CONCRETE PLANS

Panama 2019 | REAL ESTATE & CONSTRUCTION | INTERVIEW

Hormigón Express is selling the essential ingredient that Panama's construction sector needs

BIOGRAPHY
Roberto Zauner is a civil and environmental engineer. He completed his first studies at Clarkson University, New York, in 1989. Upon returning to Panama he studied at the University of Santa Maria la Antigua, where he obtained a master's degree in business administration. In 1990, he began his career in the departments of quality control and factory operations at a concrete company. In 2000, in association with another engineer, Alfredo Fonseca Mora, he set up Hormigon Express.

How has the company evolved and grown its operations?

We started in 2000, a year when economic growth was falling, by establishing our first plant in Colón. At that time, there were four concrete enterprises active in the industry. We started with a small operation in Colón. One of the big projects we were involved in was Multiplaza. Also, we were part of the Paitilla airport project. From 2003 to 2007, we saw sustained growth in the consumption of cement and concrete. Even in 2008, a fateful year for everyone, Panama continued to grow. Nowadays, we are still growing at an impressive annual rate of 5%. Our company has always been cautious, and we have the strength to endure times of adversity.

How are you expanding within Panama?

We have always had an interest in Colón, but started to grow toward La Chorrera and Chiriquí, meaning that we have the advantage of numerous plants. This allows us to compete over a wider geography.

What impact has that had on your fleet of trucks?

Concrete trucks are one of the most expensive assets and one that depreciates quickly. Therefore, you need trucks as close as possible to the point of use. That is why we have plants close to potential large volume construction projects. The growth of Panama has allowed us to grow.

Which sectors are you most active in?

One is the Free Zone, where the number of galleys built from 2003 to 2014 was enormous. Then, given the disarray of Venezuela and problems of Colombia, the number dropped notably but should recover over time. The infrastructural investment of the past five years assures us that Panama will remain the logistical hub of the Americas. The idea is for the railroad running from Chiriquí to continue to Costa Rica efficiently. Because of the number of ships that pass through here, the market for Central American and Colombian products grows tremendously, as no port in Colombia or Central America can match the volume of shipping seen in Panama.

How do you see your company in the future?

The future of concrete is linked to confidence levels in investment. We are not selling rice, beans, or meat, but a product that lasts. The world seems to be saying, “Panama is on the right track." And while 2019 will be a challenging year, I foresee a kinder 2020 given the new administration.