Our visit to the Faplana's office/factory, was received by a warm welcome by Ms. Paula Custódio, the commercial director, and she is a granddaughter of the founder and daughter of the one of the directors of the company.
She showed us all the products which are currently in the product line, and also an old catalogue from the time when the Faplana had a big production of plastic toys. They look fantastic and some looked very familiar to me. It's a pity that they don't make them any more...
Ms. Paula Custódio says it's been an honour to be a part of the company which was carefully handed down to generations and she has a great passion and a dedication towards her work.
I was very happy to meet her and hear directly from her about their stories.
"Faplana" stands for "Fábrica de Plasticos de Leiria, Lda", (Plastic manufacturer in Leiria).
Leiria is a town around 150km north from Lisbon and several plastic manufacturers were situated in the town in 50's - 60's. However, most of them have closed down and Faplana is one of very few companies which still makes high quality plastic products.
The bright colours and the timeless designs of their melamine dining & kitchen ware's have made the Faplana's iconic plastic products. Their high quality has never been compromised and kept the company going as one of the globally recognized plastic manufacturer in Portugal.
FEP -Can you tell us the history of the company? Paula -The company was founded on the 30th April in 1955 with a name “Fabal” - Factory of Bakelite Leiria- and it began to design and produce their first articles in bakelite, urea and melamine through the manufacturing process of compression molding.
The Fabal was one of the five existing companies at this time that was devoted to the manufacture of this type of products in Leiria. On the 30th November in 1966, the corporate name was changed to “Faplana” - Plastic Manufacturing Plant of Leiria, Lda. Next decade saw the development of a full range of products manufactured in compression molding, injection and extrusion/breath. At this stage it set a new trading strategy which was passed by creation of new brands (Fapla, Fabex and Faplex) and the first General Catalog of Faplana was published in January 1969.
The Faplana continued to invest in the development of products in diverse areas such as domestic utilities, industrial articles and toys. In the early 1980s, Faplana's melamine products took the first steps in the export with French market as its main customer.
In 1989, with a new management and the reorganization succeeded in covering seven key areas such as improving the quality, design, equipment and facilities, increase productivity and penetration into new markets accompanied by a commercial policy that is more aggressive and planned.
In 1992 the Faplana was distinguished with the Premium Design for Industry by the Portuguese Design Centre. In December 2003 the Faplana obtained the Certification of the Quality Management System by NP:EN ISO 9001:2000 by SGS.
Attentive to the new requirements of environmental policies, the Faplana bet in the creation of new products in the segment of ecology. A farming continues to be a segment of great importance, in constant improvement and innovation.
While maintaining their connection to the past, the Faplana continues to invest in its line of products in Melamine. The full set of spoons are must-have tools in all kitchens of both industrial and domestic.
The timelessness is the design of our melaminas from the 50’s & 60’s and they continue to be appreciated by a great population from all over the world.
-Can you tell us about you? -I am a granddaughter of the founder of the company and my father is one of the Directors of the Company. In 1989 the company was acquired by four members and only one, my father, transitioned it from previous society. In 1997 when I finished a course in management, I accepted the challenge to come and work for the Faplana at the financial department of which today I am still responsible. Over the past five years I have come to play a more active role in the commercial area, becoming the commercial director of Faplana. In addition to the monitoring of the national market with the support of the sales team covering the entire national territory, I am also responsible for external market. As you can see I have been in Faplana for almost two decades and I hope to continue to develop my work with a great dedication and a passion for many more years to come.
-What do you enjoy the most in working at Faplana? -The commercial area.
-What is the unique character of the products? -The Design, the quality, and use of social and environmental policies which differ from the mass-produced production.
Our concern is not restricted to only satisfy the customer but promote a positive environment within our company, the satisfaction of our employees is very important to us.
-Where does the raw materials come from? Usually they are purchased from domestic suppliers or with european delegation in Portugal that imports from various countries. All our raw materials are certified in their quality / characteristics which are measured before and after its acquisition
-Do you use any traditional production method? -The melaminas are manufactured by compression, a process which has been used since the beginning of the plastics industry in 50's in our region.
-What is the inspiration for the product designs? -The inspiration for the product design is found by our adminitsrador who normally collaborates with some product designers who helped us to develop innovative products with attractive design which essentially adds value to what is already in the market.
-What do you think of the Portuguese people in relation to the use of plastic products in general? -The use of plastic is part of everyday life for all of us, we cannot live without it.
-What is your most popular product? -Several. We are internationally known by our Melaminas, because we are one of few companies that continue to work with the compression and producing high quality products. It was through the compression that we developed award-winning collections, which we worked with Philippe Starck, Bodum, Thomson among other prestigious names throughout the world.
In Portugal we are very strong in the area of recycling since we were the first company to develop an Eco-Bucket tripartite and we have several solutions for the recycling waste with excellent quality, functional and attractive design.
In the area of hospitality it highlights us once again as the first company who developed and produced a spoon to replace the wooden spoon at the beginning of the 1990s. Today we have several products for hospitality where the quality, functionality and design stand out.
-What do you like most about Portugal? -It is difficult to say which I like most, because what I really like is the combination of our climate with a diversity of unique landscape (our Atlantic coastline and the amazing sunset at sea and our mountains with hidden small courners, ponds/rivers and diverse fauna) and gastronomy of excellence.
-What do you like most about the city of Leiria? -The Castle of Leiria.
In 1991, the reputation of the Faplana was recognized by the prestigious Designer Philippe Starck who developed some products, among them, the famous ashtray "Joe Cactus" (marketed by Alessi) and the radio "La La La" to Thomson.