In the early 1990s, Harvard MBA student Carlos Mattos attended a conference given by the president of the American-Korean Chamber of Commerce president, and was struck by the idea of importing Korean products into his native country of Colombia.
After the talk, Mr. Mattos approached the Korean and inquired what brands were looking to be globalized. After receiving the answer that several automotive makers wished to enter foreign markets, a young Mr. Mattos got in contact with Hyundai
and by 1992 had been chosen to be the Korean company’s distributor in Colombia. Through inspiration, and some rather unconventional marketing tactics at a local car show, Mr. Mattos managed to sell 200 vehicles, surpassing even his own expectations and impressing the Koreans.
Today, Mr. Mattos’ Hyundai empire comprises 36 dealers and 54 outlets, and sales exceed $1 billion. Hyundai Colombia is the third company in the country, and ranks first in imports.
“We’ve been named Best Distributor for Latin America seven times, and two times as the Best Distributor Worldwide,” boasts Mr. Mattos. “We’ve always fulfilled the annual sale goals that Hyundai has set for us.”
Seeing opportunities in other areas, Mr. Mattos has taken his business shrewdness beyond the automotive sector. He has already entered the U.S. market with real estate projects and this year Mr. Mattos, who ranks among Colombia’s wealthiest men, has teamed up with Poma Group in a local project that will have a positive social impact.
“We are in a joint venture to improve a run-down area in Cartagena de Indias, called Chambacu. We want to develop a residential complex in a six-hectare lot as a point of reference for the local citizens and the national and foreign tourism in the city,” he explains. “The project is at an advanced stage and will help the community interact more and provide many jobs.”