TBY talks to two major construction players on the characteristics of the building market and the expansion of the sector.
How would you describe your client base?
VALDEMAR GONZÁLEZ RODRÍGUEZ We have several accredited distributors throughout the country. They distribute our products directly and they also develop different kinds of construction projects directly demanded by a client using our materials. Moreover, we sell directly to major construction companies or to government enterprises such as Infonavit.
What are your fields of expertise?
ALEJANDRO F. CALZADA PRATS Around 70% of our projects are in road building, and the other 30% are in marine construction. Of that 30%, two-thirds consists of dredging projects, deepening ports and harbors, and the remainder is wet infrastructure, including marina and harbor construction. We plan to maintain our existing road-building business, but dredging is our most profitable sector, and we wish to expand those operations. We currently own a fleet of nine dredgers, which we want to expand to 12 or 13 in 2012.
How would you characterize the competition in the building materials market?
VGR Many people believe that it is very easy to put a new product into the Mexican market, but that is not the case. We mostly compete with five big manufacturers from Mexico and from abroad, making this market very busy and hard to survive in. Fortunately, we have a strong presence in the north of the country and a very good reputation, which makes it easier to compete with other companies.
ACP It’s a very tough market. In every bid we compete against 20 to 30 companies, Mexican and international. Maybe 15% of companies participating in these bids are foreign, mainly Spanish, including Aldesa and Isolux Corsán. They used to bid only on large projects, but now they go for projects of all sizes.
How important are innovative practices in the creation of your products?
VGR We have eight people constantly reviewing market trends and developing new products in concert with these trends. In addition, Bexel is currently investing in new equipment and in the recovery of raw materials that can be developed for commercial uses. The R&D department is the key element of our expansion strategy, and thanks to its work we are able to launch new products in the market. Our products have received acclaim due to the strong efforts made by our R&D department in analyzing customer needs, recovering raw materials, and developing suitable products for the market.
What is your assessment of the state of infrastructure development in Mexico?
ACP Mexico has been building a large number of major highways and roads over the past 10 or 15 years, and expanding the existing ones. Recently, Mexico began a very ambitious program for the restoration of existing roads, which is very positive because it doesn’t make a lot of sense to build new projects if the existing ones are not being maintained. The country also needs airports and seaports. That sector has not been touched much in the last 15 years, but currently a number of major ports such as Manzanillo and Altamira are being expanded.
What products are registering the greatest demand in Mexico?
VGR The product that developers are demanding most is “Azulejero Solución Total,” which is an adhesive for porcelain. This product is the leading solution in the market thanks to its durability and functionality. It is receiving a strong acceptance in the market and it could be considered as our top-of-the-range product. In addition, our different stucco products are performing very well due to the fact that our products are very strong insulators and make a difference in the market.
What changes do you foresee in the construction sector in Mexico?
ACP We need a better financial system for the private sector, and better support from the banking sector in terms of loans. Right now, competing with foreign companies that have access to cheaper money is putting us at a disadvantage. Mexico needs a lot of infrastructure, and given that the Mexican government is the main promoter of infrastructure construction, as long as our company has been in business we have never had a problem with the government honoring its contracts, which is very valuable in a developing economy.
© The Business Year