Salvador Arena

Salvador Arena

Born in Tripoli, Libya

Nationality: Italian

Son of Nicola Arena and Giuditta Patessio Arena

Born on January 12, 1915

Died on January 28, 1998

Salvador Arena arrived in Brazil in 1920 as a boy of 5. The family settled in São Paulo and his father Nicola set up a mechanical workshop where he started processing metal scrap. As a result, Salvador spent his childhood surrounded by spare parts and machinery.

Arena graduated at the age of 21 in civil engineering from the University of São Paulo (USP) Polytechnic School, and his first formal job was with Light, where he worked on the implementation of the Cubatão hydroelectric scheme, on a model planned by Billings. At that time all the machinery was imported. When a part broke, the only solution was to make a new one. For a long time, Salvador Arena was the one who designed the parts, prepared a detailed project and had them cast. The result was often better than the original.

In 1942, armed with his genius and with just 200 dollars in his pocket (his severance pay from Light), he founded Termomecanica. At the start the company made bread ovens and baking equipment. Later on it started manufacturing tempering furnaces, ventilators, rods, smelting furnaces, presses etc.

In the mid-1950s a new plant started to be built in the Rudge Ramos district of the city of São Bernardo do Campo, producing a variety of non-ferrous metals. This was an extremely promising time, with the country in transition from an agricultural to an industrial economy.

At the end of the World War II, Arena took advantage of the renewal of the US industrial park and bought second-hand machinery and equipment, such as furnaces, cutters, turners and his first extruder, multiplying his production capacity at minimum cost, since he modified and improved all the equipment.

Innovative Management

An audacious entrepreneur, he created his own new management model, which was advanced for the 1960s and which prized, above all, his “valuable human capital”. He knew his employees’ first and last names, and their families, and provided benefits for them such as food baskets of up to 60 kg and medical and dental care.

He created a distinctive salary policy, which was the trademark of Termomecanica. It all started in 1948, when after a successful production effort to meet a major customer’s order, Salvador Arena spontaneously awarded a prize for productivity, for the first time. There was no legislation covering profit sharing or compensation for productivity, but the practice became routine in the plant and, whenever there was a special job, a prize was given. Even before the 13th month salary was introduced, Salvador Arena used to pay an additional salary at the end of the year. In time, depending on annual performance which he himself calculated, Salvador Arena would distribute a share of the profits, which came to 14, 15 and, at times, 17 or 18 salaries a year. In one year, exceptionally, 25 salaries were paid.

Salvador Arena wanted to protect his staff from the high market interest rates, and he created a Credit Cooperative, with subsidized rates, as an option for personal financing. Knowing that many of the staff went out at lunchtime to have a quick drink at a nearby bar, he had big bottles of cane liquor made available in the company canteen. The result: there were fewer cases of alcoholism, and production went up, contrary to the predictions of many of his business colleagues.

Before he died, in 1998, Salvador Arena had placed Termomecanica in a leading position in the Brazilian industrial sector, and it was classified among the largest private industrial companies in the country, a leader in the sector for transformation of non-ferrous metals into finished and semi-processed products, and highly capitalized, with shareholders’ equity valued at more than 800 million dollars.

The Social Entrepreneur

Salvador Arena’s greatest dream was always to create a model school. He wanted this so much that, at the beginning of the 1960s, he set up a college inside his factory. He bought 150 chairs and desks, which were installed in a pavilion that was part of the factory. He hired Portuguese, Mathematics and Science Teachers. The staff finished work at 5 p.m. and went to classes. Some years later, the school was to be transferred out of the factory, and it began to serve the community of São Bernardo do Campo and neighboring cities, as Termomecanica School.

His successful company and prosperous business were not the only focus of Salvador Arena’s life. He had a critical nature, and he found time for humanitarian actions, contributing generously to charitable organizations and investing in social projects that he himself thought up.

Salvador Arena Foundation

He saw that time was short for so many plans. He therefore set up the Salvador Arena Foundation in 1964, as a sort of social arm to concentrate on helping vulnerable people.

