OZONE GENERATION

Colombia 2019 | INDUSTRY | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Felipe González Garza, Executive President of Acesco Colombia, on Chinese steel, transparency, and Barranquilla's industrial sector.

Can you tell us about the goals of your new warranty platform and what it offers?

The Latin American market is currently being oversupplied by Chinese steel. Acesco has been successful in offering the highest quality steel to supply the industry for the last 49 years. The trade war between the US and China has created a price war, with China pushing down prices for a product that looks similar to ours but is a different quality standard based on the amount of zinc it blends in the steel. Our new warranty program “Telo Garantiza” sets out to help the market identify the huge difference between a high-quality product and what we currently see coming into Colombia. We are the first warranty program specifically for the steel industry in Colombia, with a warranty scope of up to 25 years being offered in all our products, including our popular roofing and painting products. The program is a great effort from Acesco to teach the market the difference, protect our brand, and outline the importance of high-quality steel.

What are the benefits of the transportation management system (TMS) program and the mission of transparency and innovation?

The logistic infrastructure in Colombia is 20 years behind the standard in Mexico or Brazil, so logistics here are a complicated issue. 90% of the fleet is owned by small owners who go through transport companies, which is different to Mexico, where companies own fleets. In Colombia, it is a very informal sector, which makes it challenging from a transparency perspective. Our logistics team sought to improve the visibility of our trucking operations by creating a TMS platform that offers timely arrival updates, checkpoint documentation, pictures of how the merchandise was loaded, direct access to the driver, and a platform to register any complaints. We are the only company in Colombia that hires only one transport company with its own logistical TMS platform, and as such we have reduced delivery times by 50% and improve our service coverage by 20-basis points.

What was the inspiration behind the Ozone Generation project, and how is Acesco making it a priority?

This is one of our brand programs for the future that we launched in early 2019, and we are taking great steps to grow in that business model. Colombia recently approved the Asbestos Law; the country currently has around 600 million sqm of asbestos roofing, which accounts for 50% of the market. This asbestos roofing must be handled by a specialized company, since it is a toxic material. Most of this roofing was made 30-40 years ago, when structural laws were different. Most distribution centers and factories with asbestos roofing also need structural renovations since they do not meet the regulations. We are leading a coalition of companies to work together and offer a packaged service that includes the uninstallation of this hazardous material and the redesign of the roofing structure with a bioclimatic technique using our best products. We are designing the roof to allow for solar panels, and we are also offering service financing products with very attractive interest rates. This is being led by Acesco in partnership with other companies.

Can you tell us about the main drivers of growth in the local economy, specifically for Acesco's industry in Barranquilla?

In 1980, Acesco was located in Bogotá, and our founders decided to move strategically and expand. At the time, Barranquilla was still small with no big industry though it had potential due to its proximity to the sea and Magdalena River, which makes Barranquilla the port of entry for merchandising. The other reason is for exports, as Barranquilla is the closest place in Colombia with a reach to the US and Caribbean markets. Though the recent laws from the US have closed its market to us, traditionally 10-20% of our production is for export. This also applies to the industry in general. Barranquilla is one of the few cities in Colombia that has the land and territory to grow by three times. The government is conducting a study to determine the best way to develop the city in the next 50 years. All these initiatives will take Barranquilla from potential to reality as the best place to locate one's industry.

What does your recent Arquitectura Prix Award for the Edgar Renteria Stadium mean for the company, and what exciting projects are in the pipeline for 2020?

We are extremely proud to have participated in this project with structural products and roofing. The attraction is the roofing because that project was one of the first where we used our new painting technology. The stadium will look new for the next 25 years, and this is our guarantee. We did not expect to win this award, as it is a small stadium though it complies with all the specifications of Major League Baseball. When we talk to any construction company, we always say their project should be iconic. This project was financed by a Colombian group hired by the same company that built the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.