Interviewee Sergio Ramirez, General Manager, LATINCO S.A.
Written by: Rebecca Castrejon, Editor of BRAL
Produced by: Jassen Pintado, Director of Operations for Latin America (Construction)
After completing his undergraduate education at Universidad Nacional de Minas in 1995, civil engineer Sergio Ramirez joined LATINCO as resident engineer.
During his first years with the company, Ramirez found himself travelling all around Colombia, supervising construction works on highways for different departments (provinces). Afterwards, he was promoted to works manager. Years later, he became project coordinator followed by project manager. By 2011, Ramirez became LATINCO's CEO, utilizing his 20-year experience, leadership and knowledge in Colombia's construction sector.
During LATINCO's timeline, the company has helped transform Colombians' quality of life by performing different roles: project innovators, subcontractors for important companies, concession operators, and builders for public projects. Overall, the company's portfolio encompasses projects that have become part of the population's daily activities. Some of these projects include:
• Foundation Laying, developments and maintenance of the Autopista del Cafe highway: This project's development was crucial to connect the cities of Manizales, Pereira and Armenia, part of Colombia's "coffee-growers axis" across Caldas, Risaralda, Quindio and Valle del Cauca departments.
• Bogota - Girardot toll road concession: completed in record time.
• Troncal Central del Norte (National Route 55): the company worked on this highway's construction, which runs across the Santander department.
• Transversal del Sur: a project with great social and ecological impact due to its location between the departments of Putumayo and Nariño. This construction is being finance by BID (Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo).
"The most important factor for us is our staff," says Ramirez. The company has worked on training and specialization of its employees in specific areas of project development, from pavement, geotechnical engineering and structures to finances.
Benefits for employees include quality incentives, days off, leisure travel and school supplies aid, among others. The company has also introduced strict safety and health policies, guaranteeing a stable working atmosphere that will allow motivation and constant development.
"Our employees develop a sense of belonging regarding the company, which reflects in our competitiveness and joint growth,” says Ramirez.
LATINCO's innovation includes the introduction of the newest machinery for concrete mix production, geotechnical engineering, detonation and deep foundation construction. New equipment for asphalt concrete pavement's processes was recently introduced—along with special programs for its performance—for mix quality improvement.
equipment and machinery.
“Our constant upgrades alongside the introduction of hi-tech and productive machinery has produced very good results," says Ramirez.
LATINCO's path towards operational expansion is preceded by investments focused in the energy and logistics areas as well as in construction equipment's upgrading and improvements. 50 percent of the company's near-future investments are to be directed towards public works, and the remaining 50 percent will help new business endeavors' development such as power stations to achieve self-sufficiency.
Over the next year, the company foresees completion of its first power station, which is to become fully operational during early 2016; the construction of a second power plant is scheduled to begin during that same year.
"We are positive that 10 years from today, we will still be in the construction business AND in the energy sector with the operation of small hydropower plants," says Ramirez.
Developments during 2014-2015
• Puente Gualanday bridge: Girardot-Ibague-Cajamarca route concession project, developed with the company's own equipment, to be completed in November 2014. The Gualanday bridge is to become an important part of the route, measuring 2100 ft. long and nearly 300 ft. high.
• South cross route development: maintenance for the Tumaco - Pasto - Moca section; improvements after damages during winter season.
• Puente Madre Laura Montoya bridge construction: currently under construction in the city of Medellin in association with the municipality and other state-owned entities. This will become the largest bridge developed in a city in Colombia.
• Winter mitigation projects nationwide: constructions with a strong social focus and big presence in the northern, central and northeastern part of the country and in collaboration with the national government.
Logistics in Latin America
LATINCO has performed project management in other countries within Latin America; in Peru, for example, the company oversees a landfill operation in the city of Arequipa in a joint venture with INTERASEO.
Currently, the company is bidding for different projects also in Peru and conducting research for future endeavors in Ecuador, Panama, Aruba and other countries.
"We are aware of possible business opportunities abroad, but we are cautious about investing in other countries, since we like working where we are in control of the projects and tasks to be performed," says Ramirez.
Since its inception, LATINCO's efforts go beyond construction sites and into communities' development, sponsoring educational initiatives and school construction/maintenance projects along with local government entities.
Regarding the company's care for the environment in reference to their corporate responsibilities, LATINCO is reducing carbon dioxide emissions by utilizing green technology with the investment and development in hydropower stations. Also, as part of their sustainability policies, gardens are always part of their urban compensations.
"We have always looked to build responsibly in compliance with technical requirements, without creating any risk either for entities, for our employees, for the company, for society, and in financially-viable projects," says Ramirez.
Due to the demand of high quantities of building supplies for construction, LATINCO has made sure the company relies on trustworthy sources for actual building supplies, especially for steel, cement, concrete and granular material.
"It is very important to have reliable suppliers in this topic. Today our suppliers are aware of their part in the development of the works we do, which has also helped us control deadlines," says Ramirez.
LATINCO is keeping focused in concession grants both regionally and nationwide, as well as in infrastructure and engineering improvements.
Within the industrial trade, the company continues to produce building material from stone; production rate will increase in the short term according to the trade's demand in Bogota. As for mining, material processing will increase for local construction projects within the cities of Armenia, Pereira and Manizales.
Predictions for the end of 2014 consider a 5 percent increase on annual sales, with an expected income of more than US$135 million; the goal for 2015 is reaching the US$150 million mark in revenue. Expectations for 2017 include a 15 percent investment in the energy and logistics trades, these recent business units will remain in a fast-paced growth until the year 2020.