Colombia 2017 | INDUSTRY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Ricardo Bribiesca, President & Director General of the Andean Region of PPG Industries, on strategic areas of growth, product segmentation, and raising the bar for industry sophistication.

Ricardo Bribiesca
Ricardo Bribiesca has been with PPG since 2003. Before becoming president of PPG Colombia, he was the Operations Director for the Asia Pacific region. He studied chemical engineering at the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico and also holds a master’s degree in technology management from Georgia Tech.

What is the strategic importance of the Colombian and Andean markets for PPG Industries?

As PPG Industries has expanded around the world, there are still a few markets where we see opportunities to grow. The Andean region is one of the areas where we are still underrepresented in terms of our market share and participation. Latin America and Asia are main areas where the company will be looking for growth. In terms of the mature regions, such as Europe, the US, and even Mexico, our levels of participation are so high that, while there is some room for more growth, we also have to concentrate on defending our market share. The Andean region is one of the regions where we see potential sources of growth for PPG Industries in the future.

What segments in particular present the biggest opportunities for you?

Today, we have five business units in the Andean region that we manage from Colombia and have one segment that is still managed from the US. We have our automotive business where our main customers in the Andean region are General Motors and Renault. However, our automotive business has been declining in Colombia. The local automotive industry is under a large amount of stress due to the free trade agreements Colombia has, while countries like Mexico have a competitive advantage. Therefore, it is a challenge for the automotive industry in Colombia to compete. PPG Industries' second business line is our protective and marine coatings business (PMC). This is a highly specialized segment that covers heavy-duty maintenance. This business line is mainly aimed at the oil and gas and infrastructure industries. Oil and gas was an important segment for us over the last three years while Colombia was building a new refinery; however, now our PMC business is more about maintenance and new projects. We also see great potential for growth in our marine business in Colombia, Chile, and Peru. Our third business line is products related to automotive repairs, for example collision repair and products for car builders that are not original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). This is an important market and is a little more fragmented than our first two business lines, but it is also a market that is starting to be driven by innovation. Our fourth segment is our general industrial business, which is basically anything that needs to be painted in a factory, such as appliances. This is perhaps where we see the greatest opportunities for growth here. As Colombia and the region start to get more activities in the OEM segment, along with more environmental protection standards coming in, this will help us to grow our business here. We see the opportunity to grow further as an industry as the region gets more sophisticated.

What other strategies or priorities do you have for PPG Industries in 2017?

Our goal is to continue growing the business here. Anywhere we think PPG Industries is underrepresented we have to go for market share. Our goal is to help the market become more sophisticated based on productivity and technology, so working to help industry be more competitive and environmentally friendly. We have to consolidate our operational strategy in the region. We are well established in Colombia, but there is still room for growth in other business lines that we do not have at present. We are evaluating whether we want to bring those types of businesses here or stick with the five business units we already have. Ecuador accounts for about 15-20% of our business, and Peru another 10-15%. We see opportunities in Peru, a market that we think will continue to grow. In Peru, oil is growing so there will be some infrastructure potential there. An important part of our consolidation is to define our business model for Peru.