Feb. 1, 2015


Gustavo Iñurritegui

Ecuador

Gustavo Iñurritegui

Executive President, Andean Area of Franz Viegener (FV)

BIO

Gustavo Iñurritegui obtained his professional education at the Universidad Católica de Buenos Aires. He began his career in FV Argentina in 1984 at an entry level position, and gradually rose up through the ranks thanks to a combination of hard work and the will to do things better. In 1996 he came to Ecuador to help run the subsidiary there. In 2008, he was selected as successor to the Chief Executive Officer.

What is the significance of the Ecuadorian market for Franz Viegener (FV) as a group with a presence across Latin America?

FV Group has a major presence across all the major countries of Latin America, and it is divided into three parts: the plants in Argentina, which cover and service the MERCOSUR market, and which include all the countries bordering Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia, and, of course, Argentina itself; the plants in Ecuador, which service the Andean market of Ecuador, Colombia, Peru, Central America, and the Caribbean; and finally the plant in Brazil, which covers that market. The importance of Ecuador is its service to the Andean market, and our position as leader and sole manufacturer of faucets, toilets, and bathroom accessories. We also aim to become the market leaders in Colombia and Peru.

Over the past seven years, Ecuador has seen a marked economic transformation. Has that changed the significance of Ecuador for the company?

Since 2000 and the economy's dollarization, the role of Ecuador has been different. The company has been in Ecuador and the region for 37 years already. Over the years, Ecuador has become more relevant to the group. This relevance has been all the more important over the past five years due to the change in the productive matrix currently underway in Ecuador.

What part of production in Ecuador is reserved for the domestic market?

I am going to divide my answer into two parts. In terms of water management and faucets, 90% of the production is for Ecuador, and 10% is for the export market. In terms of toilets and accessories, the contribution to the commercial trade balance is even greater. In the toilet segment, 70% is for the national market, while 30% is exported.

How large is the Ecuadorean market for FV Group?

The group has annual revenue of $600 million, and the local operations in Ecuador represent 12%; therefore, approximately $70 million a year. The group has approximately 6,000 employees worldwide, and in our local operations, we employ around 1,200 people.

What would you say are the strengths of Ecuador as a manufacturing base?

First of all, I would highlight its geographic location at the center of the Pacific coast of Latin America, and second, its two great commercial neighbors, namely Colombia and Peru. Those two factors make it an interesting proposition.

What kinds of challenges have you faced in growing your operation in Ecuador?

One of the challenges is being able to conquer the Ecuadorean market with quality products, something that the country was not used to. The second challenge was the presence of the two great neighbors of Colombia and Peru. People usually opt for price, although price and quality do not go hand in hand. It has taken many years of work to provide technical support to constructors and installers. The experience of FV as a company has leant much support to this process.

What role do you see for FV in Ecuador's efforts to transform the productive matrix?

The change in the productive matrix for Ecuador is important, and we support the government's initiative. However, the importance of generating exports is greater than the importance of substituting imports. It is important for the government to monitor production quality and to ensure that it meets international standards. The local manufacturing system also needs to produce at reasonable prices. This is a highly complex and difficult issue, and demanding for the government in terms of the details and the changes that it implies. However, there should be coherence in the government's message. It is vital for the government to say that it wants to substitute imports, and also to act accordingly.