GOING FROM STRENGTH TO STRENGTH

Panama 2018 | ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Oswaldo Karam Maciá, President of Empresas La Floresta, on being recognized as the best holding company, the importance of organizational psychology, and performing the first robotic surgery in Latin America.

BIOGRAPHY

How did the idea for Empresas La Floresta come about?

The holding was created three years ago. We are the first holding company approved by the government of Puerto Rico. The insurance company was opened earlier in 2010 as it takes five years to modulate. We are an overcapitalized company, and the holding belongs to a trust for the security of all the stakeholders; KPMG, the superintendence of Puerto Rico, and the trusts audits us. If we make a significant movement of money, the trust regulates it. It is a system of protection for those insured, the regulatory entity, the employees, and the country.

How was 2017 for the company?

2017 was a great year. It is important to look at the technical utility in the balance of the company, and last year we had a technical profit of USD3.36 million. The accounting of an insurance company is different from the accounting of a typical business. Regarding the holding, we were the first hospital in Latin America to perform robotic surgery and offer treatments against AIDS. Similarly, we were the first hospital to be cataloged as a university in live kidney transplants. We have to sell people what they need, and we find market needs through studies and analysis. Primarily, we focus on chronic diseases and low economic classes. The second saving system in the world is insurance, and here our target is the lower class.

How have Farmagar and Clinisalud evolved?

Farmagar became the first nationwide distributor of medicine in Venezuela. We plan to open in San Miguelito as part the company's integration is already mature and generating profits. Clinisalud is a primary attention center and has a system of preventive medicine. 85% of primary health problems are solved without hospitalization, which has been a huge success for us; chronic patients are the ones we see most of. In the clinic of La Floresta, there are no longer instances of children born with HIV.

After many years in the sector running a holding of this caliber, what is the main challenge in Panama?

The challenge is to grow and decide if we want to grow in rankings by net prima or profits. We may not be a huge company but we have a high profitability. Moving forward, we see major opportunities in the hospital area. We are vertically integrated with a chemist, a distributor, a hospital, a pharmacy, and a primary care center; this makes us a self-sustaining business and, therefore, strong competitors.

Empresas La Floresta was recognized as the best holding company by Search the Elite in 2017. How was that process and what does it mean to you?

For me, it is an honor. Cambridge reviewed the nominees and spoke to me several times. They did not promote it in Panama, even though it was supposed to conduct a conference about the world economic system.

What are the objectives of the holding company for 2018?

We want to grow and consolidate in Puerto Rico, Panama, and Santo Domingo. Over time, we have reinvented ourselves to adapt to difficult economic cycles. For example, we hired a large Mexican consortium that is responsible for recruiting and organizational psychology. Today in an interview, companies have to tell the future employee how far they can go in the company, what are the projected goals, and ask if they are willing to follow that path to grow together with the company. This is one of the most difficult businesses in the world, and it takes five years to mature; therefore, it is necessary to establish a solid base and excellent time management.