Juan Carlos Zuleta, founder and president of IPROCOM, a company that produces plastic specialized components, spoke with Tecnología del Plástico, an Axioma B2B Maketing publication, about the importance of capitalizing opportunities in the midst of the turmoil, substitution in imports and how to redefine the business by betting on improving communication with clients and R&D activities.
Mandatory isolation policies implemented by various Latinamerican governments to reduce the infection of Covid-19 have had a significant toll on all economic activities, and IPROCOM , a Colombian manufacturer of high performance plastic components was not an exception since their products were not classified as essential by their government and they had to cease all productive activities in march.
Recently, the company was cleared to resume its operations by complying with very strict biosecurity protocols that include frequent handwashing, guarding physical distance, use of special facemasks and temperature control and disinfections chekpoints at the entrance of their plant.
And although the implementation of these measures has caused a drop in productivity of nearly 12%, because of the time it takes to fulfill all the activities required by the protocol , the priority in IPROCOM is to guarantee the safety of its collaborators and of all those who have access to the plant such as suppliers and contractors.
The current situation has led IPROCOM to intensify its R&D efforts in order to meet their goal of offering innovative solutions to the most pressing needs of society.
According to Zuleta, many opportunities have arisen from the need to reduce Covid-19 transmission, not only for workers in the health sector but also for other industries and general population, since mandatory biosafety protocols and government recommendations demand the use of protective elements such as surgical masks, glasses, face masks and disposable gloves.
We created a new business to consumer area that allows us to reach new clients that we had never served and that have other dynamics that are very different from those we were used to.
These products were not routinely manufactured by IPROCOM but they were quick to see an opportunity to diversify their product portfolio, their processes and their customers. “ While designing a protection mask based on semi-finished products manufactured by ourselves and integrating other protection elements provided by our suppliers we were able to built a digital platform to offer this new product portfolio directly to end customers. In other words, we created a new business to consumer area that allows us to reach new clients that we had never served and that have other dynamics that are very different from those we were used to, ”says Zuleta.
On the other hand, the design of their face mask has been so innovative and effective that it already has the INVIMA approval (Colombian Food and Medicaments administration) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) included it in the kits that they will be delivering to the vulnerable population of several Latin American countries as part of a program to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
An opportunity to substitute imports
The new world economic scenario presents many opportunities to substitute imports and strengthen national and regional industries in response to the rising cost of imported products and raw materials and the unhealthy dependence on China products that has been so harmful to many companies and sectors.
However, for the IPROCOM executive board is clear that change does not happen magically. Suppliers and different players allong the value chain must do their part to become strategic allies and meet the challenges and demands of the projects in which they participate. “ The success of the business model of an industrial supplier is basically based on three aspects: specialization, quality and competitiveness. When a supplier specializes in the manufacture of a product or in the operation of a sub-process, it will develop a know-how that it would be difficult for its customers and its competitors to reach, which would lead to strengthening its position in the market ” Zuleta stressed