How has Mario Hernández aligned itself with the generational renewal in human talent?
MARIO HERNÁNDEZ Everyone wants to be designers, and this sounds great. Everyone wants to do international business because they believe they will travel. Everyone wants to do that; however, when they leave universities, they do not know how to choose raw materials or liquidate a product. We created the Mario Hernandez Award 13 years ago as a result of this issue. We give two design scholarships from European design institutes and pay for everything. In 2019, we had more than 800 applications. These scholarships have served to change this mentality significantly.
Ramo has been in the market for 70 years. How have you impacted the lives of Colombians by contributing to the industry?
JAIME ECHAVARRÍA L. Ramo has maintained a Colombian flavor in all its products. There are many products in different fields, but they all have a common trait, which is the Colombian flavor. We try to stay loyal to this principle. We have three basic principles that are part of our products: quality, flavor, and freshness. Most of these products have limited shelf life, especially the sweet bread products. They usually have a lifecycle of 30-45 days, which is quite short. The freshness of our products is related to a technical variable, which means it remains in one's senses, and once they taste the product, they are willing to buy more. That has been the secret of the company throughout its development; in addition, the structure of the company is also an important part of our organization. We respect the families and people who work in the company. We have a saying: Ramo is love. We seek to transcend beyond our brand to be visible in events and family gatherings.
How can the Colombian industry develop leather goods further and continue to make progress in this sector?
MH What happens with leather goods is that either the products are cheap and low quality or extremely expensive and high quality. Everyone wants to work in leather goods because they believe the entry barriers are low. But that is not true. There are no raw materials in Colombia. The raw material is expensive. You cannot make high-quality leather goods with low costs because it is not well made. The problem is it is not handmade.
How do you plan to increase your distribution and penetration?
JEL We want to leverage our success with Chocoramo, though at the same time we are penetrating new distribution channels. Ramo was originally delivered to mom-and-pop stores; however, recently, we are exploring the possibility of other alternative channels. This brings challenges to the table because we want to ensure business is successful for all our partners. When one explores many channels, they may run into conflict of pricing in the market. We are currently right in the middle of an important shift. Since 2018, we have been changing our market strategy based on data about the buying pattern of our clients. We are segmenting our efforts in the way we reach the market.
What are your goals for the coming years?
MH We will progress slowly. As we are successful and different, we will move forward. You must work hard on that. In products, differentiation, service, quality, and people all matter. I am interested in being the best. I am not interested in being the biggest because many people want to be the largest and lose money. That does not interest me. By being large, details are lost; life is made up of details. People today want small restaurants and specialized stores; they want to enjoy life more.
JEL We will be continuing on the international expansion track, though in 2020 we mostly want a consolidation in our market. In addition, we want to grow with our people in 2020, which is important to us. This is tough because showing off is not part of our culture. We want to make money, innovate, and let people work well but keep a low profile at the same time. It is also important for us to work on the inner structure of the company and have all the association plans in place for all the key positions in the company. We aim to have people working happily within the organization.