In the late 1930s, the political and economic backdrop was filled with uncertainty as the European context pointed to imminent conflicts that would end up affecting the entire global geopolitics.
Even though these fears reached Brazil, the domestic economic setting was favorable to entrepreneurship. Brazil had been one of the first nations to overcome the difficulties of the Great Crash of 1929, and Getúlio Vargas' administration was investing heavily to develop the domestic manufacturing industry. Making the most of Rio Grande do Sul's workforce and drive, the state was enjoying auspicious times and seeking to increase its share in the Brazilian economy by cementing its position as a major supplier for the Brazilian domestic market, a position that would be secured in the war years. It is in such context, in an area plagued by several conflicts over the property of land, miscegenation, and an economic and social backdrop quite unlike that found elsewhere in the country, that Forjas Taurus was founded in 1939. In the course of our company's successful history, we have made a point of investing in the state's potential, relying on Rio Grande do Sul's workforce, and helping the state's economy grow in Brazil and the world.
Forjas Taurus Ltda. was born when friends João Kluwe Júnior, Ademar Orlando Zanchi, Oscar Henrique Purper, Eugênio Ervin Hausen, Herbert Müller and João Guilherme Wallig decided to create their own company. They ordered machines from Germany. However, as World War II broke out, those purchases were cancelled. Because there were no suppliers in Brazil, the entrepreneurs decided to build their own machines, which at first were meant solely to be used in-house but later on were sold to other companies as well. Crude oil supplies were compromised in the wake of the War, which forced our company to build gasification furnaces. As steel became scarce, Taurus stared making products from scrap metal. A baptism of fire, but one that has shown the drive and creativity inherent to the brand from the start.
After World War II ended, it became easier and cheaper to import machinery. That made it harder to sell domestic products. Faced with the new scenario, Our company went back to pursuing our original purpose, redirected investments and began manufacturing revolvers and hand tools. On June 27, 1949, Forjas Taurus was incorporated, and a new cycle of growth started.
The manufacture and sales of weapons intensified and, in a short period, production and demand grew. Our company's industrial complex was expanded and the construction of a new plant began.
1960s and 1970s
After the industrial complex expansion was completed, a new factory in the northern district of Porto Alegre was built. However, the 1960s was a decade marked by great political tensions in the country, which resulted in exceptionally strict regulations on the trading of weapons. Still lacking the structure to compete in the foreign market, Forjas Taurus transferred its controlling interest to a foreign company in the early 1970s.
Also in the early 1970s, Forjas Taurus bought the renowned English tools brand Ifesteel, leading to the creation of Taurus Ferramentas Ltda. in São Leopoldo. In 1977, our company's control was bought back by a Brazilian company, Polimetal - Indústria e Comércio de Produtos Metálicos Ltda.
In July 1980, Taurus bought all shares in pistol and machine gun manufacturer Indústria e Comércio Beretta S.A., the Italian company's Brazilian subsidiary located in São Paulo. After that, Taurus began making our mark in semiautomatic pistols and further increasing our output capabilities and product lines. In 1981, Taurus International Manufacturing Inc. (TIMI) was founded in Miami, Florida, the US, to boost our growth in the North American market. Two years later, Taurus Blindagem Ltda. was created, our group's company tasked with making make bulletproof shields and vests. In August 1986, Taurus had Taurus Blindagem Ltda. start making motorcycle helmetsafter buying the factory Induma - Metais e Plásticos Ltda. Soon, we pioneered the use of Kevlar in Brazil, a synthetic fiber five times stronger than steel. Hence was our leadership secured in the markets of motorcycle and bicycle helmets, bulletproof vests, and riot shields.
In 1990, Taurus Blindagens was relocated to Guarulhos, São Paulo. One year later, Taurus purchased Mecanótica Indústria e Comércio de Equipamentos e Produtos Óticos, owner of the famous Champion brand of goggles and helmets for motorcycle racing. 1991 also marked the beginning of the manufacturing and marketing of the PT-22 and PT-25 pistols by Taurus International Manufacturing Inc. In 1994, INMETRO granted Taurus the ISO 9000 seal series 9001. Later on, the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) ratified the certification by recognizing it in the United States. The ISO 9000 certification from the Brazilian Institute for Nuclear Quality (IBQN) was obtained in 1995, along with the certification from the RWTÜV - Rheinisch-Westfälischer Technischer Überwachungsverein e.V. in Essen, Germany. In November 1999, Taurus celebrated 60 years in operation. In the course of our history, our company has become one of the three largest small arms manufacturers in the world, boasting customers in over 70 countries in the five continents.
