Alfredo Peña: Graiman bets on Ecuador We are the main suppliers of porcelain floors in Peru. We are also present in Colombia, Chile, some Central American countries, and the United States. Alfredo Peña -CEO for Grupo Graiman- is the kind of person who believes that the worst decisions are the ones not taken. More important so when they involve challenging issues that force you to overcome your own limitations. This interview reveals the situation of one of Ecuador’s largest industries, and evidences that all efforts have been made to conquer international markets with premium products that are proudly Ecuadorian. Graiman presents a new dimension… Each year brings forth different challenges; we must assume a new commitment vis-à-vis the country, shareholders, our colleagues and those who purchase our products. We are renewing our vows omething inherent to any important anniversary, convinced that no barrier can prevent us from working with the same enthusiasm. Your products are competitive in the international market? The buyer, whether domestic or foreign, must be satisfied with the product quality, it´s design, variety of choices and prices. We work to meet the demands of the international market without neglecting to care for the local market. If we can provide locally we will reduce imports of this product, consequently preventing the outflow of dollars (our current currency), and supporting our economy. On the other hand, exporting our products opens the door to incoming dollars, therefore obtaining an added double benefit to the country. Which international markets do you supply? Investments we made during the last five years have enabled us to produce 30.000m2 of floor and wall materials daily. 30% of that total is for exportation. We now have the most thorough manufacturing plant in the region and are the main suppliers of porcelain floors in Peru. We are also present in Colombia, Chile, some Central American countries, and the United States. How many jobs are generated by Graiman? There are 2,000 people working with us; 80% at Cuenca and 20% nationwide. This is a family business that is very attached to its coworkers. Our corporate decisions are oriented to contributing to the productive growth of Ecuador, thus developing not only its economy, but also our people. We are ready to partake in public-private alliances to support the government with the proposal for the change in the country´s energetic matrix in order to face major growth in the next few years. How many companies comprise Grupo Graiman? We manage 13 construction-related industries; all created by my father under the same ethical and moral guidelines, and commitment to the country. The first one was founded 50 years ago and was related to the steel industry. It required the import of raw materials that had to be bought in dollars when our local currency was the Sucre, and my father did not totally agree to that fact, because what the country needed was incoming dollars. What was the option? He sought an industrial alternative based on domestic raw materials, incorporating technology, creativity, innovation and local labor, focused on attaining an export-oriented product. The answer was the ceramics industry, and this is how Graiman came to be. We have been operating for 25 years in the domestic market and are actively participating in the exports sector. The country’s prosperity during the last few years reflects in your industry? They have been very good years for the industry’s macroeconomics; however, certain particularities have also become apparent in our micro-reality. We lost our founder -my father- who was the pillar for the various firms, so we had to confront a generational change and an evolution of the company. This, along with the Government’s macroeconomic policies that assumed the challenge of injecting resources, resulted in an increase of our production which reflected positively in our total sales. What do you see as the challenge for 2015? That would be to increase our efforts to become more efficient. Industry is the source of economic stability for a country; the challenge lies within the effort of attaining a good work team that draws together the private and public sectors in order to create development. What we need is a clear set of rules to ensure labor stability and processes that attract long-term foreign investment, which will result in a well-managed local industry that combines public and private sectors to generate development for the country. Many years have gone by… Graiman has reached an adequate corporate maturity, adjusted to the actual period of time, without losing the essence of a family business that enhances the values that my father had instilled throughout his lifetime. With hard honest work, we export an Ecuadorian brand through a very professional industrial process, to create products with the highest quality standards, and every day we work to overcome our own limitations.