with Rolando Maggi Versteeg, FCM Mexico
Could you please introduce the company to our readers and give some background information about FCM?
FCM is a very young company created in 2009. The personnel and all the people involved in FCM are very young. I am proud to say that we are one of the youngest companies in the Mexican Oil and Gas industry. To give you a brief background about the company when I graduated from college as an industrial engineer I started to look into different opportunities and talking with my actual partner Mr. Mariano Hernandez, who is heavily involved in the oil and gas industry we saw that there was a great potential to provide certain kind of services. After a couple of months evaluating different strategies, we received a proposal from Kimray Inc., which is an American brand for control equipment, based in Oklahoma, to become the company’s exclusive distributor in Mexico. We took their offer and that is how we started the new company. FCM started as a 100 percent marketing company. During 2009 we only distributed Kimray products. When we started I was not really familiar with the oil and gas industry and this was the first real company that I founded so it was kind of a slow start for us. Moreover, we decide that we had to begin with human resources that were going to be trained and develop in house, we didn’t want to bring on board people of other companies since they will have the habits of the past companies. We wanted FCM personnel; meaning people helping each other grow and work as a team. Starting from scratch, we hired people with no experience, several of them with no oil and gas background either, therefore this was another factor that slow our growth in the begging. However, as we passed the steep learning curve, we knew we made the right decisions that helped us build the company that we are today.
How challenging has it been for you to be the new kid on the block?
It has been hard, specially at the beginning where the customer does not know who you are and has never heard of FCM. Also, the fact that we were all young did not help much with senior people. However, after personalized attention to the matter at hand and through product testing, you start to gain your customers trust and they recognize that FCM is a company that tries to sell what the customer really needs. In the Mexican Oil & Gas industry one of the biggest challenges is the purchasing system, where the law forbids direct purchasing from Pemex for new products. Hence even if I have the best product it needs to go through a public bidding process. Saying that, you end doing two sales: to Pemex and to all the bidders. As you can imagine the process tends to be very slow. Getting used to this pace is a little frustrating, as I had only worked previously with private companies where they don’t need to go through a long process to take decisions. For PEMEX this is normal, since it is a government owned company and the public bidding process is the most transparent way of doing business. With that in mind, you realize that it takes more time to see results.2009 was a hard year for us, since we were getting to know the process, the industry, the customers etc. But after that year, we have being doing better. Indeed, within the second year of our operations we did an exhibition at the Congreso Nacional del Petroleo and received comments from our Kimray partners that even though we had not sell as much as we expected we did a good job because most of the people who were in the Congress knew our company and product. As I commented at the begging we started as a marketing company Kimray being the only brand we handled. As our business developed, at the beginning of 2010, we decided to include other lines of products to increase our growth, sales and revenues. FCM is here for the long run we have invested and we will keep on doing so for the years to come. We have decided that for at least the next 5 years we are not going to take anything out of the company because we want to grow as much as we can. Fortunately we have other income streams, so we do not have to exploit this company to live. Our aim today is to grow as much and as fast as we can, which might not be the best business model, because you get drawn into a lot more expenses that you should, however if we want to be a national company we need to follow that line.
What are the company’s core competencies?
Marketing will be our backbone; we will never stop being a marketing company. Nevertheless the big bucks are in service, so in September last year, we started pushing towards servicing contracts.In this context we created three lines of services. The first one, in which we already have a couple of contracts with Pemex, is to give mechanical maintenance services to Kimray products. These contracts are small in revenue and volume but safe and simple. The second line, a little bit more complicated, and the one that we are going to push as far as we can is automation, transmission and remote operation for oil and gas processes and data. We want to provide a specialized service, a tailor made solution, built specially for every customer and every application. The third line is well testing. We have lots of experience and some of the most technologically advanced trailer mounted test separators in Mexico. FCM will pursuit those 3 lines of services and of course marketing for the next years to come.
I understand you have three main partners (Virgo, Kimray and Mercer). How important is it for you to develop partnerships in order to grow your business?
As I mentioned, we have a very good partnership with 100 percent family owned company Kimray Inc. We also have an exclusive partnership with Virgo. Regarding Mercer, right now we are their distributor but we don’t have exclusivity yet. We tend to consider our partnerships very seriously. It is very simple for many companies to represent a lot of brands, but when you represent too many you don’t give the same care and attention to all of them. Hence, our plan for the time being is to stick to these three companies and perhaps in the near future bring in automation companies or manufacturers for automation. Having partners is not just about sales; it goes further than that. You need a commitment from both sides. You need to know that the manufacturer has your back and they need to know that you will handle their product with care and respect their company policies. It is a commitment for the long run.I believe that through partnerships we can all separately do what we are best at and grow together.
You have been in the industry for three years, if we come back here in five years what can we expect from FCM?
We hope we have grown several times what we are right now and by then we would like to be seriously involved in the 3 business lines for service. Our main goal is that FMC is known, in all of Pemex, as an excellent and reliable company. We do not want to be seen as just another contractor but as a trustable Pemex partner. To sum up we want to grow, build up our image, be an example of a successful Mexican company and diversify as much as we can. Who knows, maybe 5 years from now we might be thinking about going into the off-shore market with ships.
You are the youngest CEO we have interviewed in Mexico. Do you think this is more of a challenge or an opportunity? And how do you manage to impose yourself in an industry that is mostly run by senior people?
Being young and having a young company is not easy, it takes time to show them that you can do what you are telling them you can. However we like challenges and FCM will rise up to them and surpass expectations.
I am sure that with time the industry will start talking between them and recommending us because we do a good job at a reasonable price. We are sure we have a bright future in front of us. What would be your final message to young entrepreneurs that want to look into the Mexican Oil and Gas industry?
There are a lot of opportunities here. The cake is too big; there is a piece for everyone that has a good idea. If you want to get a piece of it, you just have to create new things. Avoid coming here to do the same others do to succeed you got to find something new, something that can be applied and can really make a difference – you need to innovate. Last and very importantly be very patient. Because even if you have the best product or services in the market, it is still going to take time to sell it, so you shall better be persistent.
To conclude would you like to send a message to PeMex?
Pemex shall be more open to work with national companies. Furthermore, they need to find out ways in order new companies can get into the market. I believe they should look into new innovative ways to work. Giving opportunities to new companies, new people (not just stick to the same players that have been in the market for many years) will give Pemex and the industry more dynamism and new fresh options.