Colombian-based glass business group ranks among Florida's leading glass companies
In the context of an uncertain global economy, Colombia’s leading glass manufacturing business group made up of Energía Solar-ES Windows, Tecnoglass and Alutions is one of the few and fortunate enterprises that have not felt the pressures of current economic uncertainties. “On the contrary, we are observing a growing Colombian economy, dynamic, with strong national and foreign investments. And despite the revaluation, we are increasing our exports and national sales,” says José Manuel Daes, President of Energía Solar-ES Windows.
Stalled for over five years in Washington, the long-awaited approval of the free trade agreement (FTA), which liberated trade barriers between Colombia and the United States, is a factor that is not only expected to contribute to Colombia’s economic growth rate, but finally relieve companies’ restraints on planning long-term operations and investments. “With the free trade agreement our products are considered fit for the ‘Buy American’ initiative, which allows us to bid on all government work,” explains José Manuel.
Energía Solar-ES Windows, established in 1984, was the first of the group’s companies to enter the market, after which Tecnoglass was set up in 1994 and Alutions in 2007. The group established its glass manufacturing plants in Colombia’s strategically located northern port of Barranquilla, and is today one of the country’s leading companies continuously expanding throughout the United States having made its base in the south of Florida.
Specializing in the manufacturing of glass and glass transformation, the company’s products even include those resistant to the impacts of long-range missiles and Grade 6 hurricanes.
Barranquilla, opening a new window to the world
Barranquilla, an industrial port city with an active business culture, nationally and internationally connected by air and sea, is not only home to a strong and varied workforce but it also boasts one of Colombia’s lowest costs of living – a reason why many companies choose to set up there.
“Barranquilla has changed radically with regards to its willingness to host new businesses and industrial developments. Thanks to our recent Mayors, we now have a full range of public services, which was one of our greatest weaknesses; our road network continues to improve, and our ports have improved their capacity and services,” explains Christian Daes, President of Tecnoglass.
The ratification of the FTA has contributed greatly to changing the face of the city, and businesses are now working to make their town the busy hub it used to be before the country’s political turmoil. The group is intent on making Barranquilla the window capital of the world.
“Barranquilla has the only fully integrated company to produce windows and facades, with our own extruded aluminum, two press machines with a third on the way, seven horizontal tempering furnaces, two curved tempering furnaces, five lamination lines, two insulating glass lines, a screen printing line and more, as well as the most efficient window and façade manufacturing plant with the best market prices,” says José Manuel.
The group in focus
The Daes brothers recall the group’s first experiences in the North American market: “Due to the collapse of the Colombian market in 1995, we began to seek external markets and that's how we entered the U.S., but as some local suppliers failed to fulfill their duties or were of poor quality, it was difficult for us to convince them that a Colombian company could meet demands of quality, time and complete deliveries. So we established a strict program of quality and logistics to distinguish us from the competition,” says José Manuel.
The group’s successful expansion across the American market is acknowledged in the sector’s trade publications. Due to its significant U.S. presence, it figures among the top six in Glass Magazine’s “Top Glass Fabricators” (December 2011 issue), and is the only company in the list whose fabrication plants are located outside the U.S. or Canada.
Present in Argentina, Aruba, Colombia, Costa Rica, Panama, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, the group’s lauded projects in the U.S. include the W Hotel in Miami, the South Miami Dade Cultural Arts Center and the Texan Wyly Theatre.
Particularly close ties are maintained with Miami, considered by the company as its FTA hub. “Miami is undoubtedly the capital of the south of America, and as such most Latin American businesses are set up there. Our companies are very close to Miami and it is our intention to always grow in that city,” says Mr. Daes.
Having worked for years to distinguish its brand from competitors by maintaining standards above those of the industry and competitors, the group’s focus remains on expansion and innovation, particularly in the American market and Brazil. The company sees the construction sector becoming increasingly focused on energy-saving products, and is concentrating efforts in this area.
“These are the areas on which the development of our new products is based: high efficiency, environmentally friendly and extremely energy saving,” concludes Mr. Daes.