Business in a tough economy
It has an interesting name: Centroic Panama; and an even more interesting business strategy. When sales for new homes, condominiums and ...
It has an interesting name: Centroic Panama; and an even more interesting business strategy. When sales for new homes, condominiums and office buildings are depressed worldwide, there’s a Panamanian business that is turning this downside state of affairs into an upside opportunity!
The Chief Executive Officer and President of Centroic Panama, Jose Maria Godia Ribes, is a Spaniard who establish ed this business a few years ago in Panama City. His strategy was simple. [Most great ideas are.] He also had an intuitive sense about the future. As some people were suspecting a housing downturn, Jose Maria was already acting on the premise that it was inevitable.
Jose Maria Godia Ribes further hypothesized that a depressed housing market would also have a chain reaction on any ancillary business that directly depended on new construction, such as retail and commercial furniture, interior accessories, appliances; as well as many professionals such as architects, contractors and builders. “You know how it goes,” a smiling Jose Maria stated to me recently. “Sometimes you just have a hunch about things. I guessed right. That’s all!”
Of course, as ‘Monday morning quarterbacks’, we all know now that he was right. But just exactly what is Centroic Panama and how does his business benefit from all of this?
“Centroic Panama is actually an expo showroom,” Jose Maria explained. “It’s where Panamanian manufacturers and suppliers of building products and related items can expose their goods to a niche audience that is interested in seeing and learning more about the latest widget.”
In other words, Centroic Panama is the cool place to visit. There is a bevy of international trade shows and events that do essentially the same thing, but on a much larger scale. For example, there is the China International Hardware Show coming up in September in Shanghai. There, you’ll be able to see the latest innovations in all sorts of hardware, and products for kitchens, bathrooms, and more. It will also be a great place to learn about emerging trends, green materials and energy saving construction developments. Then, there’s the International Builders Show in Dubai? and so on. So? think of Centroic Panama as being a smaller version of all of these types of specialty expos.
Under normal circumstances, Jose Maria’s business was doing well with his Panamanian base. However, in following his “hunch”, he took a risk and looked toward one of the largest markets in the world for new business –the US.
“Several years ago, I started to think about Panama’s economic position within the world stage,” said Jose Maria. “In my mind, Panama is the financial gateway to Latin America and in many respects the high water mark for economic stability. I felt we had as good, if not a better chance of weathering any economic storm.”
“I also felt that if that were the case, then many US manufacturers and suppliers of building materials would turn to Panama as a new market to sell their products.”
Then with a broad smile he added, “The only problem was figuring out how to contact that US database and to do two other things. Tell them about Panama and why it’s a great place to do business. And, tell them about Centroic Panama.”
Even though Jose Maria was smiling about his strategic challenges, it was not an easy feat to accomplish. In fact, it took him over a year to put all the pieces together before he could start tapping into the US market. But the result was worth it. I asked if he had his eye on other international markets, but his answer came in the form of another signature smile – more like the preverbal ‘Cheshire Cat’. I took that as a yes.