THE BRASS TAX

Peru 2015 | ENERGY & MINING | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Christopher Varas Obando, General Manager of Grupo Vivargo, on the company's portfolio, changing mineral prices, and a possible international expansion.

Christopher Varas Obando
BIOGRAPHY
Christopher Varas Obando graduated from the Universidad Catolica Santa Maria in Arequipa, Peru, after studying Business Administration, and is a successful entrepreneur in the business of heavy machinery rentals for mining and construction in Lima. He is the General Manager of Grupo Vivargo, leading the top management team of the company as part of the third generation of the family business. Grupo Vivargo started its operations in 1948 with his grandmother, followed by his father and now the children, with Christopher the oldest of the sons. Grupo Vivargo is the leader company that provides the service of renting an extensive pull of specialized machinery. He is passionate about cranes, and has taken a number of training courses at the Crane Institute of America and JLG training center, for the line of all JLG products.

What prompted the company to diversify its portfolio?

We have recognized the need of the market and clients to establish a total service solution for the development of a project. We needed to provide such solutions, and we did, which aids us to perform nationally. This development opens the doors to foreign investment and strengthens Peru's competitiveness as a mining country. However, more can be done, and we have not yet reached our full potential. We saw great opportunities within the mining industry and the several projects the industry had lined up. We wanted to meet its demand for equipment and machinery. That pushed us to diversify our business operations. We are a pioneering company; we imported technologically advanced equipment and machinery into Peru that was previously unavailable in the country.

Has the fluctuation of mineral prices impacted the company?

We have a presence in all the main mining projects in the country and our operations do not depend primarily on market mineral prices. There are several projects that have slowed down over the last year; however, all of these are still in development, and we are proudly part of that. The decision of the company was to expand to other markets, such as energy, oil and gas, and construction, with the same vision of providing the high quality service we provide in mining sector. Our company has diversified. Today, we also have presence in other countries like Chile, Ecuador, and Bolivia, among others. We aim to diversify our global operations and ensure our fleet is available across these regions.

What role does the mining industry have to play in the Peruvian economy?

Peru is a mining country, being the main venue of money insertion for the country. The government has a strong will to diversify the economy, which is understandable. However, the mining industry is the largest wheel that enables the smaller sectors to also advance and develop. Thanks to the mining industry, the country can invest in road and logistics infrastructure, as well as other sectors as the energy industry, tourism, and agriculture, and others. The mining industry has not yet reached its full potential.

How has the company expanded its international profile?

Foreign markets offer plenty of opportunities and when we decided to move internationally, we first launched operations in Chile. We decided to offer the same services there, based on the idea that the main foreign companies operating here were also there. We took similar steps in Ecuador and Bolivia. Our main advantage is that we have a strong brand, Grupo Vivargo had built a name in the industry and our clients recognized us as a dependable company. This helped us to enter new markets in which international mining costumers are the same in Peru. Additionally, when looking at the possibility of going internationally, we have considered our neighbor countries due to the fact that we manage heavy machinery and equipment, and proximity is an important factor when it comes to transporting our fleet. We see Colombia and Brazil as our next steps.

How would you see the company further developing in the future?

Our main focus is to maintain our brand as strong and dependable as it is now. For that, we are in constant development, learning and growing every day, strengthening the brand with solid structures. We have already achieved very good milestones and reached our yearly goals. I can proudly say that at Vivargo we are a family.