Toby Spoon
Vice President
Tecma Group
View from the Top

Permit Hunters and Community Managers

Tue, 02/20/2018 - 15:21

Q: How do you help companies working in Mexico manage community relations?

A: We are about 4 years old now and our story is going to end up being fairly unique. Tecma’s core business for the past 32 years has been in manufacturing along the border and in the interior of Mexico. We provide services to companies that want to come to Mexico. We get all the permits, we do all the customs paperwork, we find and manage all the human resources. We make sure projects comply with all environmental requirements and we assume all the risk in Mexico. Our promise to clients is that they will never end up on 60 Minutes because they forgot to do something and have gotten into trouble. I cannot tell you how many companies we have talked to that have tried to set up their rig only to have a community of people surround it and prevent operations, forcing these companies to actually shut down the entire operation because they did not know what to do. We can take care of every single aspect of that process so all the company has to worry about is what it is good at.

Q: What is Tecma’s core strength?

A: What we bring to the table is 32 years of working in communities and the human side of business. We have been very successful in every market that we have ever worked in and are really connecting and identifying with people in the workforce. A great deal of community interaction and development is required for projects to work. We have had to do that in new areas; setting up an operation, getting people to come to work and getting them involved in a manufacturing environment that they have never known. In every single market we have ever worked in, we end up with the lowest turnover rate. There is no secret. What we do is just very hands-on human interaction. We have already made forays into some of the communities in oil-producing areas of interest to us. I have started laying some of the groundwork; just making friends and meeting people. To launch operations in these areas a company needs allies if it does not want to stir up a hornets’ nest.

Q: What has been your experience in the licensing rounds?

A: Our first steps into exploration activities resulted from our partnership with a Texas operator that was introduced to us. We formed a partnership to enter the licensing rounds. Everybody knows that CNH was repurposed and grew in size, scope and authority almost overnight. It was a group of brilliant, dedicated young people who were doing their best to keep up. But for everybody involved in that whole initiative it was new and it was thrust on us as interested participants. As we went through this process ,we realized that there was a real niche opportunity because our strong suit is that we have had to secure permits at several different government levels that are almost unobtanium, as we say in the company.

Regarding our intention to begin exploration activities, it has been up and down. We have gotten close but the rules for participation keep changing. At one point and early on we were in the catbird seat because the Mexican government wanted companies to have a demonstrated track record of oil production and discoveries. No Mexican companies could fit that bill. Something happened and they changed it around, allowing Mexican companies to bid, but these companies just went crazy and made ridiculous offers that were untenable under any circumstance, preventing us from obtaining any blocks.

Q: What has been the perception of Mexico among your clients and contacts in the US?

A: Our client base was scared to death of Mexico. I am not talking about the Shells and the Exxons of the world but the smaller companies that do independent exploration; they have a great fear that once they get started, things will get complicated and corruption will be bad and that they will be nationalized eventually anyway. Ironically, as we began to work with entities such as CNH and others, I actually saw the same concern on their faces as we met. They were afraid that all these foreign companies were going to come down and take advantage of them.