When we were planning the #wearecmz campaign, we knew that Roberto would be one of the protagonists. Roberto Zumarraga represents the 2nd generation of the large family company that CMZ is today, a leading manufacturer of digital control lathes. But it wasn’t always that way. Roberto lets us into his home and his memory to tell us that things weren’t always better in the past.
He was a young lad
Today's interviewee remembers, with nostalgia and longing, his first steps in the company. Back then he “was a kid”, and he was also the boss’s son. He soon took on the role of jack of all trades: he worked on the lathe, the shaper, he painted, he assembled... It was the best way to learn and discover the ins and outs of the business that one day would be his. Bit by bit he progressed and acquired more responsibilities, until the day came when he took over the helm.
At over 80 years old, Roberto never ceases to be amazed at how everything has changed since then. Until not that long ago, everything was manual. If a cog broke, it was fixed manually. Now everything is digitalised and automated, which requires more technical and in-depth knowledge and a large capacity for adaptation. In his day, everything was more rudimentary.
Looking for a specialisation
Back then, in Spain, there were 13 manufacturers of shaper machines. Because of that, he states proudly, Roberto decided to start manufacturing lathes. However, the industry was advancing in leaps and bounds and soon the first digital control lathes came onto the market. CMZ had to take the plunge. The daring and hard work took them in this new direction. They then realised that, due to a lack of knowledge, they weren’t getting where they wanted to be. The situation was gradually becoming more difficult.
And then, they got there
All was not lost, far from it. The arrival of Aitor and Iñaki, Roberto’s sons and the current directors of the company, was a watershed moment in CMZ’s history. Their arrival, far from being a handicap, was a great opportunity. They transformed their inexperience into eagerness, and their high level of knowledge into their best weapon for specialising and growing. They put all of their efforts into it. Back then, Roberto thought that the best thing to do was to step down from the scene, leaving them to their own successes and their own mistakes, as he admits himself. Without a doubt, there were more successes than mistakes.
They decided to specialise in manufacturing CNC lathes, focusing solely on that type of machine. At the time it might have seemed like a bit of a kamikaze move. It was the era of turnkey projects and ad-hoc solutions. But, sticking to their original idea, they did not allow themselves to be blinded by trends, they just focused on manufacturing the best CNC lathes. They managed it and, thanks to them, CMZ now has its own subsidiaries in the main European cities and a large portion of the market.
Robert is very certain on that. Knowledge is undoubtedly very important, but in his opinion, there is something even more crucial, which is the people. Having a good team of people, that are technically skilled, passionate and committed, is a guaranteed recipe for success. He believes that this has been the trump card that his sons have played to build up a company that has had a complete turnaround in the last 30 years.
Testimonies like Robert’s help us to realise what it is that has brought us here, to be aware that, sometimes, threats can turn into opportunity, and the only way to learn is by making mistakes. The best is yet to come.