The Business Year

Roberto Junguito Pombo

COLOMBIA - Industry

Roberto Junguito Pombo

President, Organización Corona

Bio

Roberto Junguito Pombo was appointed CEO of Organización Corona in 2019. Throughout his career, Junguito has held a variety of roles of increasing responsibility and leadership positions including associate and engagement manager with McKinsey & Company, vice president of Valorem (previously Valores Bavaria), COO and chief revenue officer of Avianca, CEO of Copa Airlines, and, most recently, CEO of Cerrejón Colombia. He holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from Universidad de Los Andes (Colombia) and an MBA from the Wharton School and a master’s degree in international relations from the Joseph H. Lauder Institute, both at the University of Pennsylvania. 

Founded more than 140 years ago in Colombia, Organización Corona remains true to its values and commitment to creating value in social, environmental, and financial terms.

Over 140 years old, how has the company-maintained market relevance through changing market conditions?

One of the most interesting company traits of Organización Corona is that the company has maintained the same shareholders through its 140 years—like-minded individuals that understand the importance of catering to consumer preferences. There are two key factors of value: the long-term vision of our shareholders and a commitment to innovation through proactive management. The organization started as a small tableware business and then diversified into ceramic sanitaryware and floors and wall tiles. Later, the company adopted a strong presence in the retail business in order to be closer to the customer, becoming a key player in the segment of home remodeling. Finally, Corona has made pursuing joint business opportunities with international partners an important part of its strategy to complement its know-how with that of its business partners in order to strengthen the company’s competitiveness. What has made Corona successful is the combination of these elements: values, long-term vision, our corporate culture, strategic partnerships, and employees who believe in our company’s purpose. 

The company has the unique characteristic of being engaged in different sectors such as both retail and industry. What is the strategy to sustain presence within different sectors?

The central purpose of Corona is to improve lives by transforming spaces. We have entered a variety of businesses that support this purpose. Our core business revolves around home and construction improvement and having an ample presence across the value chain ensures efficiency. At the moment, within the construction component of the business we are involved in cement, sanitaryware products, construction finishes such as tiles and paints, and a wide range of value-added industrial minerals for different industries. The intention is to continue expanding our value proposition, for example by being a key partner in Ikea’s market entry in Colombia. These types of partnerships contribute to further raising standards across the entire value chain because our goal is to deliver quality products and excellent shopping experiences both online and in retail stores. We are partnered with Cementos Molins from Spain in order to combine its expertise in the cement business with Corona’s robust distribution experience in Colombia. We also have partnerships with Falabella, a Chile-based group, in Homecenter. All these specialized partners share our core values and complement our industry and retail know-how with their sector-specific experience so that we can continue to grow, create jobs and deliver value to customers in different markets.

How does Corona approach sustainability, and what is the importance for the group of having an impact on social development?

When a company and its shareholders and strategic partners have a solid structure of values, shared long-term vision, and a firm commitment to creating value in social, environmental and financial terms it brings about a different and very special energy to the company. Our central purpose is to improve peoples’ lives by transforming spaces. In this sense, the DNA of the organization prioritizes sustainability and has been a key priority for more than 140 years even before the concept of sustainability existed. At the annual meetings of shareholders, we dedicate as much time to discussing the company’s investments and operations as we do to discussing social and environmental projects. Several NGOs and think tanks in Colombia have been founded or supported by Organización Corona or our shareholders in line with our longstanding commitment to generating positive impacts well beyond the direct operations of our companies. It is important to factor social issues into business practices, and we are innovators in this, notably in terms of how we look after our employees and how we work hand in hand with the communities where we operate. Additionally, almost all of Corona’s manufacturing plants in Colombia are ISO 14001 certified for their environmental management systems, and in 2021 Homecenter-Constructor became the first retail chain in Latin America to achieve the ISO 14001 certification in 100% of its stores. 

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