The Business Year

Helmuth Obilcnik

PANAMA - Industry

Commanding Sights

Regional President, Bosch

Bio

Helmuth Obilcnik graduated in business administration & management from Hochschule für Gestaltung, Technik und Wirtschaft in Pforzheim, Germany. He currently works in Panama as the Regional President of Robert Bosch for Central America, the Caribbean, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. He has worked for Bosch since 1987. He previously served as an IT Consultant in Germany, Financial & Administrative Manager in Portugal, Audit Supervisor in Germany, CFO Director of Finance and Administration in Argentina, and CFO Vice President of Finance and Controlling in Brazil.

What segment drives the company’s activities in the region? Automotive parts, power tools, and household appliances are the main drivers of our business that are well known by end-users. However, […]

What segment drives the company’s activities in the region?

Automotive parts, power tools, and household appliances are the main drivers of our business that are well known by end-users. However, we have a presence in the project segment throughout the region through some of our other divisions. Bosch Pharma packaging technology is present in a highly relevant pharmaceutical project in El Salvador. Our hydraulic solutions are used in the largest hydroelectric project in Venezuela, the Guri Dam. We have a significant presence in mining projects in Peru, with our hydraulic motors and drive units. Packaging technology and steam solutions from Bosch are used in most international confectionery and food plants established throughout the 17 countries of our Latin American region.

How is innovation driving the role that Bosch plays in Panama’s development?

We are represented in Panama via distributors and integrators in various segments, from power tools to automotive spare parts, as well as thermotechnology and household appliances. We also have a complete portfolio of security systems, an important part of our business in Panama. The surveillance system surrounding the Presidential Palace in the historic Casco Viejo district of Panama City was produced by Bosch. Our smart homes and smart cities concepts are now in their first stage of development. The strategic importance of this market can only increase. Ecuador is hosting the upcoming Habitat Exhibition in 2016 and Bosch will be there presenting its smart technologies.

How is Bosch technology used in the canal, and why were you chosen?

The Panama Canal is an important part of our business and is another reason why we are here. Bosch was part of the modernization project of the Panama Canal that took place in 1998 when the old mechanical lock systems were replaced by new hydraulic ones from Bosch Rexroth. We are also involved in the new set of locks for the Panama Canal expansion with the same technology. Bosch Rexroth is delivering all of the drive-related components needed for the rolling gates between the chambers and the water sewing basins. This innovative solution allows the canal to save up to 60% of the water previously used during operation of the locks, which illustrates well our motto of “Invented for life,“ meaning that we focus on innovation and technology. We file an average of 5,400 patents every year, which is the equivalent of one patent every 30 minutes. What is also interesting to know about Bosch is that 92% of our share capital is held by the charitable foundation of Robert Bosch, which invests profits in social, cultural, and health-related projects worldwide.

How will Bosch continue to consolidate its presence in the region?

Cuba and the Dominican Republic are targets in the short run. We are exploring opportunities in Cuba, and we have already established distributors there for the automotive and power tools segments. We have been present with a corporate booth at La Feria Internacional de la Habana (FIHAV) 2015, which is the most relevant exhibition and industrial fair taking place in Cuba. We have a household manufacturing plant in Peru. Bosch recently opened a branch in Costa Rica to provide technical support to the security systems and accounting services for the US, and we also opened a sales office in Ecuador in 2015. In 2016, we opened a sales branch in Panama with the purpose of selling directly to our customers, and we started with power tools and then expanded to other divisions. The region that we cover here represented $80 million in revenue for Bosch in 2008, but has since grown to roughly $240 million. The target for 2020 is $500 million, meaning we aim to double turnover in the next five years. The Center of Competence located in Panama plays a decisive role in achieving this target. We are seeking opportunities to challenge ourselves in order to reach our goal in the region.

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