Gustavo Rodríguez
Operations Director Mexico and Central America
Sumitomo Drive Technologies
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Innovative Power Transmission Solutions

Mon, 10/21/2013 - 15:26

Q: What are Sumitomo’s biggest competitive advantages, and how have they allowed the company to obtain 21% of the drive technology market?

A: We have become market leaders because of the relationships that we have created with OEMs, engineering firms and our distributors, who are all key players in our distribution channels. Sumitomo handles 70% of the OEMs’ business in the country, and these relationships are crucial for the growth of the company. Paying attention to our business partners in this way will help us to build healthier relationships and combining good relationships with quality products provides considerable advantages for making any business grow. I learned that it is necessary to be proactive and disciplined, to maintain good communication, good relationships and confidence. These qualities can help any company to stay ahead of its competitors.

Sumitomo has 23 years of experience in Mexico, having started operations in 1990 when there were still restrictions on foreign companies entering the country. Over the past decade, we started to organize the company and developed the engineering department, creating customer service and production managers. After these changes, the company needed to increase the size of its facilities by 100%, which was followed by the opening of a second facility in Mexico City. After that we continued to grow and we built the Guadalajara plant in order to accommodate our double-digit growth rate. After being promoted to General Manager, Sumitomo grew by 800% and became the number one supplier in Mexico, which was the company’s largest market after Japan. Mining is our second biggest market after food and beverage.

Sumitomo’s operations in Mexico have contributed to increasing confidence in Sumitomo worldwide. Our people in Japan never expected the Mexican branch of the company to reach its current size. Nine years ago I told the Japanese representative that my goal was to make the company grow to a size comparable to the size and market share we have achieved today. He was somewhat skeptical, but nowadays we have proved what can be done in Mexico with the right people. 

Q: How has Sumitomo’s range of products changed since you joined the company?

A: Sumitomo’s products can be used in both underground and open pit mining as the engines are used for conveyors, cranes, and pumps, among other types of machinery. Our product range has increased tenfold and has changed completely since the company started, and as a result we have a stronger presence in the market. New technologies and products are developed every two or three years.

Q: What are Sumitomo’s ambitions for expanding its presence and infrastructure in Mexico, in order to best service the industry?

A: Our plant in Mexico was upgraded in January of this year. We are opening a new facility in Hermosillo, in November 2013, and a second one in Guatemala. Thanks to its national distribution network, Sumitomo offers a wide variety of products that cover very specific industry needs, from 0.25hp to 500hp. The idea is to become the main supplier and service provider for junior mining companies from the beginning of their operations, satisfying the market needs through OEMs and engineering companies. Our main customers in Mexico are, among others, Minera Frisco, Peñoles, Grupo Mexico, Grupo Acerero del Norte, Minera Autlán, and ArcelorMittal, and mines such as Peña Colorada and Las Encinas, among others.

Q: How will the Mexican mining industry continue to contribute to the continued growth of the company?

A: The mining industry holds great potential for the company and we expect a 50% increase in our business in the coming five years. The opportunities are created by the opening of new mines and the fact that some customers own equipment that has been in use for over 20 or 30 years, performing maintenance and repair services on it by themselves. These are the opportunities that Sumitomo intends to use to drive its growth, offering better and more efficient solutions and incorporating the latest technology. The company’s main business is in Sonora, but given the importance of Sinaloa we are strengthening the northwestern region with more people, in addition to the help we get from local distributors that offer the right products, quality and inventory