In 2000, Taurus International was chosen by the Shooting Industry Academy of Excellence as the "Manufacturer of the Year", and our Titanium Millennium and Total Titanium pistols and revolvers as "Handguns of the Year." In 2001, our company was presented with the "Manufacturer of the Year" trophy by the US National Association of Sporting Goods Wholesalers (NASGW). In 2003, our company won other awards, most notably for Taurus Copper Bullet.45 and 480 Raging Bull. Sparing no efforts to branch out, in 2004, Taurus struck two new deals: our company assumed operating control of Wotan, in Gravataí, and joined Famastil in Gramado, thereby creating Famastil Taurus.
In October 2005, Brazil held a referendum on whether to ban the sale of firearms and ammunition in the country. The majority of voters (63.94%) stood against the restriction, while a little over a third of voters (36.06%) supported the restriction on the sale of weapons. Our company welcomed the results not only for their economic impact, considering most weapons made by our company are exported, but also for the greater maturity shown by the Brazilian society as people refused to have their freedom and right to self-defense compromised.
That same year, our PT 24/7 pistol was presented with the "Golden Bullseye Award" for Handgun of the Year in the United States, granted by American Rifleman.
In 2008, our company invested to expand the output of long arms by the São Leopoldo plant. In 2009, Forjus Taurus ranked 75th among the 500 largest companies in southern Brazil, according to a special issue of magazine Amanhã. The year before, our company had ranked 97th. The ranking has been put together for 19 years and considers companies in Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina and Paraná. In the industry-specific "Metallurgy" ranking, our company finished fifth. In the ranking of the 100 largest Rio Grande do Sul companies, Taurus rose from the 38th to the 27th place.
The decade started with new investments being made by our company. The new industrial plant that began operating in Bahia made it possible to expand the production of helmets to cater to the domestic demand. The new plant has allowed us to reach the mark of 2 million helmets made every year. Additionally, it is ready to keep up with the domestic market's growth as it is capable of manufacturing a total of 2.5 million units a year.
The year 2011 was a milestone in the history of Forjas Taurus S.A. Our company conducted an important business combination that changed our capital structure. Consequently, our shareholders' participation increased as our company became a corporation under diffuse control, albeit one that has a reference shareholder. In addition, we began a comprehensive process to improve our corporate governance and joined BM&FBOVESPA's Level 2 in July 2011. That move has secured advantages and guarantees for our shareholders and enhanced our company's image in the capital market.
Finally, Taurus amended our Articles of Incorporation to reflect our regulatory and corporate governance improvements, such as the greater role played by all shareholders in our Board of Directors and the creation of three Committees to assist the Board (Audit and Risk Committee; Compensation and People Development Committee; and Management and Corporate Governance Committee). These committees have been set up ahead of the legislation, as they are not mandatory yet. Additionally, the Audit Committee now remains as a permanent body. Also according this governance framework, the Articles of Incorporation set forth that the Chairman of the Board of Directors and CEO positions cannot be held by the same person, and that a specific appointment must be made to the office of Chief Investor Relations Officer.
In addition, Taurus celebrated winning our company's 7th "Handgun of the Year" award, considered the most important accolade in the US arms industry. Our PT 740 pistol was recognized for its innovative design and technological progress in terms of materials, ergonomics, and safety.
Even in an year when an important transition was taking place, the three major goals set by the Board of Directors for 2012 were achieved and will naturally bear fruit until they are completed:
1. Growing through acquisitions: we bought (i) Steelinject (M.I.M. - Metal Injection Molding technology) in Brazil in January 2012, cementing the Taurus technology in this local line of business; and (ii) Heritage in the US, a highly profitable company that allows us to operate in special niches of the weapons market;
2. Debt extension and lower financial costs: a permanent overall goal meant to renew loans at lower costs and longer repayment time by seeking alternative international loans and making third-party capital's weighted average cost more competitive; and
3. Relocating and concentrating our manufacturing complex in order to achieve synergy, quality, and output gains, as well as lower costs:
1. The Heritage plant was relocated from Opa Locka (FL) in the US to the TIMI - Taurus International Manufacturing, Inc. plant in Hialeah, in the Greater Miami Area (FL) in the US in September 2012, where we already had gun manufacturing operations;
2. The Steelinject plant (metal injected products for third parties) then in Caxias do Sul (RS) was relocated to the São Leopoldo plant (RS) in 2013, where the M.I.M. - Metal Injection Molding plant already operates making components to be used in-house on gun production lines; and
3. Relocation of Rossi brand long arms production line from the current plant at leased facilities to the São Leopoldo plant (RS), owned by our company.