Carlos Sierra
Director General
View from the Top

Positive Expectations for Automotive and Construction Sectors

Wed, 05/08/2019 - 09:19

Q: How has Kuraray’s entry to Mexico altered its game plan in the country and its relationship with distributors?

A: Kuraray is a Japanese company founded over 90 years ago. Originally, the company was focused entirely on Asia, but it is now a global business with a variety of products in the markets of specialty chemicals, fibers, faux leather and dental products, among many others. Most of the Latin American subsidiaries, including Mexico, opened in June of 2014 after the company completed the purchase of DuPont’s Glass Laminating Solutions and Vinyl businesses.
Having a subsidiary in Mexico offers interesting possibilities for Kuraray. When a company does not have a local subsidiary in the country, it has to depend on third-party distributors with goals that may not be completely aligned with that of the company. Our distributors’ main focus is profitability and the sale of different products that could act as competition. Part of our business strategy in Mexico has been to maintain our current relationships with our distributor network and analyze where they continue to add value to our operations. In the past, distributors helped us with import and storage but now we can do that through Kuraray Mexico. 
Mexico offers attractive opportunities for a company like Kuraray. Geographically, it is next to our biggest client, which helps logistically. We have a skilled workforce and a network of free-trade agreements with several countries and regions. 

Q: Where does Kuraray see the best opportunities to grow in the Mexican market?

A: We have identified the automotive and construction industries as our largest opportunities. Mexico is the world’s sixth-largest car manufacturer and the third-largest exporter. Manufacturing and exporting at such high levels is possible because the industry has organized productive chains intended as long-term investments. 
Mexico will continue to solidify its role as an exporter. There are many countries capable of buying Mexican products, not only the US and Canada. We have to take advantage of the country’s free-trade agreements with other Latin American countries too. 
Q: Does Kuraray have any plans to expand its Mexican subsidiary and establish manufacturing operations? A: Although we do not have manufacturing facilities in Mexico, Kuraray is always looking for opportunities to grow. We have finalized the purchase of Calgon Carbon Corporation, an activated carbon company with a strong presence in North America. In 2015, Kuraray bought Plantic, which manufactures polymers derived from cornstarch, and in 2012 Kuraray bought MonoSol, a manufacturer of water-soluble film. 
Q: How does Kuraray work to position its brand in the market and among its clients?

A: The company’s focus has always been on the client and in Mexico, our growth has been extraordinary. In 2017, Kuraray Mexico experienced the largest growth in Latin America. We have very successful products, such as SentryGlas, which experiences double-digit growth every year in the country. We are doing things right and we are growing. Mexico accounts for a small percentage of Kuraray Group’s sales. However, the country continues to grow its wide range of products. At the same time, we must standardize processes and unify our different business units with the Kuraray culture. 
Q: As a chemicals company, what strategy is Kuraray following to reduce its environmental footprint?

A: To undertake companywide environmental conservation activities, Kuraray established the Environmental Conservation Working Team (WT) and Global Warming WT within the Corporate Social Responsibility Committee. These teams promote measures to counter global warming, manage chemical substance emissions and ensure the beneficial use of waste. Our goal to improve the environment and positively impact people’s lives with our technology. Kuraray has taken many steps to diminish the negative effects our industry may have on the environment and the communities where we live and work.