Internationalization, AI and sustainability, cornerstones of Gurpea's growth
The founders of Gurpea met when they worked in a factory in Urroz-Villa. Shortly after, they were encouraged to create a company that, after starting out in the field of maintenance, already employs 240 people, has expanded its business lines and is preparing to open a branch in Mexico and a commercial office in Peru.
Antxon Errea and Abel Moreno "are not much to tell," the former acknowledges. "Pedro is the one who gets us into these things," says Errea. By “these things” he means interviews, of course. This is what we have come to do when we enter Gurpea after, indeed, we have told Pedro Odériz -the firm's manager- our desire to get to know its two founders a little better. To overcome that initial barrier of shyness -or perhaps modesty-, we chose the easy path. Therefore, we start from the beginning.
This is the story of two young people who, after obtaining their Vocational Training degree (Electricity, in the case of Moreno, and Automation, in the case of Errea) hit it off while working as maintenance technicians in a factory in Urroz. -Town. “We understood each other very well. Do you remember that panel we set up to practice?” recalls Moreno, looking at his partner. They spent two years in that plant until they decided to become autonomous. They then ended up at the ZF TRW plant in Landaben, although at the end of their day they worked overtime at other companies. There came a time when the workload they were supporting forced them to hire staff on their own. "We didn't get to all the work we had," recalls Errea.
Perhaps that was an indication of everything that would come later. In 2004, Moreno and Errea formed Gurpea. They were just 26 and 23 years old, respectively. And as is usual in the case of young entrepreneurs, at first they did not have their own workspace. That changed when they installed a work booth in Mutilva, to which they later placed another on top. From there they moved to a warehouse in Ipertegui. Then they set up another factory on the same Orkoien industrial estate. "Three years ago we bought another warehouse with the idea of removing the other two, but the space was too small for us," says Moreno. This is how they arrived at Barbatáin, where they currently have two factories and facilities that total around 3,900 square meters.
This growth in area has gone hand in hand with the diversification of the business within Gurpea. What was born as a company to offer maintenance services now ranges from industrial maintenance and machinery assembly to automation engineering projects, electrical installations and design, manufacture and placement of metal structures. We sensed that those twenty-somethings who worked like little ants to carry out this initiative did not know what was coming their way. Or, put another way, they didn't expect to get that far. "No, that was not the objective," Abel acknowledges. “Let's see -his partner adds-, realize that we set up the company without knowledge. Lack of knowledge is what makes you set up something, go and try it. We didn't even have any type of business as a family… It's trial and error. It has always been like this. And it still is."
In view of this exercise, on the other hand, its partners hope to open a branch in Querétaro (Mexico). "We already have a salesperson who frequently travels to the country - details Errea - but we plan to have a production center there." What pushed you to opt for Mexico? “Its industrial growth and its proximity to the United States. They have been growing at double digits for almost a decade. Also -he continues- because we have cultural affinity. On an industrial level, in addition, many companies from Navarra have a presence in Mexico, so working with them will be much easier for us. We already have numbers of providers there.” This milestone will be accompanied by the opening of an office in Peru, "especially focused on commercial actions."
Abel Moreno: “Medicinal oxygen is a new line that we want to launch with force. And now we need the government to support us."
At its Barbatáin facilities, on the other hand, Gurpea plans to incorporate an Artificial Intelligence department within the company and enter the green hydrogen sector. Specifically, it will start manufacturing components used to build hydrogen plants. The company's main commitment in 2023, however, will focus on the development of hospital medical oxygen solutions and the manufacture of nitrogen plants used for aquaculture (fish farming) and wastewater treatment, as advanced Navarre Capital.
"It is a new line that we want to launch with force," Moreno remarks. And now we need the Government of Navarra to help us and bet on this technology in hospitals, because at this time there is no such infrastructure in the region. We like the land and we want technology from Navarra, developed by a Navarre company, to be applied here. We go to other autonomous communities because at home they are not supporting us”.
What he exposes is illustrated by his colleague with an example. “Last week, some Mexican clients came. I went down to Madrid to pick them up, then I took them to Albacete so they could see a medicinal oxygen plant and then we went up to Pamplona. They saw it, they were amazed and they are going to order a plant from us. On Monday I have a meeting in León, where they want us to help them build hydrogen plants. And surely we will reach an agreement”, explains Errea. He says it with the optimism of someone who believes in his work. We left Gurpea wishing Abel Moreno and Antxon Errea good luck in their new projects. Although, deep down, we believe that they do not need it.
Photo: Errea (left) and Moreno (right) finalize the opening of the Gurpea branch in Mexico. (Photos: Maite H. Mateo - Navarra Capital)
Source: Navarre Capital.