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Manuel Calderón Quiel

PANAMA - Industry

Solid to the Core

Managing Director, Tetra Pak


Manuel Calderon Quiel is the Managing Director of Tetra Pak. He has been at the company since 1999. He holds a degree in industrial engineering, an MBA in finance, and an MBA in international business.

TBY talks to Manuel Calderón Quiel, Managing Director of Tetra Pak, on improving services, retaining the best talent, and maintaining the highest sustainability levels.

With over 30 years of operations in Panama, how did the company perform in 2017?

In general, 2017 was a great year for the industry and Tetra Pak. Compared to previous years, there was a decline in the growth rate. Several years ago, we were seeing double-digit growth, but growth in 2017 was in single digits. If we compare Panama to the rest of the region, though, we are still performing well. The only other country performing as well is the Dominican Republic. We are placing a greater focus on services. There has been a great deal of consolidation in the market, and this is putting pressure on people to reduce operational costs. This has forced companies to look for alternatives to improve operations, and one such way is through services. We have a consulting team for the industry, and this is where we have seen the most revenue growth. We focus a great deal of our resources on services, and our service business, lead by consulting, has grown by double digits.

In 2016, Tetra Pak launched a spare parts service center hub. How is it progressing?

Panama was one of the first markets in which we started operating. It was not the largest market; therefore, it was a good pilot. Now, we have expanded across the entire Americas and are managing the spare parts industry for the entire region from Panama. We also moved our purchasing operations to Panama.

Who are your main clients in Panama?

In Panama, our main customers are Nevada, Bonlac, and Estrella Azul. All these companies seek to capture market share and place great focus on reducing operational costs. This is how we can contribute, with our services and consulting teams helping companies reduce costs. In the past, we only offered these services to our direct customers; now, however, we offer them to the entire food industry.

Tetra Pak is recognized as one of the most attractive companies to work for in the region. How do you attract and retain the best human talent?

The company’s number one component is its strong core values, by which we always try to live. One of these values is fun, which is rarely enumerated as a core company value. We work to make sure our people are happy. We offer our employees the option of working from home, which is not that common in Panama. We also encourage them time to be active and engage in sports. We have team and family activities and work to ensure we are a family rather than just colleagues. Another key component that makes a difference is our long-term vision. We are a private company, and we focus a great deal on long-term results. Quality in innovation is also extremely important; we are always working to provide new packages, services, and products to maximize our position within the food industry. The human talent in Panama is excellent, which is part of the reason why we focus our operations in this area. It is extremely easy to find top-quality people.

Can you elaborate on your sustainability initiatives?

As we continue our journey, our ambition is to have a 100% renewable package. Right now, our packaging is 100% recyclable, though the idea is to have one that is both. In 2018, we will commemorate the 10th anniversary of “Tu Papel Cuenta” campaign in Panama, which aims to create awareness among local consumers to recycle their packages and other materials. We have already ensured that the paper in our packaging comes from renewable, well-managed forests. Now, the plastic in our cap also comes from a renewable source. We also put the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) logo on all our packages to let consumers know the materials used in this packaging comes from well-managed forests and other controlled sources. This is extremely important in countries such as Costa Rica, where there is a strong focus on the environment.



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