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Micro-precision applied to luxury watchmaking - VALOR Magazine

On July 6, CIMD General Manager Carlos Morgadinho was interviewed by VALOR magazine. We are delighted to share this interview with you in full.

CIMD has been in business for 33 years. Since Fundão, it has been manufacturing components for top-of-the-range Swiss watches.

Committed to being a company integrated in its community, responsible and with a social impact on its territory, according to director Carlos Morgadinho, CIMD is part of the IMI Group and is the second largest manufacturer of high-precision components for luxury watches.

What prompted you to specialize in this very specific field?

In fact, the company was founded against a backdrop of crisis in the watchmaking market in the 1980s and 1990s. In order to compete with the fast-growing Asian market, the French company Cheval Frères, SAS challenged a former employee (António Duarte) to set up a production unit in our country. That’s how CIMD was born in 1990, with a team of six people. Today, we have 135 employees who manufacture and sell components for the world’s leading watchmakers, particularly in the Swiss market. Focused on luxury and the motto “precision is an art”, together with the other companies in the group to which we belong – Groupe IMI (Industries de Microprécision Internationales) – we have succeeded in building a strong, multi-disciplinary brand.

What challenges does a company like CIMD face, given the difficulty of finding skilled labor and its location within the country? Is it possible to retain qualified human capital?

We know our region well, as well as the common reality in the interior of the country, marked by low population density, aging, desertification and rural exodus. Vocational training offers are geared more towards combating school drop-out and failure than towards training to meet the actual needs of territories in need of skilled labor. I understand that entrepreneurs need to be listened to more closely, so that training mechanisms are adjusted to the needs of those who are absolutely available to hire and ensure the stability of a skilled workforce to face the challenges of the future.
Otherwise, entrepreneurs will continue to struggle to find human resources, including abroad, supporting their own specific training in terms of work, language and even promotion of their social environment.

How important is the link with the community, in particular with the county’s schools, to raise awareness of the activity, job opportunities and benefits for workers?

We aim to create a closer link between our target audience of tomorrow and the work carried out in the company, in order to generate greater attractiveness and capacity to offer qualified and interesting career paths for young people. We receive well-prepared study visits with schools, and have materials to make students aware of the careers and professional futures we can offer here. We work with schools on programs to recognize students’ achievements, particularly in fields related to everything we do here.

While 85% of your business is dedicated to exporting the components you produce for fine watchmaking, 15% of your activity is geared towards manufacturing parts for fields as varied as Medicine, Aeronautics, Electricity and Telecommunications. Is there a possibility of investing more heavily in these fields in the near future, to balance out or increase the percentage of production of these types of components?

Our focus on these areas began in 2009, with the expansion of our product range. We created a unit dedicated to the machining of synthetic ceramics, which is more technological, as opposed to micro-precision components, where machines merely make the process more profitable. In 2016, we launched the precision machining unit, focused on CNC machines for metalworking. Here, it’s more necessary to continue investing in technological development and training, something to which the Fundão Advanced Training Center, IEFP and CIMD can contribute, by including courses in the CNC field.

Although the world has experienced economic crises, has the luxury goods market been excluded from these issues? What is your analysis of the company’s growth in recent years?

The watchmaking market itself has seen its share of crises. From the crisis of the 1980s-1990s, through the threat posed by the first digital watches. Also in 2016, with the advent of connected watches, we decided to change our business model for the future, the results of which we have been seeing since 2019. Despite the constraints of the pandemic situation, we have continued to develop our business. We have invested in the installation of 794 photovoltaic panels and, still in 2023, we will complete the remaining surface area of our facilities. We have always managed to overcome these obstacles by being enterprising and highly responsive in the face of adversity. Over the past two years, we have already doubled our workforce, and we expect to reach 200 employees in the near future.

2015 was a crucial year for CIMD SA, which changed premises following the growth of its business. How would you sum up this new phase for CIMD?

In 2015, we reached record production and invoicing levels. This growth reality forced the acquisition of physical space, increasing from two thousand square meters to 11 thousand square meters. Faced with a very positive evolution of results, we will continue to invest in the consolidation and diversification of the activity carried out. This month, we presented ourselves as a Brand at the world’s largest high-precision trade fair – “Le Monde de La Haute Précision”, in Geneva. A new door is opening, with all the challenges and obstacles that come with it.

As a community-oriented company, what contribution does CIMD SA make to the community in which it is based and to the institutions with which it works closely?

In a sparsely populated area, we guarantee a very high level of employability, both locally and regionally, which in itself represents a contribution to the economic and social dynamic. Secondly, our purchasing policy for goods and services gives preference to local and regional suppliers, helping to strengthen the economic and social fabric of our region.