Written by: Rebecca Castrejon, Editor
Produced by Ana Cardenas, Manufacturing Projects Manager for WDM Group
Interviewee Adriana Gonzalez, General Manager for Kimberly-Clark Ecuador
Kimberly-Clark affiliates in Latin America manage corporate and local brands with the mission to achieve leadership in each of their markets. KC Ecuador is no exception to any effort focused on reaching this goal, since the subsidiary has performed toward constant expansion and adding new products during its 20-year old presence in the country.
"I've been fortunate enough to grow along Kimberly-Clark in Latin America, developing a category in the region, reaching a more than $1 billion value, and with a double digit growth rate in revenue," detailed Adriana Gonzalez, current general manager for Kimberly-Clark Ecuador.
Gonzalez, an industrial engineer at first, became an expert in business administration and marketing. The executive has worked for Kimberly-Clark for the last 18 years. She has been in charge of Ecuadorian operations since June 2012.
Her closeness to consumers in Ecuador and in any other market where her managed brands have presence is due to an able understanding of user's needs, learned from marketing surveys. Results from these are analyzed in Kimberly-Clark innovation centers, where improvements for any product are developed.
Though KCE's outstanding growth is a result from the fusion-acquisition of Ecuapel S.A., Industrial La Reforma Jacinto Jouvin Arce C.A. paper mills and Mimo S.A. Mimosa personal care manufacturer, the key factors to achieving constant leadership have been high investments in machinery, developing automation procedures and improving conditions for its workforce.
"We currently have a turnover of more than $160 millions; we are very strong in Ecuador, hence our possibilities for growth are focused on investments rather than from acquisitions," the general manager explained.
Nevertheless, KCE is open to growing along other companies through strategic partnerships.
KCE stands out for being a high revenue source built through inorganic growth, able to achieve market penetration. This success has allowed the affiliate to invest more than $120 million in Ecuador to develop new job positions within a context of commercial progress.
Some examples of KCE's success in positioning Ecuador-bred brands in the South American market and regional brands into the Ecuadorian market have been:
1. Establishing Huggies diapers as the consumers' preferred brand.
2. Positioning Flor and Scott as the brand for toilet paper, after both brands have been present for years now in Ecuadorian households, with innovations and proposals of added value.
3. Kimberly-Clark's growth in Ecuador, from being a 40-employee distribution operation to become a 600 employee-plus manufacturer, creating other 2,000 indirect jobs.
"We always consider bringing home the best rewards for our staff, consumers, clients and stakeholders, as a retribution for how successful they make us feel with every purchase of our products," Gonzalez added.
"Our human resource is what's most important to us," the executive stated, sharing also that KCE's rapid growth is also due to the staff's hard work.
To enhance its engagement to its hired staff, the company has develop different training programs and continuous improvement procedures through global organizational culture and by means of the Kimberly-Clark University, a training program partnered with major colleges in the U.S. (Purdue University, Stanford, for example) and online education classes through Harvard ManageMentor®, and with global forums about new advances in technology and fields such as business, marketing, management and others.
These continuing education programs are focused for workers to bring out the most of their potential and grow within Kimberly-Clark.
"We want to make a continual knowledge transference procedure out of these programs, which is a very valuable asset for the staff at KCE," pointed Gonzalez.
Regarding talent exportation, Gonzalez mentioned that there are several KC executives that first started at one affiliate or other and ended up in upper management positions within the corporation's different brands and territories.
Other global initiatives from Kimberly-Clark include the opening - five years ago - of a human resource strategic development center in Brazil called Blue Ocean Institute, which has already partnered with important universities from all over the world, with teachers such as Renee Melbourne.
Besides maintaining the corporation's global standards for quality in every product, KCE set its sight on lean manufacturing, in order to optimize every procedure, increase productivity and reduce waste.
"We sum more than 6,000 hours of training among our staff to display the lean philosophy within our operations," the executive expressed.