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Eng. Guillermo Elizondo

President, Grupo Ceres

Marco Ojeda

Business groups within agriculture are both expanding and advancing the sector to drive the Mexican economy.

What is the background of your company?

ENG. GUILLERMO ELIZONDO After studying agronomy at Tecnologico de Monterrey and working for a company that manufactured fertilizers, I decided to start my own business. I got a small loan from a bank and bought a seed-cleaning machine from the US. I started selling services with that machine to farmers and was hired by them to give them technical advice, and I was able to pay back the loan. After this, I started selling fertilizers, agrochemicals, seeds, and imported Porsche tractors from Germany and invested in other agricultural ventures such as horticulture and cattle raising. At the same time, we diversified and began importing air conditioners and computers.

MARCO OJEDA The company was started 48 years ago by a group of businessmen in the agriculture sector who had seen there was a need to develop a company that could ensure quality on-time delivery. Thus, Agroindustrias del Norte as a group is nearly 50 years old, but some of our companies have been doing business in Sinaloa for over 70 years. At that time, there were similar companies getting starting, but what made this one unique was that it decided to serve everybody’s needs. Hence, the company was started as a corporation that would be professionally managed. The families would remain at the board and review its results, but there would be a professional administration. This is important because even today, we are one of the few companies in the industry that is operated by professionals and not family-run.

How did you expand, either geographically or in terms of businesses, to your current presence?

GE Grupo Ceres expanded into other businesses such as finance and insurance. One of the top needs of farmers was financing, so we formed a SOFOM called Agrocapital, we have a credit line of MXN600 million (USD33.4 million) with FIRA and MXN1.25 billion (USD69.4 million) with Financiera Nacional. Also, the market needed an agricultural insurer; hence we founded ASTERRA. We also formed ARMEX, a crop storage company that is an auxiliary credit institution. We formed a company called Centro de Productividad Ceres to give farmers technical assistance, ensuring production and loan repayment. Our goal is to grow internationally with exports. We are negotiating with Nigeria, Angola and China. We have exported maize to South Africa, Costa Rica and Venezuela. The US produces transgenic corn whereas Mexico produces non-transgenic corn.

MO Being based in Sinaloa makes sense because we are leaders in high-tech farming in Mexico. We export many products to various parts of the globe such as the US, Spain, and South America. As such, Sinaloa is the ideal place in Mexico because it offers advantages and there are large farming supplies here. However, the Sinaloa market is difficult because we have farmers with a great deal of experience that negotiate very well; they are always negotiating prices, conditions, services, and more, which makes running a profitable business a challenge. We decided that when going out of Sinaloa, instead of adapting our services to whatever they’re having in the market, we give the same service and conditions as in Sinaloa. This has proven to be an excellent decision because we are growing by six to seven branches a year now. We want to send a message to growers that we are about innovation and are high tech; we can help growers develop and export their product in a better way. One thing that differentiates us is the number of our well-trained technicians and experts in those technologies who are in the field. There is no one in Mexico with as many technicians in the field. Definitely, there is a space for us to go after in Latin America. We have had some talks with different companies in Chile, Peru, Colombia, and Argentina, but there is still much to be done in Mexico. Right now, as a first step, we want to grow in the high-tech areas in Mexico and expand as much as we can there.



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