KEEPING IT IN THE FAMILY

Colombia 2014 | REAL ESTATE & CONSTRUCTION | B2B: WILL TO BUILD

With public infrastructure investment on the rise for housing, energy, and transport projects, established solutions providers are in demand.

Eduardo Enrique Ortiz Arango
EDUARDO ENRIQUE ORTIZ ARANGO
General Manager
Exiplast
Gabriel Díaz Ardilla
GABRIEL DÍAZ ARDILLA
President
Oikos

The government is planning to double investment in infrastructure for 2014. In your opinion, how will the construction sector develop in the near future?

GABRIEL DÍAZ ARDILLA There are high expectations for the development of the construction sector and reality will fulfill these expectations, regardless of the doubts many might have now. The government is increasing investment in infrastructure, which will contribute to the generation of more employment and further grow the national economy. We can expect another wave of social housing developments, as the construction sector is one of the main strategic industries on which the government is focused. Meanwhile, interest rates will remain low, meaning that real estate will still be an attractive area for investment.

EDUARDO ENRIQUE ORTIZ ARANGO Colombia's macro economic numbers and government policies are working. The country is viewed through a different perspective, particularly in this region, and we are receiving many international investors with new projects because the latest free trade agreements (FTAs) allow them to manufacture in Colombia and export to the region. Our geographical location is beneficial if you want to export to Central, South, or even North America. This situation makes the free trade zones (FTZs) a highly interesting project developing market. Our business is spread across construction, which is how the company started, and we have business lines in transportation, oil and gas, and water treatment.

What is the main business strategy of the company for 2014 and 2015?

GDA At the moment we are experiencing interesting growth. We have staff numbering over 350 thanks to the rapid growth of our storage and metal structure business lines. Our plan is to grow steadily and sustainably, as we do not aim to become the largest company in the industry, but the most reliable. In addition, we want to expand our portfolio of investors in the securities business line. Today we have 4,000 diverse investors. When we started the company 35 years ago, we settled upon the name Oikos, which means house in Greek, precisely because we aimed to make our employees and clients feel at home. We have a strong reputation among our clients and customers, who see us as a reliable partner. One of our main recent successes has also been to incorporate the storage business line, which has given us a boost in terms of growth. We closed last year with a turnover of $200 million, and expect to reach $250 million in 2014.

What are your expectations for Exiplast's new joint venture?

EEOA We used to represent Danpalon, a manufacturer of polycarbonate sheets from Israel, but in 2013 we entered into a joint venture with it and opened a new business for Colombia and the region. The new business is set to operate in Colombia, Panama, Ecuador, and Venezuela. It will manufacture polycarbonate sheets for sustainable architectural purposes, mostly roofs and facades. We have been its representative in Colombia for the past 18 years, and as the company is in an expansionary phase, it was willing to expand its operations here, too. It has a development pipeline of new products, which is interesting, and so our objective here is to push these new products, mostly focused on sustainable systems for facades. This year, 2014, has been great not only for the new company, but also for Exiplast, because our numbers are growing at a double-digit rate. We came from a low rate of growth in 2012 and 2013, and in 2014 have many expectations due to high international interest in our country shown by international investors, and also because of the economic stability the country is demonstrating year by year.