FINDING YOUR INNER SHANGRI-LA

Panama 2018 | FINANCE | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to William R. Herron Jr., President & CEO of Panamericana de Avalúos, on its special place in the corporate community, meeting targets in a very timely fashion, and the pitfalls of election years.

 William R. Herron Jr.
BIOGRAPHY
William R. Herron Jr. holds a degree in mechanical engineering from Villanova University in Pennsylvania. He is an expert appraiser both in real estate and in machinery and equipment with over 35 years of experience. He is a member of institutions such as the International Real Estate Institute, the National Association of Real Estate Appraisers, the Panama Institute of Valuations and Expertise (IVAPPAN), the Panama Chamber of Construction (CAPAC), the International Who’s Who of Professionals, the Panamanian Association of Real Estate Brokers and Developers (ACOBIR), and the National Cargo Security Council (NCSC).

How did the company perform in 2017 and the start of 2018?

If we were to compare 2017 results with the previous year, we would have to admit that 2017 was not as good, at least in part because 2016 was an excellent year—our best in a decade. The conditions of 2016 were unique, while the activity in the last quarter of 2017 saw a notable slow down. We are not optimistic for this years' real estate market outcome, particularly at the high end, which in 2016 experienced strong and sustained demand. The short-term outlook does not look enticing either, since the coming year is a general election year, which negatively impacts economic activity.

Why is Panamericana de Avalúos the only company whose reports are accepted by all banks?

Our objectivity, sense of responsibility, professionalism, respect, integrity, credibility, and long-term commitment to our clients and the market we serve are important factors that have enabled us to enjoy and maintain a special relationship with the banking community. After almost 36 years of continuously serving the market, we have been very fortunate, and we are proud of the fact that we have earned a special place in Panama's corporate community. We always meet our delvery times.

What clients do you target?

There is an old saying in Spanish that translates into something like “every house is one man's castle." For us, the same goes with our clients—no matter how big or small. We serve every client with the same enthusiasm and professionalism. We also serve government agencies, though not on a regular basis. Considering the nature of the services we offer, we participate regularly in mergers and acquisitions, where discretion is not only expected but mandatory.

Is the appraisals market well covered in Panama, and do you plan to expand into other markets?

The market is well covered. Nevertheless, there is a constant flow of newcomers venturing into the market, hoping to get a piece of the pie. This creates a lot of pressure, urging you to stay at the top of your game. As a consequence of the existing conditions, we are constantly looking for new strategies as well as implementing new procedures in order to keep us at the forefront of the market. We are determined to maintain the place we have earned in the market and not to miss any opportunities.

Can you elaborate on the company's CSR initiatives?

We are conscious of what we have achieved and extremely grateful for what, with the help of God, family, and partners, we have been able to accomplish. Therefore, we strongly believe that the least we can do in return is to provide help and assistance to the community, especially to those less fortunate. As a corporation we are strongly involved in several social programs such as Casa Esperanza, an NGO working to keep young boys and girls off the streets while providing them with education and special skills so they can support themselves in the near future. We also contribute to Panama's Special Olympics chapter and several other NGOs working with youth. Once a year over the past 20 years, we also choose a school located in rural areas on the outskirts of the city to celebrate Christmas with children, teachers, and parents.

What is your main goal and priority for the year ahead?

The outlook for the next 12 months does not look very promising because it is a political year and, historically, economic activity during this period slows down. Constituents seem tired and upset with our political leaders, and many believe it will be a tough political campaign. The China factor will also be an important piece, though our relationship is unlikely to be the Shangri-La many believe it will be.