INNOVATION ABOVE ALL ELSE

Colombia 2019 | INDUSTRY | INTERVIEW

Químíca Cosmos maintains ambitious goals consistent with its impressive performance in previous years.

Diana Pabón Morales
BIOGRAPHY
Diana Pabón Morales is General Manager of Químíca Cosmos, only the second Colombian company producing architectural paints. She has been with the company since 2000, working in areas such as purchasing, logistics, and quality management systems. Later, she transitioned into purchasing management, allowing her to become an expert in international business and strategic negotiation.

What have been the opportunities in 2018, and how have they contributed to your growth?
We believe that with the new government there are new expectations at the industrial level. There is a feeling of stability at the business level, which is why international companies have returned to the country due to economic credibility. As a result, there will be business growth, low unemployment rates, and a booming construction sector, which in turn means growth for us. We are coming from a period of economic slowdown, so 2018's growth will be below 7%, but the expectations for 2019 are much higher.

How do you see the government's tax reform plans?
The changes are positive for us because there will be support at the business level. The government seeks to reduce tax rates for companies to produce more dynamism and increase the scope of middle-class taxpayers. With the tax reform, companies will have greater cash flow, so that there can be more investment, for example, in innovation. We prioritize innovation because we are looking for new technologies that are environmentally friendly.

What new product lines is the company looking for, and what role does product innovation play in its corporate strategy?
Our vision is to use new technologies that help the environment and reduce those products that may have harmful side effects on people. We recently launched a water-based enamel flooring product useful for courts and parking lots. By making products that do not contain solvents, we can minimize the side effects on people who work with our products. For example, a few years ago, we launched paint with less odors and volatile organic compounds (VOC), which pollute the environment. We are known as the innovators in the Colombian paint industry.

How do you invest in human capital?
A company is not made by its infrastructure but its human capital. We have been focused on this social aspect for many years. We have had our housing policies for 25 years, which has benefited up to 30 families that work with us. Regarding our employees, we offer many benefits, such as housing, education, and vehicle purchases. In terms of housing, the company supports employee savings with interest-free loans. Our goal is to help people with fewer possibilities, such as workers or helpers, in acquiring properties. We also have programs aimed at educating our workforce. For example, we offer support for higher education related to the company by paying half of the tuition and giving out interest-free loans for the other half. Any employee with a standard salary can access these benefits; if the company grows, the entire value chain must also.

What is the approach of Químíca Cosmos toward expanding its client portfolio?
We have operations across Colombia and our strategy is to offer personalized attention. Moreover, we hold discussions with our supervisors and commercial managers about product management, health benefits, and strategies for applying new technologies. We seek approaches of knowledge in the entire value chain of the company.

What is the approach of Químíca Cosmos to international markets? What expansion and international growth plans do you have?
For now, the country has yet to experience substantial growth levels. Since we are the second paint factory in Colombia, our participation in the market is still small, and we must continue to grow.

What are your expectations for 2019?
We manage two lines of business. The first line is manufacturing and selling paints, whereas the second involves providing raw materials to the paint industry, producing soap for homes and plastics for various uses. Moving forward, we will increase the production of resins and emulsions and undertake procedures to make new construction and expand our presence in the paint industry.