What were your major accomplishments in Colombia in 2017?
WAGNER Domínguez Fortunately, we were successful there in 2017. We exceeded our budget expectations in terms of sales and operating revenues, and it was a great year in terms of consolidating the strategy we defined three years ago for Colombia. Our sales increased by around 15% and the construction sector by around 3.5-4%; therefore, we had great results in 2017. We did great work and saw growth in the new facilities and modernization markets. We are also working on the development and implementation of new standardized solutions for partial upgrades and complete replacements that allow us to cover practically the entire modernization sector with achievable solutions organized by our salespeople, which in turn can be executed accurately by our engineers in Colombia during the order phase, customer satisfaction is our number-one priority.
ANDRÉS RAMÍREZ BUITRAGO We expected some drops in the market; however, it was not as large as we expected. When we formulated our business plan for 2017, we projected a 10% reduction in sales. Our business is based on the Japanese calendar that runs from April to March. From April to September 2017, we sold 10% more units than we expected. Our targets are high-end buildings, and in Bogotá we have few projects in those buildings. Construction in small and medium-sized cities is not as large as Medellín, Bogotá, Barranquilla, or Cali. Construction in Bucaramanga fell significantly as well for offices and high-end residential projects. The main market that is growing is the middle market. The total demand in Colombia is more or less similar to 2016, though the units are located in the middle to low market.
What initiatives is the company taking in order to be more sustainable?
WD This is part of the Schindler strategy worldwide. Now, all the products we offer for new installations and for modernization projects have technology that supports sustainability in some way. Year after year Schindler obtains patents for new solutions, products, and components that we use in our escalators and elevators. Some 80% of our elevators are recyclable. In high-rise buildings, our elevators turn off when there is not much foot traffic. Another aspect in which we are contributing is our port system, which generates the most efficient traffic management in buildings with high populations and allows more people to be transported on fewer trips, thereby consuming less energy.
ARB A decade ago, Japan introduced eco-changes and initiated changes to the production line to be more sustainable. It sought to make equipment last a longer time, making our lines more efficient. We are also significantly reducing our power consumption by 25-30% compared to the previous model via a PM-Moto permanent magnet motor, the most efficient power supply reduction. For elevators, we install PCNV, which can generate energy to the building. In our factory, we are changing many of our processes and taking better care of the systems we have in place. The efforts began in Japan, though companies all over the world are working to be more eco-friendly.
What are your main targets and goals in Colombia for 2018?
WD We need to reconsider our internal procedures to improve our market share by our goal of 5%. The construction industry may be impacted in 2018, and this means we could see the market go down in 2019. The construction industry waited on the outcome of the elections before deciding on what it will invest and continue to build in the coming year. We are launching worldwide the Schindler Ahead, which is the internet for elevators and escalators, offering fully digital solutions, opening doors to multiple possibilities, and generating advantages for our maintenance customers that were difficult to imagine before.
ARB It is difficult for us to compete with price; therefore, we want to compete in service. We have 1,200 people and almost 10,000 units under our care. We hire people every year and must train them to the highest standard. In 2017, we plan a great deal of material to train people in order to standardize the process. We are the only elevator company with a factory in Colombia. We have a training center in Medellín and are working on plans to open a training center in Bogotá. We are in discussion with our headquarters on its location though we expect the training center to be completed in 2019.