STRONG FOUNDATIONS

Colombia 2018 | CONSTRUCTION & REAL ESTATE | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Ricardo Naya, President of Cemex,on caring for employees, customers, and the community.

Ricardo Naya
BIOGRAPHY
With 22 years of experience in CEMEX, Ricardo Naya has held different leadership positions in the company. Almost half of his professional career in the company has been related to strategic planning areas. He started working in planning in the Mexican operations and then moved to corporate planning to perform M&A activities. He then led the planning functions for the South America and Caribbean, Europe, Middle East, and Asia regions, and finally US operations. The other half of his career has been connected to operational challenges. He led the post-merger integration of RMC and he was also Country Manager for Poland and the Czech Republic. He was the head of the Commercial Function for Mexico and then Vice-President for the Distribution Segment. He is currently the President of CEMEX Colombia. Ricardo is an economist from the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey, and holds an MBA from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

What is your strategy to adjust to recent economic changes?

We have a business model that focuses firstly on creating a better future for our employees, since they are the only competitive advantage we have. Second, we focus on creating value for our customers because Cemex can only succeed when our customers do. If we are able to create value for our employees and customers, by default we will create value for our shareholders and the communities where we operate. To translate that into our day-to-day operations, the safety of our employees is our number-one responsibility. We have a rigorous system to ensure that we create a safer environment for them and reduce the number of operational accidents by more than 50%. There is nothing more important than our people, and we are proud that Colombia is ranked number two in the global Cemex system for having the most committed employees.

What is the composition of your customer portfolio?

We serve close to 3,000 customers on a daily basis and make close to 2,000 deliveries a day either directly to job sites or distribution businesses requesting small quantities of cement. Therefore, we have a wide variety of customers. We split our customers into four major segments. In our distribution segment, we sell both cement and business strategies to small entrepreneurs, helping them run their business more efficiently. That is one of the most important and relevant segments. The other is the construction segment, which mostly consumes ready-mix concrete or cement and serves the whole Colombian market. The third is the industrial segment, whose customers purchase ready-mix concrete, pre-cast products, or blocks. For these customers, we sell a whole package and a unique solution. The fourth is the infrastructure segment, the 3,000 customers we serve on a daily basis.

How was the recent launch of your online platform?

That is one of the important efforts that the company is launching globally. Cemex has decided to bet on digitizing the company and industry. We just launched Cemex Go in Colombia, which is only the third country after Mexico and the US. We are happy to say that customer adoption is promising. The industry is going through a deep transformation, but construction has been late in adopting certain technologies.

How would evaluate your corporate social responsibility efforts?

We have a set of programs related to the environment and are concerned with reducing our carbon footprint in the production process. Our largest cement plant, Caracolito, sells 25% of all the industry's cement, and 20% of its fuel now comes from alternative sources, while 50% of our energy consumption comes from renewables. We have other programs and believe in the peace process the government launched. There is no better way to do so than provide job opportunities for ex-combatants.

What targets and goals are you setting for Cemex Colombia?

2018 will be a transitional year for the sector. In 2016 and 2017, the cement industry had negative demand and the first quarter of 2018 has proven still to be challenging. However, there will be more clarity, and consumer confidence will continue to improve, which will trigger more investment in this market. The foundations are strong, but the country has tremendous infrastructure and housing needs; therefore, it truly is the type of country we like to operate in. Megacities such as Bogotá will continue to have increasing infrastructure and housing needs, and there is a massive program to renew its transport, infrastructure, and housing. Colombia will be a protagonist in the Cemex portfolio, so we will continue investing in our people and the assets we have here to ensure we ride this wave.