RAISING THE ROOF

Costa Rica 2019 | REAL ESTATE & CONSTRUCTION | INTERVIEW

Grupo Edica depends on its brand name to succeed in a close-knit country where word of mouth is important.

José Miguel Brenes
BIOGRAPHY
José Miguel Brenes is General Manager at Grupo Edica, a company with offices in Costa Rica and Nicaragua with 61 years of experience in the execution of infrastructure projects. Brenes has been in the construction and real estate development business for over 15 years. An industrial engineer, he also has an MBA from The University of Notre Dame and an AMP degree from the University of Chicago.

What is the current state of the sector?

2018 was a great year for us; our company exceeded its goals for the year. There is a great deal of uncertainty for 2019 because of the fiscal situation in the country. The government has many projects in the pipeline, and we are optimistic that 2019 will be a great year for the sector. We have many ongoing and future projects and a solid pipeline of projects.

What main infrastructure projects will be developed, and where can the private sector collaborate?

There are many projects in the infrastructure sector, such as roads and bridges. In our sector, there are hospitals and some other projects, and the government has to work on the situation. With the fiscal situation, the private sector is the one that is initiating projects. In the commercial sector, private companies need to be careful as well because there are many projects. There is always an opportunity in housing.

What are the main priorities for today?

Our biggest priority is to sustain growth and overcome the size limitations of the Costa Rican market. We have offices in Nicaragua, and the situation there is difficult currently. We have plans to look overseas and open an office in another country in two or three years; however, we are focusing on our local projects such as the airport expansion and new congress building, as well as a factory for Coca-Cola.

How is EDICA positioned in terms of market share, as well as public perception?

Market share is hard to say, because there is a great deal of informality in the sector. Taking everything into account, we are at 4-5%. We do not participate in every project. In terms of public perception, there is no other construction company in the country that has more experience in what we do, not including infrastructure. In 61 years, we have not delivered a project late or gone to court with a client. In a small market like Costa Rica, this is important, because everyone knows everyone. We have repeat customers with whom we negotiate directly. This is our main advantage: our name and our brand.

What does it mean to be a part of every Costa Rican's life?

Sometimes when we present the company, people say they did not know we built the children's hospital or all the phases of the airport. It is an ongoing effort to be everywhere and get involved. This is something for which there is a great deal of opportunity. We have a social responsibility program, and in 2018 we worked on housing projects for the poor in partnership with other companies. We also have health initiatives and a program through which we donate scholarships related to our work in the sector. We try to do a major social responsibility project and two or three smaller projects every year. In terms of our employees, we have plans and scholarships to help people develop within the company.

What roles do your certifications play when presenting yourself for a possible partnership?

It is extremely important because the sector is all about standards. We have 1,200 workers here, not including sub-contractors, and 25 different workstations. Certifications give us standards all over the company. It gives our customers peace of mind to know that everything we do is documented and according to standard processes and our certifications are renewed every year. It gives us not just periodic updates on what we are doing but also greater confidence. We do all of our projects the same way and follow the same procedures.

What are your expansion plans?

We are still defining our plans, though they include finding a local partner. In South America, projects are much bigger than what we do here. When we went to Nicaragua, we did it by ourselves with no local partner. If we decide to enter South America, our intention is to find a local partner.