Next Thursday, June 19, Silos Córdoba will be honored with the recognition Cordobeses of the Year awarded by Diario Cordoba Journal in recognition of its business development. The company was founded in 1975 by Juan Lopez and is now in its second generation. The current CEO, Juan López Regalón, humbly explains that “an award is just recognition of something already past, the future must be worked”, but he admits that the award is also a motivation for workers. Its activity covers the livestock equipment, grain storage facilities, conveying machinery and metal coatings. Currently, they export to 34 countries and will be hiring about 20 people who will join the company when they move the headquarters to Technological Science Park Rabanales 21. They also hope to have new infrastructures in El Carpio in the years to come for the production of machines.
– We often talk about the difficulties of making a family business survive over different generations. What has been the key in the case of Silos Córdoba?
I don’t think there is a single one, but among the most important key is the fact that the next generation must be empowered to make decisions in parallel with the previous generation, in a way that the taking over is done progressively.
– Is your father still present and giving you advise?
Yes, he is retired but he continues working at the company.
– You’ve been exporting your products to different countries for two decades. Do you remember how it all started?
It seems like yesterday. It is a project I started when I began working in the company. We made a strategic plan and started from an association of exporters of agricultural machinery in Bilbao.
– What was the first foreign country to which you brought your products?
Chile and Morocco. In Portugal we were also exporting something, but with a more defined plan, in Chile and Morocco.
– And twenty years ago, you were not seen as a rare company for trying to sell abroad?
There were already exporting companies. But we were a very small company, and it is true that not many companies our size were exporting at the time. We had our own product and we knew what we wanted, our industry and segment, which is often the most difficult part to define.
– Currently working in around 34 countries, how has the company evolved to become an exporting company?
There are now eight people in the commercial department, we have an office in some countries and area managers in charge of different areas.
– Institutions are encouraging companies to expand markets and going out of Córdoba, especially with the crisis. How do you see the entrepreneurship?
This issue has been among us for many years, before the crisis. We started with Extenda (Trade Promotion Agency of Andalusia) that was called CDA (Andalusian Products Distributor) and was born at that time. The Institute of Foreign Trade, which is a much older organization, made a pre-crisis program named PIPE 2000, which was brought along with the chambers of commerce. Their objective was to have 2000 new exporting companies for the year 2000. But exporting without a focused plan, and often by necessity when things are really bad, is very difficult.
– In 2013 the turnover amounted to 46 million euros. Expectations are to grow again this year despite the recession.
In our industry, times are not bad at a worldwide level. If you focus on specific countries, like Spain, times are bad. But in Spain, times have been bad for a long time, not only since 2008. We seek opportunities in other growing areas of the world.
– It’s about looking for the positive, right?
We should not focus on the downside of the market – although it should be obviously analyzed – but on the side were new opportunities may arise.
– Right now, what objectives are set to keep growth?
We have several strategic lines. The main line, in which we have been working for a few years, is to be a global solution provider for the storage and preservation of cereal. Not only a manufacturer of silos, as we were ten years ago, but a solution provider. We call “solution” to the full grain storage facility, since the cereal is harvested until it is processed by a manufacturing process into food or animal feed. We have been leaders in Europe in silos manufacturing some years, but our strategy is to be leaders in providing solutions. Another strategic line is the development of new markets. In September this year we will be 21 years of exporting.
– How can you balance work, managing a company with 108 workers, and personal life?
You have to like it, to be passionate about it. I think a job without passion you cannot be well done. The hardest part is to travel all time.
– How is the project to move to Rabanales 21?
We already have the R & D department and a pilot plant for testing machines at Rabanales 21. Last week, we started works to build the new Factory, which will move from Las Quemadas. We hope to be there in March next year, production and offices.
– What investment will be needed?
The investment will be of about seven million euros.
Photo: Juan López, General Manager at Silos Cordoba
Age: 41 years
Education: Master in Business Administration
View original article at Diario Córdoba