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Leonidas Oyaga

COLOMBIA - Industry

Leonidas Oyaga

CEO, Sempertex

Bio

Leonidas Oyaga obtained degrees in BS economics and BA history from Georgia State University, and a BBA in economics and management from Università Ca’ Foscari in 2011. Starting in 2012, he successfully led the turnaround of a small construction aggregates mining company, and in 2013 he joined Sempertex as a logistics optimizer. Over the last 10 years, he has held various roles within the organization, with a two-year hiatus from 2019 to 2021 to pursue an MBA at the London Business School. After an 18-month transition plan with the previous president, he assumed the presidency of Sempertex in 2023.

"In the 1990s, Sempertex started its efforts to expand internationally with the help of ProColombia (previously ProExport) and attending different international fairs to showcase its products."
Can you elaborate on the history of Sempertex, and how the company has evolved in the last 85 years?

The company was founded by my grandfather, Emil Loewy, who fled Austria before the German occupation during World War II and settled in Barranquilla, where he started a business in 1938 producing latex products such as gloves, balloons, toys, pacifiers, and condoms. He led the company for 30 years until 1968, after which my grandmother took over with the help of her eldest brother until 1977. Her eldest son, Oswald Loewy led the company from 1978-2018. In the mid-1980s, Oswald decided to focus Sempertex exclusively on manufacturing natural latex balloons, a decision that has guided the company’s direction for the past four decades. The next big step for Sempertex was expanding and positioning the brand internationally. Sempertex balloons are currently present in more than 80 countries in the five continents. In the past four years, the brand has consolidated its position as one of the highest quality and most innovative balloon brands in the international market.

How has Sempertex expanded its presence in the global market?

In the 1990s, Sempertex started its efforts to expand internationally with the help of ProColombia (previously ProExport) and attending different international fairs to showcase its products. To differentiate from other balloon manufacturers, Sempertex made the strategic decision to focus on producing the highest quality natural latex balloons, which required significant changes across the entire organization. The company re-engineered the entire value chain to deliver the best possible product: people/talent, raw material sourcing, production technology, and process and quality control standards. The company is proud to offer one of the highest-quality balloons in the world, which has helped it penetrate many different markets. The company continuously innovates in balloon colors, sizes/shapes, and educational material, priding itself of offering the widest portfolio of colors and sizes. We are convinced this is the best way to continue delivering value to all our stakeholders. In the Colombian market, we have four channels: wholesale, retail, corporate, and online (B2C), which was launched two years ago to give consumers the possibility to find the full range of our products in a single place.

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