AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER

Costa Rica 2018 | TRANSPORT | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Alonso Bogantes, General Manager of MATRA, on enlarging its footprint, meeting the expansion in Caribbean demand, and the recipe for lasting client relationships.

Alonso Bogantes
BIOGRAPHY
Alonso Bogantes holds an MBA in finance from INCAE Business School prior to which he obtained a bachelor’s in business administration from the University of Central Florida (UCF). His areas of professional expertise include strategic planning, new business development, corporate and investing finance, real estate investment banking, and mergers and acquisitions, among others. Apart from being General Manager at MATRA, he was CFO at Aldesa Corporación de Inversiones (ALDESA) and administrative manager at Merck Sharp & Dohme, MRL.

What has happened in MATRA during the last year?

We added new brands to our portfolio, the most important of which is Volvo Trucks. Volvo owns Mack Trucks, and we have represented Mack since 1953. This expansion of our portfolio in the trucks business enlarges our focus and footprint. There are Volvo products that will allow us to compete in new market segments, such as buses, which signals another expansion opportunity for us. We already represent Zhong Tong buses, a more economic product compared to Volvo, a higher-end one.

Why is it important to diversify your portfolio of brands?

It is important to add value, but it is more important to have the critical mass to be able to compete in each sector. MATRA is undeniably the largest dealer of heavy machinery in the country, and the only way we can justify our investments in the last few years is by having different products for the industries we cover. Being the largest dealer means our customers expect more from us: more presence throughout the country, more inventory, and shorter lead times. It also means investing in resources so that our employees are better trained and able to solve problems quickly. In contrast, we could concentrate on certain industries and try to just perform those, which means having a smaller company. We chose to have a larger company with a larger footprint.

What is the importance of secondary cities such as Limón?

Limón will likely be the fastest-growing area outside of San José in the next few years. There will be exponential growth because of the dynamics of the logistics industry. As a result, other sectors of the local economy will grow, especially those related to primary services. Executives will start living there; there will be a need for more hotels, restaurants, schools, and so on. The government will have to look into the logistics and infrastructure. The other area that will continue to grow in the north is the surrounding areas of San Carlos. We also see big expansions of business in the agricultural and agro-industrial sectors. It is already a dynamic area, and primary services should also continue to grow.

How do you see this infrastructure problem evolving in the future?

I do not see it evolving, since nothing has happened in the last 12 months. It is a matter of analyzing what has happened and how we incorporate those facts into our budgets. On a positive note, we hope the 57 agreements achieved by the nine main political parties become a reality. In the end, whoever wins the next election will have to work toward accomplishing those agreements. For the first time in 20 years, political parties are agreeing on common subjects and concentrating on ways to execute what the country needs. One of those subjects is infrastructure. We all agree we need to build more roads and finally solve the problem of mobility, especially within metropolitan areas. We hope the next government will be able to do it.

Has the boom in construction impacted MATRA's business?

It has positively impacted the industrial part of our business in particular. We sell power generation, and every building built needs a power generator. The services and specialized manufacturing industries are growing, especially those related to free zones. Forklifts and power generation play an important role in these sectors. If the pace at which the country constructs buildings and free zones was equal for roads, bridges, and dams, we would be in a great shape.

Why should customers choose MATRA?

We are the best at what we do. The relationship with our customers does not end when the equipment leaves our facilities; that is when it starts.