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Alonso Bogantes

COSTA RICA - Transport

Limón to be fastest growing area outside of San José in coming years

General Manager, MATRA

Bio

Alonso Bogantes Zamora was born in San José, Costa Rica in 1974. He holds a master’s in business administration with an emphasis on finance from INCAE Business School. While in INCAE, he was granted an scholarship from the Foundation for Management Education in Central America. Prior to INCAE, he studied in the University of Central Florida (UCF) from where he obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with a Minor in International Business. Before UCF, he attended the Valencia Community College in Central Florida where he graduated as Associate in Arts with emphasis in Business Administration. He was granted an out of state tuition exemption from the Florida-Costa Rica Linkage Institute (Florica) both in Valencia Community College and UCF. He is CEO of Maquinaria & Tractores Ltda (MATRA), but prior to this served as CFO of Aldesa Corporación de Inversiones (ALDESA) from 2006- 2010. From 2004-2006 he administrative manager of Merck Sharp & Dohme, one of the ten largest healthcare companies in the world.

"Limón will likely be the fastest-growing area outside of San José in the next few years."

What has happened in MATRA during the last year?

We added new brands to our portfolio, the most important one being Volvo Trucks. Volvo owns Mack Trucks and that helped achieving this goal as we have represented Mack since 1953. This expansion of our portfolio in the trucks business enlarges our focus and footprint. There are products Volvo has which will allow us to compete in segments of the market we did not participate before. Volvo Trucks includes buses, so it also means an expansion for us as we already represent Zhong Tong buses. In this segment, we are well diversified as Volvo Buses are high-end products and Zhong Tong focuses on a more economic type of bus.

Why is it important to diversify your portfolio of brands?

It is important to add value; however, it is more important for us to have the critical mass to be able to compete in each sector. MATRA is undeniably the largest dealer of heavy machinery in the country and the only way we can justify the investments we have made in the last few years is by having different products for the industries we cover. Being the largest dealer means our customers expect a lot more from us: More presence throughout the country, more parts inventory and shorter lead times. It also means investing in resources so that our employees are better trained and able to solve problems quickly. As a contrast, we could concentrate on certain industries and try to just perform on those which means having a smaller company. We chose having a larger company with a larger footprint. As an example, this year we opened branches in Rio Claro, Caldera, and Guápiles. There will also be a big focus on Guápiles in 2018 because there will be significant expansion of demand in the Caribbean.

What is the importance of secondary cities such as Limón?

Limón will likely be the fastest-growing area outside of San José in the next few years. There will be exponential growth because of the dynamics of the logistics industry. As a result, other sectors of the local economy will grow, especially those related with primary services. Executives will start living there, there will be necessities of more hotels, restaurants schools, etc. The government will have to look into the logistics and the infrastructure. The other area that will continue to grow is the north of the country in the surrounding areas of San Carlos. We see big expansions of business in the agriculture and agro industrial sectors. It already is a dynamic area and primary services should also continue to grow.

How do you see this infrastructure problem evolving in the future?

I do not see it evolving; nothing has happened in the last 12 months. I am not being negative; it is a matter of analyzing what has happened and how we incorporate those facts into our budgets. On a positive note, we hope the 57 agreements achieved by the nine main political parties become a reality. In the end, it means whoever wins the next election will have to work toward accomplishing those agreements. For the first time in 20 years political parties are agreeing on common subjects and are concentrating on the ways to execute what the country needs. One of those subjects is infrastructure. We all agree we need to be able to execute the construction of roads and finally solve the problem of mobility, especially within the metropolitan areas. We hope the next government will be able to implement it.

Has the boom in construction impacted MATRA’s business?

It has positively impacted particularly the industrial part of our business. We sell power generation and every building built needs a power generator. The services and specialized manufacturing industries are growing; especially those related to free zones. Forklifts and power generation play an important role in those sectors. If the pace at which the country builds buildings and free zones was equal for roads, bridges, and dams then we would be in a great shape.

Why should customers choose MATRA?

Because we are the best at what we do. The relationships with our customers does not end when the equipment leaves our facilities; we in fact believe that is when the relationship starts. We have been in the market for 66 years. It is not a matter of luck to be able to take care of this market for such a long period of time. It requires a great deal of knowledge and compromise. The market recognizes our commitment with aftermarket focus. Customers can rely on us for parts, service, rental, and more. We are undoubtedly the best solution because we have a footprint all over the country, technicians travelling all across the country, and the tools and technology to be able to put machines to work.

What is your strategy for growth in 2018 and for the future?

We want to concentrate on covering the brands we represent and properly delivering based on the expectations of our customers. We also want to focus on growing demand for port machinery products. We want to make Volvo one of the main truck brands in the country. We will slow down on opening of new branches and will focus on enlarging the infrastructure on current 15 facilities. That also means bigger service shops at certain branches.

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