Colombia 2017 | INDUSTRY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Diana Pabón Morales, General Manager of Quimica Cosmos, on changes in the housing sector, new product lines, and forthcoming regulations in the industry.

Diana Pabón Morales
Diana Pabón Morales is General Manager of Quimica Cosmos. The company is ranked number two in architectural paints in Colombia. She has been with the company since 2000, working in areas such as purchasing and logistics and quality management systems. Later she transitioned into purchasing management, allowing her to become an expert in international business and strategic negotiations.

What is your outlook on how the tax reforms will affect the housing sector?

The government extends its collection through small businesses and employee wages, and the economy can be affected because it can reduce consumption. At the industrial level, the income tax will be reduced, but profits will fall, possibly reducing the interest of investment from foreign companies and causing the exit of several companies. However, there could be good investment expectations in the post-conflict zones, as they will have the benefit of reduced income tax for 10 years. In the construction sector, construction of houses that exceed COP800 million could be reduced as they will be taxed with VAT; therefore, our sales can be affected.

What opportunities do you see in the post-conflict era for Quimica Cosmos, particularly in previously inaccessible regions?

We will see a number of foreign governments looking to invest in the country, such as the US and the UK, to support the development of areas affected by the war. The Colombian government also has a rural development plan, under which it will give subsidies and other support to develop areas not previously accessible. Of course, for Quimica Cosmos this also represents an opportunity to promote and sell products in these areas.

Beyond housing what other sectors are you focusing on for 2017?

Our main focus and business line is architectural paints, in which we rank second in Colombia's market share. We are developing two more product lines, one for construction and another for industry. In the construction segment, we already have certain products and are developing some new lines. In terms of industries, we seek to meet the market by manufacturing products that are faster to use. For example, some old products require the customer to mix and wait before applying them, so we are developing a much faster product that is easier to apply, environmentally friendly, and better for people's health.

What products are you developing to fit the needs of the local market in Colombia?

We have developed two ways of meeting the market's needs. One is through our suppliers, which basically offer us all the new technologies available. Our policy is that the new technologies we use have to be environmentally friendly and non harmful to human health. One of these is an anti-insect paint coating that repels insects. This is particularly important in Colombia today with mosquitoes carrying diseases such as the Zika virus. The product contains a specific chemical that is used by the Swiss Army and was integrated into soldiers' clothing to keep mosquitoes away. This chemical will be used in our paints. Importantly, it does not kill mosquitoes; it just repels them, so this product is ecologically friendly in design. Another way to meet market needs is through our annual surveys with our clients. We use their feedback to help us develop new product lines.

What are your goals for Quimica Cosmos in 2017?

For 2017, we plan to keep growing and aim for double-digit growth of around 12%, which is what we achieved in 2015. Given the new market opportunities that have opened up now, we are also looking for new activities in the construction and industrial sector. From March 2017 onward, the government is starting a formalization process for our sector. There are many players in the paint industry in Colombia that do not always meet the required standards, so further regulation of the sector is required. Starting in March 2017, every paint product will have to comply with the labeling regulation provided by the government. This is an excellent development for companies like us that already comply with regulations, not to mention for the standards of the paint industry in general. The standards in the sector will be higher, and we have a headstart already.