The Business Year

Manuel Gutiérrez de la Serna

MEXICO - Industry

Consistent Awareness

General Manager, Carrier Mexico

Bio

Born in Mexico City, Manuel Gutierrez graduated in Mechanical and Electrical Engineer from the Monterrey Institute of Technology with a Master’s in Business and more than 20 years of experience in the heating, ventilating and refrigeration industry. Since 2008 he has occupied the General Manager position for Carrier Mexico, being responsible for the sales and distribution business of equipment, parts, supplies, controls and service. Throughout his career he has developed high performance teams and inspired organizations to meet long-term goals and grow based on human development. He is currently finishing the AD2 — IPADE certification program.

"The automotive manufacturing sector has become strategic in Mexico."

What is the history of Carrier in Mexico and what has changed since you have been here?

Carrier has a long history in Mexico since it began in 1930. The company began operations by working together with a family based in Monterrey and established a large manufacturing facility. Mexico was one of the first markets it explored outside of the US. Carrier is the inventor of the first air conditioning, and also innovated by introducing a print process to the design, which allows you to control temperature and humidity. Carrier established a manufacturing point in Monterrey, which is now based in five manufacturing locations with about 2,000 employees. This is the second largest manufacturing center in terms of concentration and capacity after China. These factories serve the American, Canadian, and Latin American markets with the exception of Brazil and Argentina. Carrier came to Mexico because of labor costs and its geographic location, but it came before the automotive industry and now the automotive industry is following this path into Monterrey.

Is the increase in competition the biggest change you have seen over recent years?

This is one of the biggest changes we have seen. If you look at demand and the products that are on offer then you see that consumers have a much greater range of options to select from when making a decision on buying. Products and quality of service are the only areas where you can compete for loyalty. Consumers are much better educated today, through technology, social networking, and the boom in e-commerce. We just launched our first e-commerce site, where we are serving our customers in a different way. Carrier now has a 24/7 store where we are always available. This is a huge change for the market, especially for our industry, which is related to steel and compressors rather than electronic innovation. Carrier has come out with online sale services and you can make a comparison or buy our products on your cellphone.

How do you maintain customer loyalty?

We do this in many ways. We carry out a lot of training and education programs, and try to maintain awareness among our customers in a consistent way. The customer profile today is different for a single woman, for a family, or for a couple that wants to have a beach house, so trends and customer demands are changing, and you need to have a product and strategy that is applicable for everyone. Our marketing slogan today is “Be Happy,” and with this we are trying to explain to people that air conditioning can help you to be happy and productive in a workplace or school.

How much of your business is residential and how much is commercial?

The residential side is almost always the largest, and it depends on the economic capacity of the population. Trends in demographics, for example families living together for longer in the US, affect the market, as young people do not move out as early. Such tendencies can be found in any market, and must be taken into consideration.

Are the automotive and aerospace sectors important for you in terms of customers?

The automotive manufacturing sector has become strategic in Mexico because of the extensive production and supplies chain it involves, in what you call tier 1, 2 and 3 companies. Everything is a process around them and we do very well with the big automotive companies who recommend us to their suppliers, so there is a referral process within the automotive and aerospace sectors. There are a lot of electronic companies establishing in the North of Mexico and UTC has a new aerospace plant in Mexicali, which we are serving.

Sustainability is an issue for consumers, and air conditioning has a reputation for not being environmentally friendly. How does Carrier address this?

Our logos have a green leaf symbol, which shows the efforts we are making with regard to sustainability. Carrier became a founder of a movement that is trying to develop the most adequate ways of designing and building sustainable structures. That is how we have managed to win LEED certification for our buildings. We are always innovating in our use of refrigerants and the chemicals that regulate heat exchange with the air. These refrigerants have global warming and polluting effects on the atmosphere, so Carrier is always looking to find a balance. There has been a lot of work done on developing new compressor technology, the components that lie at the heart of air conditioning systems.

Why was the LEED certification obtained by your facility important for the company?

We work with consultants, architects, and owners and people that have to provide value in terms of their engineering products and services. LEED certification applies to buildings and facilities, but also to workers. Every sales engineer we hire goes through a process of training to become an AP certified engineer. New professionals especially seek this certification and look for ways to work in a more sustainable way. Air conditioning is an important element of this, as these systems use a lot of energy. Carrier is a pioneering company in this area, and we try to improve awareness of LEED certification in the market.

Do you have any flagship projects here in Mexico?

Most of our main projects are in areas such as entertainment, shopping malls, retail and department stores, manufacturing, office buildings, and cooling processes, where we are successfully serving our clients. We are also working at the Museo Papolote, which is undergoing remodeling work and will be enlarged. We are working with the Koreans in the automotive manufacturing industry in Monterrey, and this is also a huge investment. We are working on a number of buildings around the Santa Fe area also.

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