club. The futbol team has transformed over the past few years because it used to cost more money than they took in. They implemented a new plan where they decided to only spend what you’re bringing in so you don’t have pressure to sell players to cover the debt.
The main objectives of the futbol team are:
1) Position the brand in market leadership
2) Increase brand value
In order to position the brand, they opened up futbol schools to prepare the kids emotionally and physically to potentially become soccer players. There is no futbol school for women but they do have a really successful women’s division in Argentina. Everyone who attends the school doesn’t have to become a player but many want to become a professional soccer player. They train the kids starting at age 6 and even offer them a 6 month sports marketing course so they can understand what they are about to get into. No other university in Argentina offers this course. Only a few end up becoming professional players. The implementation of the schools brings the major clubs together in alliance.
The futbol club is also opening up to new markets by advertising at airports, stores at the beach, etc. They have even changed around the words of popular songs so they can sing them during the futbol games. They want to create passionate fans, not fair weather fans. You are raised loving the team because of the experience. They also have decorations all throughout the stadium to make fans passionate and learn the history of the team.
La Boca has also taken a social responsibility position with Unicef (which usually involves helping children). They hold various events and work with them to use the popularity of their name with a good cause. They have also been able to change around their financial position by renting out the stadium for other events, such as concerts. They make sure that the stadium is being used more since there are only matches every few weeks. Their main objective is to increase revenues without having to sell players. They do this through various sponsorship programs, advertising within the stadium, and licensing products. They have big sponsorships, such as Coca Cola, and smaller sponsorships such as for flu shots. They have been successful and other club teams in Argentina have adopted their business model.
La Boca’s new business is through credit cards. When you spend more, you get rewards that you can’t buy, such as playing a futbol match with the top players. They are also starting a TV show to show behind the scenes events (such as the locker room) with the team. They are improving halftime shows because time is money and they want to make sure to keep the fans entertained.
La Boca is also looking at nontraditional advertising methods. Their main marketing strategy right now is all about the experience. They want you to come back for more! I thought it was really interesting because even when you traveled outside the main city, there is still a ton of publicity surrounding them.
We returned to the hotel after our second visit. Alison and I met up with a group and walked a few blocks to an open market. Street vendors filled the sidewalks for a handful of blocks selling everything from jewelry to clothes to children’s toys. At the end of the day, they pick up their items and go home.
I found a hand-made leather bag that was stitched together and engraved. It was 100 pesos (about $23) but it is beautiful and something you wouldn’t find in the U.S. I also bought some stone jewelry which was made by hand. We sat and watched them make the jewelry and once again their attention to detail was amazing. It takes them about 3 hours to make one piece.
The open street markets. It is amazing what they can do!
I whipped out my excellent bartering skills (sarcastic much?). It was interesting to see how much the price could change in such a short period of time. I love open markets. Our group dropped the stuff off at the hotel and then we headed to the famous steakhouse called La Cabana las Lilas. It was amazing. We had so many appetizers and then our steaks were phenomenal. It was great to sit back and chat with everyone. It was a little hard to pay the bill since each of us were paying separately but it worked out in the end. Then we called it a night!