"With Covid-19, it has become extremely challenging. 2020 will be a tough year for us and also for our customers and principals, but we believe that our way of operating, being agile, caring for our customers and keeping a constant dialogue with our principals, will allow us to grow significantly at the bottom line."
Following GTM’s completion of a number of acquisitions over the last years, what is your vision for the company as the new CEO?
In the last few years, we increased our footprint dramatically; we now have a presence in 11 countries in both industrial and specialty chemicals. For years we have been merging companies of very different cultures in different places, defining common working standards, processes and rules to comply with the most demanding regulations and safety procedures. We also expanded our portfolio in many segments. We have very good relationships with the companies that we represent, but this is not enough.
Our vision is to become the partner of choice for our customers, our principals and our employees. We are building engaged teams that will be strongly supported by processes and systems. Moreover, we are focused on building a closer relationship with our principals, based on constant feedback. The world is changing and demanding new chemistry and we will help to make this happen.
What are going to be the main corporate and operational highlights for 2020/2021?
We have improved significantly in the last few years, but now we need to move to a different level. Currently, we are restructuring our organization, following common sense to avoid disruption to our customers and principals with the goal to have a more efficient and disciplined structure, without losing the necessary flexibility and agility. Currently, considering the Covid-19 scenario, GTM has been working with shareholders to strengthen our cash flow and keep supporting customers in such a difficult moment
How do you read the poor or even negative economic growth figures in Latin America in 2019, and what is your expectation for this year?
Latin America has not been a lucky region recently, and the scenario was already very challenging last year and at the beginning of 2020. With Covid-19, it has become extremely challenging. 2020 will be a tough year for us and also for our customers and principals, but we believe that our way of operating, being agile, caring for our customers and keeping a constant dialogue with our principals, will allow us to grow significantly at the bottom line.
Which countries and sectors are driving growth for GTM at the moment?
Before Covid-19, we enjoyed reasonable growth in most of the countries, especially in Brazil, Mexico and Central America. After Covid-19, the Andean Region markets, where oil and gas is a significant component, became more challenging due to the extremely low price of crude oil. In spite of all these problems, our overall Latin America results between January and April were significantly better than in 2019. A lot of that has to do with some past investments that are maturing now, and with recent changes to our operations.
What is GTM’s current focus on specialty markets, and how has the company evolved to better serve this segment?
Year by year, GTM has been evolving in specialties, but not fast enough. Recently, we changed several aspects of our business, from changing our employees’ compensation to measuring the level of adoption of new products in a very strict manner. We constantly think about how to connect our traditional customers to new chemistry that will improve their business too. This is a significant mindset change.
Do you expect to see more consolidation in the Latin American chemical distribution business, and would GTM be open to purchase more companies?
Consolidation is a global trend in almost every market and chemical distribution is not different. In Latin America consolidation is not simple, as it is a market with significant volatility across the board and some players may be reluctant to participate in it.
As I always like to say, GTM is not a global company – GTM is a Latin American company. We are used to volatility and we enjoy the challenges of our region. Having said that, we believe that we are in a unique position to consolidate smaller competitors, especially in the Covid-19 scenario that has affected the cash flow of some of them.
Would you have a final message for the audience of Global Business Reports and APLA?
GTM and its shareholders acknowledge that the current market situation is very challenging for our customers, competitors and our principals, but we strongly believe that the current crisis will bring a lot of opportunities that, if faced with agility, flexibility and discipline, might be very fruitful. It is time to be calm and strategic and keep moving forward.