It gives me great joy to have this opportunity to address you in such an important celebration that is the 50th Anniversary of our Company. To reach half a century of existence in good shape, despite the difficult challenges to which we are being subjected, demonstrates how sustainable our company is.
This 50th birthday has a special meaning for me because I have experienced first-hand the last 30 years, among other things. I know about the first 20 years from what I have been told; many stories and many experiences from good friends from that generation of pioneers who have taught me so much.
During this time I have been lucky enough to work with a great number of people from the Group, from different countries and from different areas of the business. All of them had, and still have, something in common: a strong sense of belonging, organised minds, the courage to face challenges, and an enormous level of commitment to always place common interest before self-interest. A strong team made up of excellent people whom I have always admired.
I committed to memory the great moments they recounted to me; the project that was presented for the Campo de Gibraltar Development Pole in 1969; the incorporation of the Spanish Company "Acerinox” for the manufacture of stainless steel in 1970; the first office in Calle Hermosilla in Madrid, the move to the Calle Doctor Fleming office; the experiences lived by the teams that travelled to Japan to receive technical assistance from Nisshin, our longest standing partner; the start-up of the cold rolling mill in 1973; the melting shop in 1976, which made us self-sufficient; the first hot rolling "steckel" mill, which was installed in 1985 to manufacture stainless steel and which made us integrated manufacturers (a milestone in the sector and later imitated by other manufacturers); and the development of an international sales network that was unique at the time for a Spanish company.
Since I started working at Acerinox, I have witnessed first-hand our thriving international expansion, with the creation of North American Stainless in 1990 (which today produces half of all stainless steel in North America), the integration of Columbus Stainless in 2002 (which sells half of the stainless steel consumed throughout the entire African continent), and the construction of Bahru Stainless in 2008 (the venture into Asia, greater economic growth), always hand in hand with endless commercial expansion to the four corners of the planet. We have become the world's largest manufacturer of stainless steel in terms of steel production, we are undoubtedly one of the most competitive, and nobody disputes our label of being the most global, with factories on four continents, commercial presence in 51 countries on all five continents and sales in 96 countries.
Many experiences have left us with great moments. Old memories, feelings, sacrifice and considerable effort, which have taken the form of a solid company culture in which we proudly participate. We say, “we are from Acerinox”, with the pride of belonging to an important family, into which the new generations have been integrated.
With the same enthusiasm as always, we now face the beginning of the next 50 years with a clear strategy and a new challenge: we are the world's largest manufacturer of high-performance alloys (with the incorporation of the German company VDM this year). With the integration of this highly specialised and technically advanced team into the Acerinox structure, we aspire to become the largest supplier of stainless steels and special alloys that provides solutions for the requirements of the industries of the future. We have the most extensive catalogue of modern materials that combine an endless number of properties: corrosion resistance, high mechanical performance, resistance to both high and cryogenic temperatures, ease of cleaning and disinfection, thermal stability, resistance in extreme conditions, among many others, to which we will add the new developments discovered by our research teams, including 3D printing for which we are also preparing.
We have excellence ingrained in our DNA, excellence that we aspire to implement in all aspects of our lives, from production processes to administrative processes, from quality to safety. This will facilitate the incorporation of new technologies that emerge within the so-called digital transformation, which in our case is more of an evolution (although swift), since we have always maintained a technological focus and a taste for learning and innovating.
To withstand another 50 years, we need to be valued and loved by all those around us. This is why we must take care of our people and the communities in which we operate, as well as the environment, our customers, our suppliers and our shareholders, since we would never succeed without their support. We are committed to sustainability being a pillar of our strategy in order to place value on our efforts to manufacture a durable, recycled and recyclable product that supports the circular economy and stops the abuse of natural resources.
I will not keep you any longer, but I couldn't pass up this opportunity to convey a pure feeling, my pride in being from Acerinox, which I trust has taken root in the youngest members of our Acerinox family and will remain alive throughout the story we are yet to build.
We are celebrating this 50th Anniversary at a strange, uncertain and tragic time because of the lives that covid-19 is costing us. We cannot get together to share these moments, but we must be closer than ever. I have no doubt that we will come out of this crisis stronger and more successful.
Thank you to all of you who have made, and continue to make, Acerinox a success story. Congratulations!
Chief Executive Officer