Sustainability: a Gold MineBy Alejandro Enríquez | Mon, 04/27/2020 - 13:13
Q: In 2016, 60 percent of Amistad Industrial Developers’ (Amistad) portfolio was focused on the automotive industry. How has this number evolved?
A: The automotive sector remains a key industry in Mexico but today, other industries like appliances and pharma have caught our eye. We have been trying to diversify, but in the northern states where we operate and in the Bajio region, the automotive industry is still booming. The automotive industry represents more than 70 percent of our portfolio and we have only achieved diversification in 25-26 percent of our portfolio.
Q: What lessons has Amistad learned since its listing on the Mexican Stock Exchange (BMV)?
A: Our founder, Jesús María Ramón, wanted to introduce innovation and open the company to new markets. This was when Infrastructure and Real Estate Trusts (Fibras) were launched in the country. Amistad has participated in this financial tool since 2013 and we started wondering if that expertise could help us get into Development Capital Certificates (CKDs). This was a long process that took more than two years. It was truly a challenge for the company because we came under public scrutiny. At the end of the day, Amistad fulfilled the requirements and now we have an opportunity to reach a wider range of clients. We started working with CKDs in April 2018 and we are now close to our fifth project.
Our growth started to slow down in 2018, especially because of all the uncertainty generated by the NAFTA negotiations. However, a number of German companies kept growing, leading to many expansions, new projects and a lot of movement at the border and in states such as Coahuila and Nuevo Leon, Sonora and the Bajio region.
Q: How are you working toward the goal of becoming both energy producers and consumers?
A: We have been exploring energy sustainability issues for a few years. Our latest project in the Bajio will be the first one in the region to use cogeneration. This offers more profitability to companies, better energy rates and cleaner energy.
Q: How important is sustainability for Mexican companies?
A: Today, the mindset of most developers has changed and it is more common to bet on sustainability, not only through marketing but in real terms. Our project in the Bajio region was the first water-sustainable industrial real-estate project in the region. When building the project, CONAGUA asked us for our water discharge permission and we told the commission we were not going to discharge it but reuse it. Afterward, we received recognition for our sustainability actions at the state and federal levels. Since 2012, not a single cubic meter of water has been discharged to federal canals from our warehouse. We were the first warehouse in the country to achieve this.
We also developed drip lines for watering green areas and installed led luminaires. Though the investment is high, it is worth the effort and Amistad is betting on that. We also rescued more than 18,000 maguey plants in the area. One day a worldwide CEO came to visit our warehouse and told us he was surprised at what he was seeing in Mexico. After visiting 12 facilities in the country, he decided to stay with us.
Q: How can the Bajio cope with the number of companies coming to the region?
A: When Amistad arrived 18 years ago, we established in an industrial zone where there were only 14 developments, most of them owned by the government. In 2003, Guanajuato Puerto Interior was born. It was practically empty for more than nine years and today, it is a success. Previously, all kinds of companies were coming to the state, but we now have the luxury of choosing our customers. If a company that consumes large amounts of water comes to us, we can say no.
Our ideal customer profile is an AAA-rated company. About 90 percent of our client portfolio is made up of transnational companies that are committed to the environment and those that build a strong production chain. For example, at our Bajio complex, we have the first Turkish automotive company in the country, along with Volkswagen, Audi, Chrysler and Mercedes-Benz suppliers.
Q: What are your expectations for both the infrastructure and automotive industries for the short and mid-term?
A: All the trade agreements the country has with other nations provide Mexico with stability and keep it open to other markets. Growth will be steady and regular due to the constant investment of OEMs and suppliers from many countries outside the NAFTA region. Moreover, unions in Mexico provide a more stable and reliable working environment nationwide.