“There is no company in the world like ours. We may have competitors in this or that area, but what sets us apart is the enormous diversity of products and technologies. We are a highly specialized, multi-product and multi-market company”, asserts Miguel Pacheco, defining Heliotextil, which began by producing labels for hats and is now supplying the fire retardant transfers for Ferrari’s F1 drivers’ suits.
hen, back in 1964, Alberto, accountant and Miguel’s father, started the company in São João da Madeira, it was very easy to define its mission: labels and passementerie. Nowadays, defining their activity is no longer that easy, because in order to survive and prosper in a world evolving at a staggering rate, Heliotextil had to buckle up and bet on a combination of electronics and textiles, enriching their catalogue with innovative products aimed at a sophisticated clientele.
“Our number one focus is to respond to customers’ needs, whatever they might be. Our concern is to figure out how we will be able to help them overcome their difficulties”, sums up Miguel, who chose to eat the stewed bones (“To find a dish like this on a menu is a rarity”).
Their market, initially confined to the headgear industry, eventually broadened to packaging ribbons, underwear elastic bands, embroidered labels, names and numbers used to customize football jerseys – and grew to the size of the world.
The company’s constant climb in the value chain started right next door, in Feira’s Medieval Journey, with the encapsulation of a payment making technology in the access wristbands. That technology goes by the name of BarceIn and has been constantly improved upon: it is now used in all major Portuguese summer festivals (Super Bock Super Rock, Nos Alive, Primavera Sound, Vodafone Paredes de Coura) and is on the fast track for export.
Colfit, a jacket developed in cooperation with Damel and intended for use in refrigerating chambers (it features a heating band, controlled by a smartphone app, with sensors that constantly measure and regulate the temperature inside the jacket), was yet another stage in this voyage, which received high appraisal and is now ready for the market.
The effort of making smart objects required smart investments in new equipment, laboratory and an R&D department. Results, however, did not come straight away.
“In 2018 we had a turnover of five million euro, representing a 10% increase compared to the previous year, which is not much regarding the full potential of the products we’ve been developing in the last three years. Everything is still new and these things take their time”, clarifies Heliotextil’s CEO.
Miguel Pacheco knows he has no reasons for concern since all the signs show that the path he chose was the right one all along. The ISPO and Inovatêxtil awards gathered by the company are an example, in addition to the two newly developed processes, the coversealings (which reduces drastically the waste of adhesive pockets) and the eprint (which replaces the traditional transfers for printed electronics), on the verge of being patented.
Graduated in Economy at Porto’s Faculdade de Economia da Universidade do Porto (FEP) in 1993, he was a financial analyst at BANIF, for a year, before answering the industry’s call and going to work at the company his father founded, (started with nine workers and today they’re 110) six years before he was born. To climb the value chain, introducing algorithms and sensors in a traditional business, was the successful blueprint of Miguel’s leadership, who still sees himself as a commercial rep (“I will always be the sales manager, taking his briefcase and visiting customers”). In the meantime, the family’s third generation has landed at Heliotextil. Miguel’s son Miguel, 25, a Marketing graduate, is already helping out…
Starters Octopus with green sauce, melon, rissoles, croquettes and codfish cakes Entrées Stewed pork bones with vegetables and codfish ‘Gomes de Sá’ Drinks water and white wine (Pormenor, Douro DOC) and two coffees