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Taking the Family Business Global

Vanderbilt MBA equipped Josué Gomes da Silva to be international textile leader

Josué Gomes da Silva
Chairman and CEO, Coteminas

Vanderbilt MBA 1989

When Josué Gomes da Silva received his MBA in 1989, the family business — Coteminas, a $50 million textile fabric manufacturer headquartered in Brazil — faced some distinct challenges. Like several South American countries at the time, Brazil was undergoing a major economic shift and was opening its borders to world trade. Meanwhile, the North American textile industry was scaling back, just as China and other Asian countries were infusing their textile enterprises with generous government subsidies in order to clinch shares in the global marketplace. Brazilian textiles were counterpoised between either hurtling into the fray as a formidable international contender or else withering away.

The stakes in such a volatile arena were enormous. Josué, who was in his twenties at the time, was soon making decisions that would affect not only the family business but also a significant slice of South America’s textile industry.

He put his Vanderbilt education to work (along with the dual graduate degrees in civil engineering and law he had earned in Brazil). He took a long-term strategic view to make Coteminas a player on the global stage. And he proved up to the challenge in the two ensuring decades.

A year after Josué returned home with his MBA, he was appointed CFO of Coteminas. Five years later, his father concluded the company was in such good shape that he could step away. In 2003, Josué was named chairman and chief executive officer.

The first step of Josué’s three-phased strategic plan was to increase manufacturing capacity. Under his leadership, Coteminas began taking over smaller, inefficient operations and infusing them with high-technology, streamlined manufacturing operations.

Next, he pursued a strategy of “integrating forward,” purchasing companies that produced the highest quality and best-known brands made in Brazil and Argentina. As a result, Coteminas evolved from a commodity producer into a consumer goods producer.

By 2000, Josué was ready to devote himself to phase three, establishing a presence in the international export market. He developed strategic alliances with suppliers in Asia, and acquired South Carolina-based Springs Global, a worldwide leader in the towels and bedding segment. The company supplies leading retailers with bed and bath ensembles, sheets, towels, rugs, blankets and window treatments marketed under the brand names Wamsutta, Springmaid, Regal and Dundee.

Josué also directed Coteminas in deepening vertical integration to encompass all steps of cotton production and finishing. In 2009, Coteminas started its own retail distribution and today has a complete and integrated supply chain from cotton to the end consumer.

Today, with 15,000 employees and manufacturing operations throughout the Western Hemisphere, Coteminas is the biggest textile group in Latin America and a leading bed and bath home fashion products company.

“Today, Coteminas is the biggest textile group in Latin America.”