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Interview

Horacio Fajer Cardona, Director, Kidde Mexico

10.03.2014 / Energyboardroom

“The reforms should create an increased demand for trained and experienced talent in our field. We are uniquely positioned to capitalize on this requirement, as we have many skilled employees whom we ensure get the training required to keep up with their certifications,” states Horacio Fajer Cardona, Director of Kidde, while discussing the imminent energy reforms in Mexico.    


In terms of industry investments, how has the situation in Mexico changed and evolved over the past couple of years?

There has been little change. Progress has been slow and, from a public investment perspective, most budgets have not been implemented quickly enough, if at all. In turn, this has a negative effect on all markets and the energy sector is no exception.

From an operational perspective, the eagerness and desire to advance is evidently present. We are waiting patiently for the political and governmental bodies to be in a position to resume public investment.

How have you responded to this situation?

The most important asset we have is our team of highly trained technicians; however, matching our investment with market expansion is also key. We have the talent, so our customers, namely Pemex, expect us to continue to provide technically proficient staff for their job sites. Unclear expectations make forecasting these requirements more difficult.

Late last year, Pemex suffered from a series of blazes, most notably in its natural gas facility in northern Mexico and the Madero refinery in Tamaulipas. How do you believe these incidents changed Pemex’s attitude towards safety?

I would defer to Pemex on this question. But I will say that in our dealings with Pemex, their commitment to safety is evident. In our experience, they have been rather proactive in adopting a framework of policies with the intention of creating a safe working environment.

Is it still the case today that the offshore and marine segment of your business is, in fact, a strong contributor to your growth due to the expanded relationship with Pemex?

Our relationship with Pemex has played a key role in our business, but we have also been working diligently to branch out into horizontal industries including refining and power. Our efforts have paid off and our onshore operations have been gaining traction in the recent past. For example, we have been working on a new project with the Federal Commission of Electricity (CFE) in Salamanca.

I believe these new projects are a reflection of our unwavering commitment to ethical and safety standards. We have a code of ethics to which we adhere and we deal fairly in the market place. This attracts customers who want to ensure that they can trust their vendors. We are very strong in the environmental, health and safety aspects and hold continuous reviews to see how we can improve.   Indeed, we have been acknowledged as having the best operations safety record with Pemex. Another key component of our competitive excellence is the quality system we implement, designed to constantly enhance our processes to ensure that we only deliver quality products. Continuous improvement is a journey that never ends.

What is the relative importance of the offshore sector compared to the onshore operations you have now?

In terms of performance, offshore continues to represent an important segment of our business, but we are seeing more and more opportunities for onshore applications of our products and services.

With significant planned investments in both the onshore and offshore sectors in Mexico, how optimistic are you about the future?

I am quite optimistic. We need to closely study and develop strategies to ensure continued growth.  The conventional oil industry is very important for us over the next 25 years, as is the power industry, as the demands for natural gas will rise sharply. We will hopefully see investments in infrastructure supporting these industries and we intend to position ourselves to take advantage of those opportunities.

Given your close relationship with Pemex and their position in the Mexican industry, what are the key success factors for establishing a lasting partnership with them?

Companies must have a clear way of operating and a consistency in their policies in order to best serve a customer like Pemex. It is important that they know how we will interact and partner with them, and it is important that we adhere to our core ethics, with a focus on Safety and Quality. This predictability promotes trust.

The proposed reforms in Mexico’s oil and gas industry are certainly a hot topic in the local industry. Considering that you hold a significant maintenance contract with Pemex, how do you expect these reforms to impact your business should they occur?

As a whole, this will be for the greater good, as more players will be allowed to participate in Mexico’s oil and gas industry.

From an integrated safety solutions viewpoint, the reforms will enhance safety generally, as well as for Pemex’s operations specifically, because they introduce new and improved safety concepts. This represents an opportunity for others in the value chain to interact with Pemex. The reforms should create an increased demand for trained and experienced talent in our field. We are uniquely positioned to capitalize on this requirement, as we have many skilled employees whom we ensure get the training required to keep up with their certifications.

What are some of the most exciting products and technologies Kidde has recently introduced, or plans to introduce, and how will they benefit the industry?

One of our sister companies, and a partner in a Pemex contract with us, is the flame and gas company Detector Electronics. Approximately half of the products we use and administrate are derived directly from Detector Electronics. They are internationally recognized by the oil and gas industry for providing the best flame detectors in our industry. For instance, they have also been working heavily in the field of gas detection and have released a rather interesting new product. More specifically, they have developed an advanced industry first detector that can confirm a pipeline leak by listening to ultrasonic sounds.

Another important consideration is the fact that we possess the expertise and ability to design and implement a comprehensive and integrated system. Risk assessment, possessing the proper means to minimizing that risk and offering an integrated fire system solution is our specialty. This knowledge is by no measure easy to replicate and this puts our clients and us at a clear advantage.

Having expanded your Kidde’s footprint in Mexico since your appointment as director in 2005, what are the next steps for the company? What are your aspirations for the foreseeable future?

For the next two years, we must remain disciplined and focus on the development of our power generation business segment. There are still a number of opportunities to be had in that niche and we intend to capitalize on those. At the same time, we need to sustain the relevance we have built up within Pemex. This is especially true if the energy reforms proceed as planned and our services become more in demand.

Ultimately, it boils down to one central topic: developing the talent we need to support our growth. This is a primary focus for me personally in my role within the company. I believe that contributing toward the development of local talent, both professionally and personally, is the foundation of a successful business. It is also important to look ahead to the next generation of leaders. To this end we have initiated a partnership with Carmen University in Ciudad del Carmen to develop an engineering curriculum dedicated to fire safety. If this is successful, we plan to propagate this discipline across the country with other educational institutions as well.

 

To read more interviews and articles on Mexico, and to download the latest free report on the country, click here.

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