Family Business Puts Customer Satisfaction FirstThu, 09/01/2016 - 22:00
Q: What are the advantages of being a family owned company?
A: The family business is run by six out of seven siblings, each performing different tasks within the company. In addition to our real estate activities, we have a construction company that takes care of Amistad’s operations and serves clients individually. Our shelter operations provide assistance to start-up programs. All three divisions fall under the Amistad umbrella. The company has been successful over the years with third-generation family members getting involved in operations.
There are few family owned and family operated companies in our segment and we believe that this offers a competitive edge over larger, more bureaucratic institutions. This has positively influenced Amistad’s relationships with its clients. They know the company’s philosophy will remain constant throughout their contact with us. In addition, the availability we offer is second-to-none. Clients can call us directly rather than a fund in Mexico City or New York. We have a history of over 40 years in the industry giving us stability and permanence.
Q: What are the main drivers for clients to begin operating in one of Amistad Industries’ parks?
A: We put our clients where they need to be. The company is not keen on entering urban areas. We prefer to stay on the outskirts of towns to facilitate logistics. Our infrastructure developments are obviously top class, but location is the deciding factor in our line of business, second to amenities. Additional services such as childcare, 24-hour security and sustainability generate added benefits to our operations and give us an edge over similar companies.
Q: What changes have you seen in client requirements over the last 20 years?
A: The quality of the end product has gone through the biggest changes in automotive. Clients in Mexico expect to receive the same quality of service they would in the US, Europe, Japan or Korea. Multimillion-dollar investments require quality infrastructure. The market’s standards have increased dramatically, and so have our clients' expectations. We have also seen Japanese and US industrial park developers entering the Mexican market, which has forced domestic companies to raise their standards.
Following the new Energy Reform, companies like Amistad can now supply customers with energy. Some issues have emerged that Amistad must clarify before moving forward as the Energy Reform’s secondary laws are still unclear and are hindering our efforts. Some European companies are presently offering partnerships with solar farm developments and although it makes financial sense for us to partake in this, Mexico’s legal framework prevents it. This is an interesting business opportunity for Amistad and clients are attracted to this type of service for the long term.
Q: What main national and international parameters you take into account for long-term planning?
A: The parameters are the same as 10-15 years ago. We need to make logistics as efficient as possible, which translates to easy highway access and proximity to airports. Infrastructure must be secured for energy and water supplies. Real estate developers must create a bond with local communities. If they are not on board it will raise red flags. The most important element in any operation is its workforce, so we must ensure the right talent and professional expertise are available locally. Therefore, we focus on cities where we can find a rising industrial culture.
When OEMs announce their plans to enter the Mexican market, real estate companies engage in a battle to extend their sphere of influence within a certain state. Before a decision has been made as to where they will establish their operations, we make an assessment and try to triangulate the geographical position.
Celaya, Guanajuato has multiple OEMs in the surrounding areas including GM, Nissan, Ford, Mazda, Toyota and BMW. Unless companies are Just-In-Time suppliers, there is no need for them to be right next door to OEMs. Saltillo, Coahuila is an example of how establishing an industrial park in the middle of their operations works effectively. Logistically and financially, we look for something in between.
Q: What are the most promising locations you are developing?
A: Amistad is starting its third industrial park development in the Apaseo El Grande, Celaya and Queretaro area. The Saltillo and Ramos Arizpe corridor is extremely interesting as it gives access to major markets like Monterrey and Mexico City while covering an important OEM region with companies such as GM, Chrysler, Freightliner and Fiat. Hidalgo is the next region that we plan to expand to. The state is pushing for investments and because it makes sense from a logistics standpoint. Its proximity to Puebla, Guanajuato, Mexico City and Veracruz will bring many interesting business propositions.
Our sights are also set on the south of Mexico. The federal government is promoting industrial developments in the states of Oaxaca, Chiapas and Veracruz. We have already evaluated certain cities in Chiapas and Veracruz and see tremendous potential in them. The Chiapas state government will offer large incentives to attract new companies, infrastructure has already been secured and labor costs are almost 25 percent lower than in the north. Even though logistics may seem troublesome, trucks can reach Mexico City in as little as five hours. Veracruz has an increasing need for warehouses and manufacturing facilities, which is a direct result of the Energy Reform.
Q: After your success in the automotive sector, is Amistad looking to expand to new sectors?
A: Sixty percent of our portfolio is directed at the automotive industry while the remaining 40 percent is mostly divided between the aerospace and electronics segments. We foresee an increase in the automotive industry’s dominance over our operations. There are multiple specialized areas in the sector. Allocating companies in the right region is of the essence.
To offset time constraints in automotive, we develop many standard spaces that are not tailored to specific clients but that comply with industry standards. We prepare ahead of time and build these facilities so companies can begin operations immediately.
We have improved our construction times and understand clients’ requirements as a result of ongoing communication. We can guarantee occupancy within five months, which is record breaking. This gives clients more than enough time to install their machinery and begin operations.
Amistad would also like to increase its portfolio and service the aerospace industry. The segment is growing steadily and opportunities emerge as we diversify. Our core business is and will remain automotive but based on projected double-digit growth I would predict that the logistics industry will surpass other sectors.
Q: To what extent do Amistad's clients return as repeat customers?
A: An estimated 70 percent of clients are new and 30 percent are returning customers. Client satisfaction is extremely important as those customers refer new business to us. Amistad’s existing client base is responsible for the company’s organic growth. Repeat business and referrals are extremely important for us.
Amistad will measure its success in 2016 by customer satisfaction. We have a strong relationship with all our clients and understand how important it is to make them feel comfortable and taken care of. Success could be measured in square footage and industrial park developments but keeping a clean record of accomplishment is much more important for our reputation. That is precisely why we consistently ensure our products and services are top quality.
We have programmed the construction of 1.5 million ft2 in 2016 in sites across the country to also expand in size. The company is preparing for further growth and we are excited about what the future will bring.