It’s 11 p.m. on a Sunday evening, and Luis Voces is celebrating his birthday. Suddenly the phone rings. Is it someone calling to wish him a happy birthday? No, it’s a customer. In an agitated tone, the caller explains that he wants to open an important store the very next day, but they don’t have the big name sign to go above the door. They are at their wit’s end, because the sign needs to be in Madrid by 10 a.m. tomorrow. Luis immediately sets up a spontaneous night shift. He makes the sign himself and gets on the first plane the next morning to take it to the flagship store. Some people glibly say that “nothing’s impossible”, but that’s a code that Hydracorte and its founder Luis Voces actually live by – and it’s clear from the moment you meet him.
We’re treated to a warm welcome when we arrive in A Coruña in northwestern Spain. Luis immediately calls us by our first names and tells us how excited he is to show us around his company. He clearly wishes he could introduce us to every member of staff personally!
Hydracorte is part of the Caamaño Group, a global network of companies that specializes in building, renovating and fitting out all kinds of retail outlets. The other companies in the Group are actually Luis’s biggest customers. As a supplier of metal parts, Hydracorte lies at the start of the production chain. They make just about everything you can think of in A Coruña, from small, fragile parts to fully fledged modules. Their products include signs, furnishings, paneling, facades and plenty more. Luis Voces founded Hydracorte together with business partners. One of them, Emilio Mahía, died recently. “Emilio was the heart of our company and the one who inspired our philosophy. We miss him dearly, but his memory lives on,” says Voces.
If Hydracorte fails to deliver perfect quality within strict deadlines, then the whole thing collapses like a house of cards. It’s certainly a challenging role to play!
To get everything done in the allotted time, the company operates its factory in multiple shifts. The company’s technical design office is open five days a week from 6:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., and the machines work around the clock. One of the things that drives Hydracorte to ever greater heights is the ever more demanding nature of the Caamaño Group’s, and indeed the end customers’, requirements. Luis believes that one of the keys to success is keeping up with the latest technological developments. Last year alone, the 49-year-old company founder purchased seven new machines from TRUMPF. But that’s not the whole story. His employees are his top priority, and he nurtures their professional development with training courses on machine operation and other topics. Their skills are what he relies on. And they share his ambition and work in line with his motto that “We never say no to anything – at least not until we’ve tried it out first!”
Hydracorte was the first company in the city of A Coruña to take the plunge into laser technology. Some companies in Madrid, Barcelona and the Basque Country had already made the leap, but in the north of Spain – and particularly in Galicia – Luis was very much a pioneer. Today, however, there are 30 other laser-cutting companies in the vicinity. Competition has intensified, which is one reason why this ambitious businessman is always seeking new ways to stand out from the crowd.
One example of how he does that is the TruLaser Robot 5020 laser welding system, which produces very fine and visually appealing seams. This is a key criterion, especially in the furnishings industry with its high share of visible parts. Machine operator Sandra Panedas is very much aware of the benefits this system offers, and Luis praises her skill in using it. As we peer over her shoulder, he continues to pay tribute to her expertise, as indeed he does with virtually all his employees.
He knows from personal experience what it means to get these machines working at their very best day after day. Luis himself did a two-week training session at TRUMPF just one year after co-founding the company in 2001. He decided to learn not just one technology, but three at the same time. “They trained me in punching and tube cutting as well as flatbed laser programming and operation. Everyone told me it was impossible in just two weeks. But I wanted to get started as quickly as I could.”
Nowadays, Luis doesn’t know how to operate the new machines. “But of course I don’t have to, because the people who work for me are much better than I am! I trust them 100 percent and give them the space they need to do their job. It’s our team that makes the difference. The way they transcend boundaries, try out new things, and constantly push the envelope – that’s what sets them apart.” It’s clear that this isn’t merely a corporate line – Luis very much means what he says.
A father of two children, Luis is proud of what he’s built. You can feel his ambition perpetuating the success of this company in the form of cutting-edge machinery, top-quality products and highly qualified employees.
But it’s not just about being the best. The main thing for Luis is that his customers are satisfied – because only then can he be satisfied, too.