/// Interviews

Interview with Mr. Eloy S. Vallina Lagüera, President of "Grupo Chihuahua"

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Global Business (GB): What is your professional background and history and how was the group formed?

I was born in Chihuahua into a family with a history marked by events and social changes surrounding the Mexican Revolution. After constantly changing residences, my family finally settled in Chihuahua, where Banco Comercial Mexicano was founded; it went out of business in 1982, when the banking system was nationalized. It was the third largest bank in Mexico. I witnessed the whole nationalization process of Mexican banks, which was difficult. Before the process of expropriation, my father founded an industrial conglomerate that purchased forests in nearby mountains to supply raw materials to industries. A pulp long fiber plant was built along with a thin white paper facility and a brown paper plant. They were joined by a rayon plant, a plywood production unit and a particleboard manufacturing line. Chihuahua Group was born. The expropriation of Chihuahua’s forests in 1971 made life difficult and reduced our competitive advantages as we were no longer vertically integrated. We decided to leave the industrial sphere in favor of other business alternatives and that's how we started in the logistics sector, where we have been growing and expanding at a good pace.

GB: How did the San Jeronimo project come to life?

San Jeronimo was born because we saw the opportunity to develop a major industrial park. With this project we want to achieve a productive synergy in the border area and stop being regarded as “the backyard”. We will achieve this by creating chains to boost competitiveness and productivity in the industry and invest in commercial development. The project is at an early stage, as first we have to create industry for there to be jobs. Once we have done that, we will begin the second phase which is the building of housing complexes for workers, decent homes, green areas, parks and so on. We want to create a desirable living area and offer real quality of life for workers and their families. Arrangements are already in place for the first 500 houses, with the final total expected to reach 3,200 homes. In the past two years, San Jeronimo has sparked a lot of interest in the market, every day we have even more people seeking information about the project. A great advantage is there is not significant industrialization in New Mexico, maybe the conditions and its position are not industrial friendly, but it can certainly has the potential to become successful industrial hub.

GB: How will the San Jeronimo project evolve in the long term?

We have 3,500 hectares approved for its first stage, from a total of 19,000 hectares. The first phase involves the creation of an industrial park to generate the jobs needed to form a productive circle. When China reduced its input in the manufacturing sector, this allowed Mexico to grow in such direction, which is why we want to take advantage by creating and promoting an industrial zone. We look to improve people’s quality of life and border conditions, giving order to population and economic development and setting an example of urban planning worldwide.

GB: Is the San Jeronimo project focused on a specific industry or open to all sectors?

The project is open to any business in any sector, but we have not ruled out specializing in a given field. For instance, Chihuahua is very strong in the aerospace industry and in the last 10 years the largest investment in the state has been in that field. Therefore, San Jeronimo could eventually concentrate on the aerospace cluster. As the first land crossing from east to west, San Jeronimo facilitates the transportation of many products of all sizes.

GB: What are the expected advantages of San Jeronimo and Accel Logistics, given now is Mexico’s Moment and the reactivation of the economy thanks to growth in the EU?

Structural reforms adopted by the government are a strong incentive for investment, job creation and economic growth. Many people expected to see the changes from the day the reforms occurred, but that was only the beginning of the transformation of key economic areas like the financial and energy sectors. We see opportunities to develop and promote our business and, at the same time, generate jobs and growth.

GB: Where do you see Grupo Chihuahua in 10 years?

I’m a realist and firmly believe we have the opportunity to achieve significant growth by defining which areas have the best potential; one of them is real estate. We have a plant where we produce candy and nuts and our main market is the US and we have very good customers. Our annual growth in the past five years has been 15-17%, so we want that business area to detonate explosive growth to generate profits and create jobs.