"Technology-wise, we are among the few distributors to have our own laboratories as well as in-house employees to support our providers and customers domestically directly."
The Covid-19 pandemic has been challenging for distributors, particularly from a costs and logistics standpoint. How has Kemikals dealt with this?
As importers, we had to take care of many logistical challenges with the pandemic. Our lead times stretched to as long as four months and we were having to make decisions in Mexico with clients as quickly as within 24 hours. A lot of our customers were calling to reduce their purchases from months to weeks given the uncertainty that they might be ordered to lock-down, for example. In the meantime, our orders kept flowing and we ran the risk of incurring an inventory surplus. Establishing clear communication with our clients and providers was of paramount importance in order to find a middle ground.
The pandemic also created challenges due to currency fluctuations. During the onset of the pandemic the dollar appreciated to almost 25 pesos per dollar. This complicates our business because we sell in pesos and fulfill our commitment to distributors in dollars and euros, which represented challenges in liquidity and also logistically in terms of inventory. To our surprise, the coatings industry was not as affected by the pandemic as we feared at one point. In fact, by June 2020 orders had recovered and even exceeded pre-pandemic levels. This was because lockdown brought renewed interest to matters of home improvement. In general, our distribution strategy during 2020 had to be constantly monitored and updated.
As well as a distributor, Kemikals is a technology provider focused on adding value to customers and suppliers. How does the company add value in this regard?
Adding value is at the forefront of our company’s purpose. Technology-wise, we are among the few distributors to have our own laboratories as well as in-house employees to support our providers and customers domestically directly. Distributors with international scopes can be slow in responding to clients. Having technical and local support capacities allows Kemikals to go beyond being just a broker. Understanding the needs of our clients is key for Kemikals because it allows us to be more proactive and cognizant of market trends.
The chemical distribution market in Mexico is competitive. How do you stand out from the crowd?
Kemikals is a customer-oriented company in all aspects. We are commercial partners to our distributors and clients and make an effort to understand what their needs and challenges are in order to provide the best solution. Big distributors tend to lose agility and the capacity to attend to clients individually. Therefore, we have focused on our attention to the client. Additionally, we have focused on bringing products that are innovative. This has meant getting away from commodities and focusing on additives that are functional and specialized products with a clear differentiator.
Looking forward, what would you say is the company’s main focus for the next two years?
We are firmly committed to supplying the industry with innovative products geared for environmental sustainability. Last year, we presented ourselves to the industry with a new slogan “Nos aplicamos con inovación sustentable” (We are committed to sustainable innovation). This is part of our campaign to bring non-polluting products from European distributors. Unfortunately, the onset of the Coronavirus threw us and the entire industry into survival mode, which took the spotlight away from our campaigns for greener supplies. However, we are committed to regaining that focus because sustainability differentiates us as distributors and makes a difference across the production chain for manufacturers and users. Additionally, during upcoming years we want to grow our sales and market presence. Diverging from commodities and focusing on specialized products is aligned with that ambition.
Do you have a final message for the readers of Chemical Week and Global Business Reports?
Kemikals is a young and upcoming company that is committed to the industry and serious about the needs of our clients. We want to add value and help the industry progress in the right direction. We see the Mexican chemicals industry as an ensemble and are focused on doing our part in its betterment.