COMPONENTS OF DESIGN

Colombia 2018 | INDUSTRY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Hernán de Jesús Zapata Villegas, General Manager of Eurocerámica, on the company's continued focus on innovation, its internationalization policy, and upcoming industry trends.

Hernán de Jesús Zapata Villegas
BIOGRAPHY
Hernán de Jesús Zapata Villegas studied chemical engineering at UPB and specialized in ceramic engineering in Alfred University in the US. He has been the founder and president of Eurocerámica since its founding in 1988.

How would you describe the evolution of Eurocerámica since its creation, and what have been your main achievements and challenges?

The idea for the company arose in the minds of industrialists from Medellín to create an alternative in ceramics. This thought materialized in the municipality of Guarne, Antioquia, where the facilities of Eurocerámica were built in a 200,000sqm terrain. By 1991, we had automated the process and the first dispatch was made. The market was consolidated with demand of around 840,000sqm per year. We stand out with our varied product portfolio. In 1998, a new extension was made, with a production capacity of 4.8 million sqm per year. We also got ISO 9002:94 certification from BVQI. Entering the 21st century, the distribution channels nationally and internationally strengthened. In 2005, further expansion of the production plant began, which increased production levels to 6.6 million sqm per year. When manufacturing, our emphasis on every stage allows for a logical progression; the technology we use is state-of-the-art and the product is manufactured according to customers' orders. Today, the main challenge is to face the enterprise restructuring in accordance with Law 1116, which we are working on consciously, dependent on the availability of new products and services to the distribution network. We are working to increase the profitability of the company and promote training, evaluation, and the growth of our employees.

Does Eurocerámica export to the region?

Exporting is something we established as a corporate strategy, and we are in the process of internationalizing the company. With exposure to international markets, risk is diversified, a competitive level is gained, pressure is reduced, and the company's value increases. Exporting improves the packaging, as the quality criteria are raised to international standards, our portfolio expands, and marketing channels increase, among other advantages. A company that sells internationally is worth more than one that depends solely on the national market. In addition, exporting allows us to balance the ratio between imports and exports. It is a form of insurance to compensate for the greater value of imports before a possible devaluation of the peso. Currently, we export to Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, and the US.

What are the main trends in design for the ceramic market?

For 2018, five ceramic trends are projected, and we will adapt to each market according to its requirements. The first design trend is nature inspired. Nature continues to be our main source of inspiration, marbles in large dimensions, natural stones, and above all wood, with endless possibilities that new technologies now allow us. Second is a return to the home. Traditional pottery and mosaics reminiscent of the home are inspired by the latest graphic and textile trends. Customers see the home as a personal space. Today's ceramics are capable of converting small spaces into personal and intimate areas, changing traditional restaurants into contemporary spaces with an impressive design component. The third trend is about magical atmospheres. Ceramics are used outside, and the number of ceramic solutions for exteriors is great. We can also produce things such as large marble pieces with all the accents, large thicknesses to withstand any traffic, anti-slip finishes with great technical features, and other new developments from our R&D department that allow us to clean the water and collaborate with the environment in a committed and aesthetic way during the manufacturing process. The fifth trend will be about texture and movement. These include incredible reliefs on small formats, microreliefs, lines defined in wood, marbles, and large format stones.

What are your main priorities for 2018?

We will ensure our compliance with agreements with creditors. Incursion, development, and consolidation of our exports in the regional and the US market are important as well; we hope to export 1.2 million sqm in 2018. We also want to expand our installed capacity to 12 million sqm per year.