THE SECRET TO SUCCESS

Panama 2019 | FOOD & AGRICULTURE | INTERVIEW

A stern commitment to challenging locales to operate a business in is one of the best ways of generating customer and investor loyalty.

Abdel Torrez Díaz
BIOGRAPHY
The General Manager at Riegos de Chiriquí, Abdel Torrez Díaz, holds a degree in agricultural engineering from the Agricultural School of the University of Lavras in Brazil.

What have been some of your achievements in the last 30 years?

We have been learning about new opportunities to do business and keep growing in sales. The region is focused on strengthening the agricultural sector. The company has formed key partnerships over the years. Exploiting that win-win social relationship is important and it causes other companies to want to do the same, creating more competition and opportunities. We feel satisfied as a national company because our company was able to access the private tender of Del Monte for the economic reactivation of Barú. This means that technical training has become a necessity. It is necessary that individuals are in line with the latest technology because that allows us to compete globally.

How has your business portfolio impacted your operations?

When the company was founded, we worked extensively with companies and suppliers of sprinkling equipment, drip equipment, and valves in Israel. Subsequently, with globalization, we started to work with companies in Italy. At present, our main suppliers are in Spain, the US, and Israel. One of our successes is that we have learned to manage and optimize our supply chain. We have been able to optimize freight rates and orders, and this has made it easier for us to compete better with affordable prices. We have to thank international suppliers because some have worked with us for more than 25 years.

How has the company's experience translated into growth?

Of the companies that sell and supply the same services, we are the only one with a branch outside the province for 15 years. The branch is located in the city of Chitré, where there is more need for irrigation. We have remained there, and there have been sacrifices, but it has been worth it. In addition, this inspires the loyalty of clients and investors because we are there every day for many years. They see seriousness and commitment, which generates loyalty.

Are you planning to expand internationally?

In Central America, we have plans to expand into Costa Rica and Guatemala. Nicaragua has potential, but its political conditions force us to be careful. The same is true for Cuba. We will always consider these countries because we see potential in them. In fact, since we are partners with the main irrigation manufacturers in the world, we can establish a presence in every market.

How do you diversify and innovate?

The main niche of the company is agriculture and livestock, but we have also been a key part of every megaproject in Panama. This includes supplying materials for the expansion of the Canal and Puente Centenario. This makes the difference. For example, when the mining industry was peaking, we sold a significant quantity of the geomembrane used to make water reservoirs. Geomembrane is also used in mining to make the reservoirs where the treated products go. Our success is in undertaking and innovating products that have multiple uses. This keeps the company alive and maintains the loyalty of the people. It is an integration of entrepreneurship and innovation, though the human part plays an equally important role.

What are some of your CSR initiatives?

We always support students, especially those from the Zamorano University of Honduras, University of Chile, and University of Panama. Our focus is on hiring young graduates and helping them learn. This is something we have been doing for over 25 years. In addition, we receive engineering students from Universidad Tecnologica, Universidad Latina, and other universities.

What are the goals of the company for 2020?

We want to grow our sales and expand. The development of the Barú area is a reality, and that puts us in a favorable economic situation. With the new government, many works related to rural infrastructure such as galleys, irrigation systems, irrigation districts, and communication routes will be tendered.