ENORMOUS NEEDS

Colombia 2016 | INFRASTRUCTURE & CONSTRUCTION | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Luciano Gómez, General Manager of Latco, on the company's recent achievements, expectations for the economy, and expansion plans.

Luciano Gómez
BIOGRAPHY
Luciano Gomez graduated with a degree in civil engineering from Purdue University and later obtained a master’s degree in structures from the same university. He worked for five years as a structural engineer for Skidmore Owings & Merrill in the US. He returned to Colombia as the Construction Manager for Constructora Melendez from 1988-1992, and was General Manager at Constructora Holguines from 1995-1998. Since 1998, he has been the General Manager and shareholder of Latco.

What has characterized Latco's developments since its inception in 1998?

Latco is a family-owned business that builds in a variety of sectors including universities, schools, hospitals, and commercial centers. We have done a great deal of work in hospitals and social housing; however, our main projects have been in the industrial area. In early 2015, we were awarded the bid for construction of the international terminal for the airport in Cali, and we started construction in July. Our goal is to complete the project in October 2016. The project has an investment of COP104 billion. We are leading in a consortium with 70% of the participation, along with a Portuguese firm.

How important is this new terminal for the development of Cali and the economy?

Since the current airport infrastructure was built in 1971, the only renovations made were structural reinforcements, because the terminal is in a zone with strong seismic activity. There have been electrical improvements, but in general little infrastructural work has been done. They have been working on the international terminal for about 10 years, mainly because the airport is operating through a concession. This new terminal will also be instrumental in attracting investment for the city. Generally speaking, Cali has a great need to improve its infrastructure to solve circulation and mobility issues.

Latco's vision is to strengthen the footprint of the company in the national market by 2016. Do you think you will be able to achieve this?

We are in the process. For example, we have undertaken many projects in areas near to Cali. We currently have a construction project in Buenaventura, which is a port on the Pacific. We also have another job in Bucaramanga, which is in the northeast of Colombia.

What is your outlook for the economy of Cali?

The connection with Buenaventura is important for Cali. Many businesses are established in Cali because of the imports and exports that go through Buentaventura. My expectations for Cali are very high. Cali and its surroundings have been able to attract investment; for example, the Marriott was built in Cali, and we worked on that project. Unilever started operating a new plant close to Cali, which we also built. The pharmaceutical business is growing, especially through Tecnoquimicas, and we are involved in building its plants and offices. Not only is Tecnoquimicas a local firm, it is also exporting to different countries. There is plenty to be done in Cali but the economy is in a good position to accomplish it.

Are you planning on expanding to other markets outside of Colombia?

We are excited about expanding into international operations. For example, last year we were invited to bid on a cement plant in Peru. We are also considering partnerships with different firms. The correct thing to do is first consolidate our work here in Colombia, and then we will start thinking about going abroad.

What are your expectations for Latco in the year ahead?

The airport is a challenging job for us, and we have to finish it in October 2016. Latco is investing a lot of its resources to make that happen. We are also considering undertaking our own projects in the commercial and social housing segments, and housing in general. We are positive about 2016, because we anticipate that the city is going to be building more infrastructure. Overall, the economy is doing well in Cali and the construction is going to do well, too.