A LONG-TERM VISION

Mexico 2016 | CONSTRUCTION & REAL ESTATE | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Luis Rojas, General Director of Freyssinet, on building infrastructure, reduced government spending, and investing in the future.

Luis Rojas
BIOGRAPHY
Luis Rojas is a civil engineer with an honors degree from the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education. He received a postgraduate degree in structures from the ISBA, France. Rojas has 35 years of experience in engineering and the construction of bridges and other structures. He is the President of the XX AMIVTAC Board of Directors and is currently the General Director of Freyssinet de Mexico.

How has the company evolved since its incorporation and what role has the company played in the development of infrastructure in Mexico?

This year we celebrate our 50th anniversary. Freyssinet was incorporated by a group of foreign engineers arriving in Mexico to help the country build the needed infrastructure. When we first arrived we were here to assist Mexican companies with equipment to build bridges. Over the last half a century, our company has supported local constructors as well as those arriving in the country to build new infrastructure with new technologies patented by us and used worldwide. We help with the construction studies and designs; we help to improve construction systems and we help to implement latest innovations. We believe that all constructors are our partners, rather than our competitors. One of our main achievements has been the investment we have made in training, knowledge, security, applications, and productivity.

What have been the main challenges you faced when adapting new technologies to the Mexican market?

The main challenge has been to make sure we properly and successfully apply new technologies to our partner's and customer's needs, which is why we always put together a working team in order to make each single project a complete success and better understand the needs of each of our partners and customers. We also faced some challenges when trying to change the working culture of some companies, who valued a cheaper price over quality of the final product. In the end, something that at the beginning seems cheap can turn out to be the most expensive aspect. We always promote the idea that quality is the cheapest option. Over the years, we have become more Mexican and this helped us better understand the particularities of the local market.

How has the company been adapting to falling government spending on infrastructure projects?

We try to diversify our operations and bring new technologies in other sectors such as anti-seismic activities, oil and gas, etc. We also put greater effort in security after the latest events in Ecuador, as Mexico also has seismically active areas in the country. Finally, we also try to import more technology and know-how from Freyssinet, creating more synergies than we have currently. We also continue to invest in our staff; we currently have over 1,000 employees.

What major innovations do you bring to the Mexican market right now?

Apart from the anti-seismic technology, we are bringing innovation to the infrastructure repair and maintenance works, an area in which we have also increasingly focused our efforts lately. When a country reaches that stage that no more large transport and road infrastructure is needed, such as in many Western European countries, then you need to invest in maintenance of that infrastructure. Mexico still needs to invest a great deal in infrastructure, but as this industry grows at a fast pace, we want to be one step ahead. Also, because for Mexico it is extremely important to invest in current infrastructure such as sewerage systems, roads, bridges, buildings, cement warehousing, large warehousing infrastructure, and water deposits for example. It is extremely important to make sure Mexicans have a long-term vision when it comes to infrastructure. This is about investing in the future of the country and caring about it. I truly believe this new focus will help us diversify our business activity in Mexico and find new market niches.

What is your vision for Freyssinet in the next five years?

We would like to see a greater business diversification of the company in Mexico. We need to increase the services we offer as well as more actively reach out to the private sector. We want to further develop our own projects through new PPPs. We have the capability to offer more integrated services to PPPs and we want to do so in the near future. We will invest even more in training our people through the school and bringing in more new technologies.