08 / 03 / 2023

Interview IV – 100 Years of Oropal


This interview marks the fourth installment of a special series commemorating the 100 years that the Oropal brand has celebrated in 2023. Each testimony from former Oropal employees who experienced the transition to Irurena Group offers a unique insight into how this century-old company has remained resilient and continually evolved in the ever-changing business world.

In this case, we introduce Martin Larruskain, an experienced Oropal worker who witnessed the brand’s absorption by Irurena Group, revealing an inspiring perspective on his experience with the company’s change. Amidst a process that often brings uncertainty and resistance, Larruskain shares how he found professional opportunities in this transition, demonstrating that adaptability and a positive attitude can turn challenges into genuine opportunities for success.

Today, Martin plays a key role as the manager of the Oropal Denda store in Lasarte-Oria, where he serves customers with the same passion and commitment that have characterized his career. His story is a reminder that, even amid business transformations, perseverance and dedication can lead to a future full of successes.


What was your role at Oropal before Irurena Group and what is it now?

During the first 12 years at Oropal, my role was purely commercial. I started as support for Juan Busnadiego, the brand’s commercial director, acting as his right-hand person to monitor distributors. Over the next 16 years, I became the Head of Dispatch at the Urnieta factory.

Upon entering Irurena Group, I continued working in the dispatch office (mostly with Oropal customer orders), and since 2019, I have been the manager of the Lasarte store, Oropal Denda.

I had no issues adapting to Irurena Group. The work processes changed, but nothing particularly challenging.

How do you remember the early days of sales at Oropal?

It was my first job, that’s when you start to realize what it means to work. I used to visit distributors, initially alongside Busnadiego, and later on my own.

I remember that, due to the computerization of the factory, I was also assigned the task of entering invoices into a computer. It was a parallel task to the regular invoicing to check if the data matched. I was starting to have responsibilities, and it was a bit daunting, but at the same time, it was exciting.

What was the professional looking for in this product?

In general terms, customers have always sought price at equal qualities. Oropal has had a reputation among customers for being a quality product. Many choose to buy Oropal for this reason, which has given us a reputation for paint with very good performance. But it is crucial, and increasingly so, that deliveries are not only quick but also reliable. The resolution of issues and concerns plays a significant role in customer loyalty to the brand.


Have you noticed a difference between how it was sold before and how it is sold now?

In general, customers now purchase smaller quantities. Years ago, any customer (painter, small business, etc.) would buy larger quantities than needed and act as a “warehouse.” Nowadays, purchases are made based on what is expected to be sold, and when the stock runs out, a new order is placed.

It all depends on the customer’s preference; some buy a large quantity in a single order, while others make smaller purchases but more frequently.


Can you share an anecdote, personal experience, or curiosity that you remember?

At the beginning of my time at Oropal, one of our best customers, whose business was manufacturing machine tools, called us because the paint we regularly sent him was not working correctly. According to him, it wasn’t drying as it had in previous instances.

It was something very strange since we were still sending him exactly the same product. So, at that moment, I loaded 100kg of his paint into the car and headed to the factory.

After a 4-hour journey, I arrived, and they told me they had changed the painters I knew from previous visits and had hired new ones. We accessed the painting area, and one of the painters told me not to send any more “thinner” because they didn’t need it. That comment surprised me because we didn’t supply them with thinner, so I approached to see what product it was.

What he called thinner was the catalyst that accelerated the drying process of the paint. Not knowing its purpose, the new painters were not using it, and that was the issue with drying. It was a matter of quick resolution that required 8 hours of driving.

What did it mean for Irurena Group to continue with the commercialization of Oropal? Taking charge of it.

On a personal level, it meant the continuity of my job. Seeing that it was a company of much larger scale, it was exciting to see and understand how it operated. All the resources we had at Franco Hermanos S.A. multiplied exponentially. And in my heart, after 28 years of work, knowing that the brand was not going to be forgotten.


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