In his will, which was stated in 1991, he appointed the Foundation as sole heir to his fortune. He left specific instructions in the Foundation’s statutes that it should "make all possible efforts to provide education, social assistance and protection for those in need, without distinction of nationality, race, sex, color, religion or political opinions in general". In this way Salvador Arena provided an institutional format for carrying out the charitable activities which he supported as an individual. His key achievements and legacy lie in the fields of education, healthcare, social assistance and affordable housing.

We miss him

Salvador Arena died in the fullness of his 83 years, surrounded by what he most loved: his school, his staff, his machines, his factory, his community.

A man of personal convictions based on social theories, energetic, austere, paternalistic, a visionary, stubborn, controversial, his motivation was his belief in people and their potential, his dedication and his love of his work. Throughout his life he was never short of the daring, talent and hard work needed to put his ideas into practice. And it is thus that he will always be remembered by all those who were privileged to know him. When an old friend invited him to join him on an overseas trip, Arena replied in his typical Italian way, gesticulating and pointing to his factories: "I AM HAPPY HERE. WHY SHOULD I LEAVE? THIS IS MY WORLD."

Titles and Awards

1936 - UNIVERSITY OF SÃO PAULO POLYTECHNIC SCHOOL
  Undergraduate Degree in Civil Engineering - São Paulo - SP
December 18, 1936
1960 - SOCIETY OF AUTOMOTIVE ENGINEERS INC.
  Emeritus Member - New York - USA
June 13, 1960
AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR TESTING MATERIALS
  Emeritus Member - New York - USA
January 1960
1962 – STUDENTS’ FRIENDS ASSOCIATION OF THE STATE OF SÃO PAULO
  Casa do Estudante Harmonia - Partner and Benefactor - São Bernardo do Campo - SP
October 23, 1962
1963 - CASA DO ESTUDANTE HARMONIA
Diploma of Honor - São Bernardo do Campo - SP
September 22, 1963
1964 – ABC TRADE AND INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION
  Diploma for Termomecanica as Partner and Contributor - São Bernardo do Campo - SP
December 2, 1964
1971 – MUNICIPAL COUNCIL OF SÃO BERNARDO DO CAMPO
  Honorary Citizenship - São Bernardo do Campo - SP
May 27, 1971
MINISTRY OF AVIATION
  Santos Dumont Medal - Brasília - DF
July 2, 1971
1972 - MUNICIPAL COUNCIL OF DIADEMA
  Honorary Citizen - Diadema - SP
December 18, 1972
1974 – MUNICIPAL COUNCIL OF SÃO BERNARDO DO CAMPO
  Civic Merit medal for highly important services rendered to the community of São Bernardo do Campo - SP
July 1974
1975 – ABC ENGINEERS AND ARCHITECTS ASSOCIATION
  Title of ABC Engineer Emeritus - São Bernardo do Campo - SP
December 10, 1975
1977 - MINISTRY OF AVIATION
  Order of Merit - Aviation - Diploma of Admission into the Body of Special Graduates with the Rank of Officer - Brasília - DF
September 6, 1977
1984 - MINISTRY OF AVIATION
  Order of Merit - Aviation - Diploma of Promotion to the Grade of Comendador - Brasília - DF
September 20, 1984
1988 – BRAZILIAN ARMY
  Army Business Collaborator Diploma - Rio de Janeiro - RJ
July 19, 1988
STUDENTS’ FRIENDS ASSOCIATION OF THE STATE OF SÃO PAULO
  Casa do Estudante Harmonia - Diploma of Gratitude for Incentive to Education - São Bernardo do Campo - SP
October 23, 1988
1989 – GRAND LODGE OF THE STATE OF SÃO PAULO
  Freemasons’ Medal of Merit - São Paulo - SP
February 1, 1989
1994 – ARMY MINISTRY
  Title: Friend of the Brazilian Army Research and Development Institute - RJ
August 6, 1994
1997 - MINISTRY OF AVIATION
  Diploma as Honorary Member of the Brazilian Air Force (FAB) - São Paulo - SP
May 22, 1997
REGIONAL COUNCIL OF ENGINEERING, ARCHITECTURE AND AGRONOMY OF THE STATE OF SÃO PAULO
  Prize “ABC Master of Engineering” - São Bernardo do Campo - SP
October 14, 1997
1998 - ANTÔNIO PRUDENTE FOUNDATION
  Diploma of Honor - São Paulo - SP
April 13, 1998
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