The name Votorantim comes from a waterfall on the Sorocaba River, in the interior of the State of São Paulo, known as Salto de Voturuty, named by the Indians because of the “white cloud” formed by the splashes that rise from the waterfall.
This waterfall was located inside the property of Porfírio José Machado, Fazenda Votorantim, acquired by Banco União de São Paulo on July 1, 1890. The bank’s goal was to build a textile industry there and for that purpose it incorporated into its assets in January from 1891, the Salto de Itupararanga farm and Fazenda Itapeva.
Engineers, machines, trains, rails, wires, wood, immigrants, technicians, workers, would completely change the landscape of the old Votorantim Farm.
In two stages, in 14 years, Banco União would create a textile factory there – first for stamping, opened in 1892, and then for spinning and weaving.
When it was fully ready, at the beginning of the 20th century, the textile factory would be the largest in Sorocaba and one of the largest in Brazil.
General view of the fabric factory, déc. 1910
All sectors were in motion, synchronized by the huge clock, also brought from England, and the whistle of a large wood-fired boiler.
The daily life of the village began to emerge around the factory. The first literacy courses, daycare, English pension, dairy, butcher, store, pharmacy, barber, tailor.
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 – bricklayers, painters, carters, wood workers, potters, weavers, spinners, bleachers, dyers, technicians.
The inhabitants of Votorantim, at the beginning of the 20th century, had cinema, foot-ball, education.
Nursery School of the Votorantim Fabric Factory, 1920s
From 1905 to exalt the municipality of Sorocaba, highlighting the advance of modernity, the city was referred to as the “Manchester Paulista”. At that time, Manchester, in England, was consolidated as an important industrial center in Europe, consisting mainly of companies in the textile area, the same segment that started to concentrate in the city of São Paulo.
After a phase of growth and prosperity, Fábrica Votorantim would go through difficult times. In the first seven months of 1917 the factory stopped several times and in July the almost two thousand workers participated in the first major general strike that stopped the industry in São Paulo, the famous “Strike 17”. More than 200 thousand workers crossed their arms across the state of São Paulo.
In this crisis situation, two days before the general strike ended, on July 17, 1917 the news spread that the Votorantim Textile Factory had been leased to two capitalists who were going to make it work again.
A NEW TIME
In the opposite direction, betting against the crisis, the risks and the uncertain future of business, Antonio Pereira Ignacio and Nicolau Scarpa decide to undertake and lease the factory for 5 years. The deal was made on behalf of Pereira Ignacio & Cia, Antonio’s company, which already owned three weavings: São Bernardo Fabric Factory, Lusitânia Fabric Factory and Bom Retiro Cotton Factory. Pereira Ignacio was also one of the factory’s biggest partners, responsible for the supply of cotton.
In 10 days the factory is back in operation, receiving back the families that had been laid off, increasing the workers’ wages by 10% and fixing the daily shift at 10 hours, an evolution for the time.
After a few months, in January 1918, the bankruptcy of Banco União de São Paulo is auctioned and auctioned off by Antonio Pereira Ignacio and Nicolau Scarpa. Then came the Sociedade Anonyma Fabrica Votorantim, which had the fabric factory as its main business.
In 1925 José Ermírio de Moraes, son-in-law of Pereira Ignacio, starts working at Votorantim. He was responsible for supporting his father-in-law in the development and growth of the fabric business.
In the following decades, new businesses entered the Votorantim portfolio and, after 75 years, in 1993, the factory was sold.
The fabric factory was the seed for Votorantim S.A. to have the current portfolio configuration. The diversification of businesses since the 1930s was only possible due to the solidity of the fabric management by Antonio Pereira Ignacio and José Ermírio de Moraes.
Votorantim reaches 100 years in 2018 with a solid history, born from the cotton seed and woven with great dedication.
José Ermírio de Moraes (left) and Antonio Pereira Ignacio (center between the two bald men), and employees in front of the Fábrica de Tecidos office, c. 1928.