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MAI: Serving the Tea Market with High Quality Products
By Rosanna Mazzei

Successful businesses are most often the products of a single seed born in the minds of creative individuals. However, many other factors must be met to transform that idea into a powerful industry business. Firstly, it takes the skill to develop a quality product that will stand its ground in the uncharted seas of a market. Secondly, a reservoir of dedication and perseverance must support its growth. Finally, the concept must be framed flexibly in a vision of expansion in order to achieve lasting success.

The company Mai S.A. has all these points as foundation for its tea and herb beverage packing machinery business. It was started in 1976 by Pablo Enrique Mai - an operation technician who worked on some of the very first models for teabagging machines. With his company’s research, Mai pioneered the many mechanical designs for industrial equipment manufacturing, laying down the groundwork for an industry with then little movement but which held much promise. From the very beginning, Mai S.A. has won partnerships with clients all over the world, primarily due to word of mouth praise on the skill and durability of its machines.

It was in the year 1987, after the unfortunate passing of his father, that son Guillermo Mai, Jr. ended up taking the reigns - he was merely 18 years of age. A tough challenge for any person, never mind someone so young. It was to Guillermo’s advantage that he had walked side by side with his father in the plant as a teenager eagerly acquiring the business sense he would eventually apply to his position as head of the company. During two years of intensive training and complete immersion in his work, Guillermo Mai, Jr. analyzed the state of the packaging machinery industry and devised a business strategy that would best serve the needs of his targeted sector.

“The transition was challenging, but my father had already built such a solid company that continuing its expansion was a natural step. At that time, the tea trade wasn’t as expansive as it is today. Luckily, since those days, the market has changed and grown and we’ve have been able to expand with it. We’ve doubled in size from our early days and have entered into new markets, mainly East Europe, Russia, China and the U.S.”

Although Mai S.A. is well known for its single chamber teabag makers, its strengths lie in several places. The company has two core business focuses. One division offers a line of expertly engineered teabag packing machines. Mai S.A. has a few different lines with several models to suit the various styles of tea-packaging. The well-known EC12 line, with its several models, is supported by a sophisticated productivity, which boast sales of about 90 machines per year.

To complement the work of this division, the other half of the company’s energies are focused on providing printing services. This includes the lasering of logo and information onto the teabag tags and overwrap cartons by the latest state-of-the-art equipment. In addition, they have invested in keeping a stocked inventory of raw materials to supply the various phases of operation, whereby guaranteeing consistency. These added-value services allow Mai S.A. to stand out amongst its competitors.

When asked about the secret of his continued success, Mai responded, “We’ve always kept a close eye on the technology behind the machines being developed. This has allowed us to optimize the power of our product, ensuring that our clients get the most out of their use.” In fact, a few of the original models developed by Pablo Mai are still being used to this day.

However, a company cannot thrive on the sheer prestige of its designs; it must have a team of executives who cultivate relationships and who value the delicate role trust plays in business partnerships. “We understand how important it is to be honest and sincere in this business,” shares Guadalupe Mai, Guillermo Mai’s mother. “This is, of course, important in all types of businesses, but it is especially true in our business because there is a heavy monetary investment involved. In this case, making the right decision becomes more critical because it has to worth the returns. We at Mai S.A. know this and offer not only our expertise, but our full support.” Even before her son’s takeover, Mrs. Mai has been a strong force in the development of the company and continues to play an active role in its administration.

Mai S.A. is located in Argentina, with offices in Mar del Plata and Buenos Aires. Upon a surprise visit to their plant, I was afforded a glimpse of what the operation of an equipment manufacturer should look like: a warehouse divided systematically with tightly organized shelving and storage, workers with knowledge of all phases of the production line and not just their own jobs, and a building with newly painted walls, spotless floors and a modern and inviting exterior design. This impeccable attention to detail reflected the policy of Mai S.A.: a company backed with the firm commitment to providing the highest quality product through meticulously catered client service.

“It is tempting to purchase new machines with seemingly identical technology at lower prices (copies),” comments Guillermo Mai. “However, in the end there is a difference. What ends up being acquired is a less than superior product with a questionable life span that threatens the success of a company. It is true that you get what you pay for. Our clients hold the value of a lasting quality product in high regard. We can customize machines according to a client’s wishes and have service support technicians readily available. This is why our customers continue to purchase from us and why we still have almost every customer we had when Mai S.A. was established. This, along with our quick response and proven dedication to their company’s needs.”

In line with this policy, Mai S.A. values the relationships it cultivates abroad and continually invests in reaching out to its client base. Last year the company attended five conferences: Natural Products EXPO WEST in Anaheim, California, EASTPACK 2000 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Pack Expo 2000 in Chicago, Illinois, all in the U.S., as well as FISPAL 2000 in São Paulo, Brazil and PACK CHINA in Shanghai. Among the exhibitions Mai S.A. will be attending in the coming year is the 2001 Tea & Coffee World Cup in Amsterdam in June. Today, the company boasts the certification and implementation of approximately 2000 units in 78 countries. In the year 2001, Mai S.A. is celebrating 25 years of business. With its continued investment in modern technology and its focus on high standards, these figures are quickly increasing.

Tea & Coffee - March/April 2001


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