The Business Year

Bernardo Pérez

ECUADOR - Industry

Bernardo Pérez

General Manager, Aglomerados Cotopaxi

Bio

Bernardo Pérez is General Manager of Aglomerados Cotopaxi. He has more than 20 years’ experience in wood panel companies, where he has developed distribution channels and alliances with wood retail stores for Ecuadorian panels in markets all over the world. He currently serves on the boards of directors of companies in Ecuador and Colombia and has been a private-sector representative for FTA negotiations between Ecuador and its trading partners. Pérez holds a BA from Babson College.

Aglomerados Cotopaxi focuses heavily on taking care of the environment while conducting its operations, even winning an award from the UN for its water governance agreements.

What has been the contribution of Aglomerados Cotopaxi to the overall growth of the wood industry in Ecuador?

Aglomerados Cotopaxi is an Ecuadorian company dating back 44 years that has always been focused on sustainability. Today, Aglomerados Cotopaxi’s forest plantations occupy 44,500 acres, and the entirety of our timber is sourced from plantations. We have always been at the forefront of technology, exporting different products to over 10 countries. We have a strong relationship with distributors across South, Central, and North America. Aglomerados Cotopaxi believes in the country and has continued investing in it.

How does Aglomerados Cotopaxi work to reduce its environmental footprint?

Over time, Aglomerados Cotopaxi is seen more often like a forest bioeconomy. We have numerous water resources that start in our forest plantations and supply clean water to nearby communities. We have significant alliances for water management with the communities to preserve the quantity and quality of these resources, which allows us to maintain good relationships with our neighboring communities, that rely on agriculture, and for whom water is of utmost importance. We even won a prize from the UN in recognition of our water governance agreements. We use wood biomass as fuel instead of petroleum derivatives. We use biological pest control instead of using pesticides. We take care of the quality of the soil with the use of specialized machinery. We reduce the footprint because during the 20 years that our trees have been growing in our plantations which they are already in their third rotation, we have fixed a lot of carbon that has not returned to the atmosphere thanks to the responsible and integrated forest management of the entire operation.

What is the importance of the circular economy regarding the wood sector and Aglomerados Cotopaxi?

Wood is one of the most circular products in the world. It is a renewable resource, and every tree is used to manufacture many products, in the case of Aglomerados Cotopaxi it is used to make pallets, panels, and other solid timber products. We use the whole tree for manufacturing, biomass and substrate. The scraps are used for power generation. Aglomerados Cotopaxi has a program to continuously reduce the use of fossil fuels and instead rely more on wood as the source of our energy. On the other hand, wood products can be recycled and reused. You are not generating a waste or pollution problem, as wood can be recycled or used as a fuel source. This is what makes wood such a circular product.

What is the positive effect of the new commercial agreements of the Ecuadorean government, and how can Aglomerados Cotopaxi benefit from this?

Aglomerados Cotopaxi will benefit from a pro-business and pro-investment government. The trade agreements are the result of political vision. Most entrepreneurs and business leaders are finally feeling represented, to a certain extent, in what we look for as a country. The new political vision of this government is to sign numerous trade agreements within a short period of time. There are currently 10 countries waiting to discuss a trade agreement in the next few years. We are close to closing the deal with Mexico, and will shortly start doing so with China. Today, Ecuador exports over USD600 million per year in wood products. Ecuador is the largest banana exporter in the world and the largest shrimp exporter as well. Both of these products are top world contenders thanks to the vision, drive, and resilience of investors. Ecuador has an important agri-business export presence, especially led by private-sector investments, without any subsidies or other help from the governments. This shows two things: the potential of the country and the drive of its entrepreneurs. Despite the various political scenarios we have lived in the past, entrepreneurs and business leaders have always driven the economy and believed in the country.

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