HARNESSING THE ENTREPRENEURIAL MENTALITY

Colombia 2020 | INDUSTRY & AGRICULTURE | INTERVIEW

Apart from consistently adding value to every product line it touches, Atlas Copco also focuses on pursuing sustainable profitability.

William Benavides
BIOGRAPHY

William Benavides is Regional General Manager for Atlas Copco Colombia-CEV Region (Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela). An electromechanical engineer with an executive MBA, he has more than 25 years of experience in the company, where he has helped it focus on digitization and professional and human development. He is proud of helping take Atlas Copco Colombia to the highest level of the Colombian industry.

Can you provide an overview of the sectors you are tackling and your current objectives?
We have been a part of the Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela region for the last 35 years. Our core business is industry, though mining and construction have also been growing rapidly. In some countries such as Chile, our main business is mining, though in others mining is still in early stages. We are bringing our customers something called sustainable profitability. We want to provide our customers with peace of mind. We have worked hard in R&D to develop one of the most sustainable products worldwide. Our products for the medical industry add value for our customers, though we are also in assembly, food and beverage, textile, and manufacturing. Every car produced worldwide has USD2-3 of Atlas Copco equipment. We have been trying to adapt that concept in the Colombian industry to provide added value that changes the technology. It is important for us to be the partner of choice with a greater focus on quality. Beyond that, we want to provide the entire scenario of products for our customers. We have many products, but want to concentrate on the sustainable profitability concept.

What is your main competitive advantage?
It is an extremely competitive world. We want to provide cheaper and faster options to generate savings for our customers. If we reduce the cost of energy in our plant, then we can reduce production costs and become more competitive. For the textile industry in Europe or the US, its main competitor is Asia. The best way to compete with those markets is by boosting efficiency. At present, we are producing nitrogen and oxygen with the highest standards worldwide. It is safe, cheap, and fast.

How do you maintain industrial growth by ensuring an environmentally friendly service?
It is part of our job to teach the market. If something launches in Germany, tomorrow it will be here. The Colombian market is hungry for new developments. Our mission is to teach clients how to use new technology. We are building a new standard in the industry. If we educate our clients to be more environmentally friendly, we can establish new standards in the industry. The Colombian market is adapting quickly to these new technologies.

What new products have potential in the Colombian market?
We have seen many different dimensions, not merely products but also services. Two years ago, we introduced a concept known as the 'air plan,' which is the same concept as paying for electricity and water. I sell customers the air they need in their plant, while all the maintenance is in our hands. It is a holistic product, with great acceptance in the Colombian market. We launched it in Medellín, and there is interest from companies like Eternit or Tostado. This is an extremely huge project. We provide a service for 24 hours. We were the first to introduce this comprehensive concept in the market, which in the end saves our clients a large sum of money. We can adapt our product to the specific needs of customers, as it is fairly flexible.

The industry in Colombia is expected to expand due to new incentives. What main opportunities does this bring to your company?
The global economy is having a tough moment, though Colombia continues to be an attractive market. We have started a transformation in the so-called 'orange economy,' and we can become a key player for the transformation. We have some areas to improve, like security, though the country is on the right path. The main burden at the moment are taxes and the difficulty of setting up a new company. Colombians have an entrepreneurial mentality. Young people create new products and companies, and the recent tax reduction will play a key role. We have to become more agile in digital areas. We need to improve in creating companies and have to be more attractive to bring in investors. I see many opportunities in industry and exports like textiles, the orange economy, and digital media. Mining was our most important market, though industry is growing, and Colombia has become a hub of sorts for the Atlas Copco market. Our market is larger than Argentina, Venezuela, or Peru. Colombia is the most important Latin American country not in terms of revenue, but potential.

What are your perspectives for Atlas Copco in Colombia?
We are a professional company, have an excellent position in the market, and are proud to showcase the latest technologies and provide great services and different solutions for our customers. We are working hard to establish an engineering company to support our clients. The goal is to expand our office, which is embedded in our customers' facilities.