Interview with Marcelo Ghio. Sales Manager Latin America & Caribbean Tecnopol Sistemas.
Marcelo has worked in the building materials industry for a long time and possesses extensive knowledge of the Latin American market. It is difficult to talk about such a large market without indulging in generalities, but are there common elements that differentiate the way we design and build in Europe or the United States?
Latin America has its way of doing things, on the basis of its ethnic multiculturalism, in different areas within the same region. If we look at the way building is carried out in the United States (especially family homes) with lightweight structures, it is not the overriding pattern in Latin America, with the European style of traditional construction being the most common type in this region. Although it is also true that lightweight construction is not widespread, it has gained a sizeable market share in markets that can maintain higher labour costs.
In the industrial sector, U.S. products are highly integrated in the GDP of Central America, the Caribbean and especially Colombia, where the traditional waterproofing and thermal insulation systems used in the U.S. have greater influence. Although attempts to gain ground are being made by European companies based in this area.
If we go to the South (Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia) European construction is predominant with a significant share of European companies in the area.
While it is true that in markets such as Mexico, Peru, to a lesser extent Chile, Colombia, Central America, the Caribbean and also in part Brazil, some ASTM standards are followed that compete with European standards, I believe that in this segment Europe should strengthen its regulatory structure to gain more acceptance in the area. Big countries such as Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and Colombia have their own regulations, in some cases based on ASTM standards.
Do you think that the construction sector is very familiar with the applications of products such as polyurea?
No, it is an emerging niche market. It has great opportunities for growth because it is versatile, resistant to chemicals and reliably water repellent as shown by the hundreds of thousands of m2 applied over the last 20 years.
For our part we have a great job to do to make specifiers, builders, applicators, etc., aware of the benefits of using Tecnocoat polyurea as an integral waterproofing system. In my opinion, polyurea is at the top of the waterproofing pyramid, being the first-rate solution above any other solution or system.
Have the recent changes in residential dynamics and the normalisation of teleworking proven to be an opportunity for the rehabilitation of all types of buildings and boost the industry?
The answer is yes. The pandemic and teleworking in the Latin American area was a great opportunity for our company, considering that many people with restricted availability pre-pandemic did not have much time available. The pandemic helped us to change our professional habits and also to change our list of priorities. Together with David our Technical Director, we used teleworking a lot to organise a huge amount of “technical and commercial talks” in different markets and with different actors. We used this format in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Paraguay, etc.
IT support tools such as Teams which we were offered through the company, was key to developing this strategy which has had excellent results.
Buildings have to be more eco-efficient due to climate change, is this factor considered in new projects?
Look, in Latin America there is wide range of views with respect to this issue. Personally, when we analyse a market, I have a premise which is the following: "When a country exceeds 6,000 euros per capita it starts to waterproof better, when it exceeds 9,000 euros it starts to insulate better thermally and when it exceeds 12,000 euros it starts to insulate better acoustically". In Latin America, from Mexico to Argentina there is a wide range of differences in income, consequently, as a variable which to a certain degree is constant, there are some sectors, both for residential housing and for the housing of industrial units, that are able to comply with eco-efficiency, but many do not.
Regulations and certifications change from country to country. Is this an obstacle or a competitive advantage for Tecnopol products?
Como te comenté, en una de las respuestas anteriores, creo que la Unión Europea debería trabajar más sobre la oportunidad que la normativa europea sirve de base para la normativa nacional en los distintos países de América Latina, en especial en los países de mayor PBI como México, Brasil, Argentina, Colombia y Chile.
Nuestro sistema Tecnocoat, es el que mayor cantidad de documentos técnicos emitidos por organismos independientes tiene y esta situación influye positivamente en obras de relevancia por la seguridad que aporta a los prescriptores.
Of the projects on which you have collaborated, which would you highlight because of its significance in terms of architecture, symbolism or complexity?
As far as our Tecnocoat system is concerned, a project is not complex if the application parameters we suggest are met, due to the versatility thereof, the reliability and speed for the implementation of the work.
If I may, regarding its symbolism, I would choose a square of approximately 11,000 m2 that we waterproofed with Tecnocoat behind the Casa Rosada (President's Office) in Argentina, which houses a parking lot with official cars and is part of the historical heritage in this country.
Does digitisation make it easier to provide technical service in an efficient way on all types of construction sites?
Totally and I think that through innovation from the marketing and technical area our company leads this segment (videos on application, Instagram, Linkedin, Facebook, etc., group and individual talks via Teams, etc.) collaborating a lot with our area. When the technical and marketing area participates in any of the projects we manage, the result always easily exceeds expectations.