Next year is Canon's 50th anniversary in Panama. What are your reflections on this landmark and how it be celebrated?
Our reflection on this landmark is our commitment to continue with the development of new technologies, new business domains, new business models, and new lifestyles for our customers and partners. Our guidance behind the 70 years of Canon history is based on our corporate DNA, respect for human beings, emphasis on technology, and maintaining an entrepreneurial spirit. It has not been easy, and we have seen large and well-known companies disappear over time because they stayed behind changes; companies that adapt to business changes and listen carefully to the market and customers' needs are the ones that survive. We are not planning a major celebration, because we are moving into our new installation right now, in which we have invested tremendous amount of money to improve our efficiency in the workplace. We are in a new facility because we have been growing significantly and added new key staff. We also need to enhance our image improving our building and location. Our goal is completely to focus on satisfying our customers. We want our customers to come and see our machines and solutions for themselves.
To what extent have your sales activities been impacted by the economic climate in the region over the past year?
The economic climate is important in our life and in all business environments. The Panamanian economy has shown strong increases compared to the other countries in the Latin American region. As our economy is based on services due to our geographical position, what is happening in the rest of the world affects our business. Different external factors such as the slowdown in the economies of North America, Europe, China, and the rest of Asia, the exchange rates, and the slowing down in business of two major business partners in the Colon Free Zone, in Colombia, and in Venezuela, mean that trade and transit through the canal have been impacted negatively. All of these factors affected the business climate in our country. We are facing some internal issues that the government needs to address in order to guarantee continued economic growth, such as security, education, health, infrastructure, and transparent management of all government institutions in order to show transparency at all levels. This year our expectation is to grow our business and increase our operational efficiency. We are optimistic and are taking into consideration the new strategy of the government, which calls for executing more than 2,800 projects with an investment of $4.532 billion.
How does Canon foster the development of human capital in Panama?
Investing in training is one of our main strengths. Working on advocating our talent is one of the points where we pay a lot of attention. Developing new trends to improve productivity and reduce costs is what we seek with the solutions we offer to our customers, and this is the reason why we require constant training. When we hire, we are always looking for talented people with the right profile, and if we see improvement opportunity we do not hesitate to make the investment to improve the skills of our staff. We have our training program with our internal, well-known Canon Academy and we are constantly training our staff. Education is one of the main challenges for our government in Panama.
What are your goals and expectation for the year ahead?
Our goals and expectations are to be the number-one company in all product lines, and we want to achieve double-digit growth. We can create the best technology that can support businesses and people's lives. Our focus is on maintaining a win-win relationship with all of them. In the coming years, we will keep working with and growing our business partners and customers to continue, as indicated, our win-win relationship with everyone and contribute to society with our products.