SECURITY INDUSTRY: 1.8% OF GDP

Mexico 2020 | TRANSPORT | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Daniel Espinosa Ávila, General Director of Serviseg, on the security market in Mexico, international expansion, and opening a new training center.

What is your perspective of the security market in Mexico?

I predict the industry to grow significantly, although today it represents 1.8% of GDP. Prevailing insecurity in the nation gives us a great business opportunity. And while it is sad to think that this reality spells growth potential, such is the situation. In the face of uncertainty, we will continue working and investing in Mexico, and we have to bet on the country. This is also what I know how to do in my country. This is not an industry one can readily transplant elsewhere. Many foreign companies that wanted to invest in this industry in Mexico have failed. And conversely, if we do not know the business elsewhere, I see no sense in looking further afield for now. One of our goals is to internationalize, but we have to consolidate in Mexico first. We do not know what will happen, and without understanding the government strategy, it is difficult to continue selling to the state. We therefore continue working with the private sector.

How has the change of administration impacted your business?

For us, it has been difficult given the lack of clarity on how it will work now. We do not understand the government's perspective and have made the decision to shelve our business with the government until we have a clearer perspective. We are now focused more on the private sector as a result and are merely completing preexisting public sector contracts.

In which sector have you seen the most demand?

Our strong point is airports and airlines, which represents 80% of our portfolio. The mining industry has grown and has sought our assistance, as has the industrial sector. It operates on regulations different from those applying to airports, and the onus is more on attention on people and the prevention of accidents. In mid 2018, we also started working with certain mines in Ciudad Obregon with ArcelorMittal, where we began with a project to improve safety. We did a study of what we could improve and started what has become a very successful project in September.

What are your international expansion plans?

We have been looking to expand for four or five years, though we must first consolidate in Mexico. I personally began to explore potential expansion possibilities, visiting the US, but I came up against barriers to entry that were not easy to avoid. An American partner with experience in the sector is required, which can complicate matters. Then I started exploring South America. I liked the prospect of Panama, which is experiencing healthy growth. We started activities there with training and registered interest in airport issues. We subsequently established a joint venture. In 2019, we did nothing because we focused on celebrating 25 years in business. For 2020, we want to revisit the market and assess where the opportunities for us lie.

Among the lessons learned in the security market, what are the most common mistakes that companies make?

One of the most serious problems that I see happening is the lack of training. If companies do not train people who serve customers, they will look elsewhere as their needs are not being met. We train people based on customer needs. Airports have specific training because they operate according to international regulations, while the mining industry requires separate training altogether. One projects that is close to being realized is a training center where we will train not only Serviseg employees, but also external individuals.

When do you plan to open the center?

Today, we are operating with Serviseg people because we can only train our own employees, having yet to obtain certification to train others. In 2019, we received National Council of Standardization and Certification of Labor Skills (CONOCER) certification enabling us to become an evaluation center and are working to establish a laboratory. I anticipate its launch in February 2020 at Mexico City airport, where we have offices.