Weaving the history of Votorantim

By buying the bankrupt estate of Banco União in 1918, Antonio Pereira Ignacio acquired more than a textile factory, he planted the seed of a solid centennial history.



The name Votorantim comes from a waterfall of the river Sorocaba, in the interior of the state of São Paulo, known as Salto de Voturuty, named this way by the indians because of the “white cloud” formed by the spills that come from the waterfall.
This waterfall was located within the property of Porfirio José Machado, Fazenda Votorantim, acquired by Banco União de São Paulo on July 1, 1890. The bank aimed to build a textile industry there and thus it incorporated the ranch Salto de Itupararanga and Fazenda Itapeva to its assets in January 1891.
Engineers, equipment, trains, rails, wire, wood, immigrants, technicians and workers would completely change the landscape of the former Fazenda Votorantim.
In two stages, within 14 years, Banco União built a textile factory there – at first dedicated to stamping, opened in 1892 and, later, to spinning and weaving.

When it was completely ready, at the beginning of the 20th century, the textile factory became the largest plant in Sorocaba and one of the largest in Brazil.

Overview of the textile factory, 1910´s

April, 1892

All sectors were in motion, synchronized by the huge clock, also brought from England, and the whistle of a large wood-fired boiler.
The everyday life of the village emerged around the factory. The first literacy courses, the daycare center, the British pension, the dairy, the butcher shop, the grocery store, the drugstore, the barber shop, the tailor´s shop.
In 250 thousand square meters, the factory and the villages, future neighborhoods - Barra Funda, Chave, Vila Albertina, Bela Vista.
In the four villages, 1,200 workers - masons, painters, truck drivers, lumbermen, potters, weavers, spinners, bleachers, dyers, technicians.
The inhabitants of Votorantim, in the beginning of the 20th century, had a movie theater, football, education.

Nursery school of the textile factory Fábrica de Tecidos Votorantim , 1920´s

Manchester of the State of São Paulo

As of 1905, in order to elevate the city of Sorocaba, emphasizing the advancement of modernity, the city started to be called the “Manchester of the State of São Paulo”. At that time, Manchester, in England, was consolidated as an important industrial hub of Europe, consisting mainly of textile companies, the same segment that began to gather in Sorocaba.

A new era

Against the situation, betting on the crisis, the risks and the uncertain future of the business, Antonio Pereira Ignacio and Nicolau Scarpa decide to undertake and rented the factory for 5 years. The deal was closed on behalf of Pereira Ignacio & Cia, a company that belonged to Antonio, who already had three weaving companies: Fábrica de Tecidos São Bernardo, Fábrica Lusitânia de Tecidos and Fábrica de Algodão do Bom Retiro. Pereira Ignacio was also one of the largest partners of the factory, responsible for the supply of cotton.
Cotton department in the city of Cerqueira César, state of São Paulo, 1920´s.
In 10 days, the factory was back to work, welcoming back the families who had been laid off, increasing the wages of workers by 10% and establishing a daily journey of 10 hours, an evolution for that time.
After a few months, in January 1918, the bankrupt estate of Banco União de São Paulo was auctioned and acquired by Antonio Pereira Ignacio and Nicolau Scarpa. Sociedade Anonyma Fabrica Votorantim was then created, with the textile factory as its main business.
In 1925, José Ermírio de Moraes, son-in-law of Pereira Ignacio, started working at Votorantim. He was responsible for supporting his father-in-law in the development and growth of the textile business.

In the 1970´s, in order to promote its textile products, Votorantim used to hold fashion shows and publish editorials, whose records are filed in the collection of Memória Votorantim.

In the following decades, new businesses entered the portfolio of Votorantim and, after 75 years, in 1993, the factory was sold.
The textile factory was the seed that enabled Votorantim S.A. to have the current configuration for its portfolio. The business diversification as of the 1930´s was only possible due to the solidity of the textile administration by Antonio Pereira Ignacio and José Ermírio de Moraes.
Votorantim celebrates its 100 years in 2018 with a solid history, born of the cotton seed and woven with great dedication.

José Ermírio de Moraes (left), Antonio Pereira Ignacio (at the center, between the two bald men) and employees in front of the office of the textile factory , c. 1928.