The Business Year

Claudio González

MEXICO - Industry

The leader in liquid soaps in Mexico

President, Kimberly-Clark México


Claudio González started his career at Kimberly-Clark Mexico and was CEO and Chairman of the Board from 1973 to 2007. He studied chemical engineering in Stanford and has spent over 60 years at the company. González is also a member of the board of directors for several companies, including Fondo Mexico, Grupo Carso, Alfa, Grupo Mexico, and Bolsa Mexicana, and GIS.

"We are the leader in liquid soaps in Mexico."

How will the change in vision in the administration impact doing business in Mexico?

There is no question this government will be different from any of Mexico’s previous governments. We have had other transitions such as at the end of the 1990s, when the government changed parties for the first time in 70 years. The government has gone back and forth between these two parties (PRI and PAN) since then, though this election is different. It is starting to become fairly evident that the emphasis on social aspects will be significantly stronger in the new administration. That is in fact beneficial in many ways, and we are excited to see how this new program to help young people works out. We are extremely involved in it and are excited to help make it work and offer something that will contribute to creating more employment in the country; however, it is still too early to see how things will go. Also the emphasis on improving security and eliminating corruption are very big in the new government.

In what ways will the renegotiation of NAFTA affect the economy

We are currently concerned about how willing this new administration will be in continuing to strengthen the openness of the Mexican economy. However, the fact that the new President had the opportunity to state that he was not in favor of a new free trade agreement during the NAFTA renegotiations but did not is extremely positive and encouraging. It would be hard to imagine a growing economy that can achieve its full potential without being open, especially in the 21st century. North America is without a doubt the most competitive region in the world; it has positive demographic trends, many of the centers of technology, geography, energy, institutions, capital, water, food, and all the factors required to be successful in the 21st century. The new generation of Mexican businessmen are extremely competitive and involved. They are driving investment not only in Mexico but also in the US, Canada, and other parts of the world. There is no question this generation is significantly more competitive and attuned to what is going on in the world and what the future will be.

What global trends is the company foreseeing to change demands for products?

Adult care products will be the product of the future because many economies in the world are rapidly aging. Japan is the first country in the world today that sells more adult diapers than baby diapers. Advances in medicine and technology help extend people’s lives from early 1980s to 1990s and even 2000s. People are also more environmentally aware and active than before, and we are helping our clients such as McDonalds reduce their carbon footprint and meet consumer needs by offering non-bleached napkins. It also no longer uses straws in its restaurants. If you do not innovate, you can’t succeed. In this globalized, highly technology-oriented environment, it is not only new and better products that are required, but also different social norms and needs.

What is your future vision for the company and expansion goals for the next year?

We will focus on growth, growth, and growth. We still have opportunities in the markets we cover and will continue to innovate our current portfolio while actively looking for opportunities to expand it. In the last three years, Kimberly-Clark Mexico has done well in the soaps segments, which is something that no other Kimberly-Clark company has achieved in the world. We are the leader in liquid soaps in Mexico, and this sector is growing the most. Despite the challenges before us, we are very upbeat because Mexico continues to be one of the most exciting opportunities in the world. It has a large and growing middle class that participates more every day, and people are very ready to continue growing and find ways of making our country better. We have major challenges and, at the same time, major opportunities and the ability to find solutions to our problems and take advantage of these opportunities. We are multi-channel and multi-sector and offer products to both the consumer sector as well as the professional sector, namely hotels, offices, and the McDonalds of the world. We have to be in all these areas, and each one is a business opportunity. Walmart is our biggest customer by far; it is relatively bigger in Mexico than it is in the US as it has a higher proportion of the market.



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