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Building with values

Interview - July 10, 2014
With environmental and societal values at its core, Valero Builders is looking to become one of the 3 most important construction companies in Guayaquil in the next few years. Architect and Executive President of Valero, Mr Luis Valero Brando, talks to Ibatin about the building firm’s quest.
The Valero construction company emerged in 1988 as a family business. In the 2000s with the crisis, it started working on a few municipal projects and it has come to distribute more than 100 hectares of residential areas. The public sector marked a significant workspace and mapping for the Valero Builders. Could you tell us a little about this partnership experience of the private construction company Valero with the public sector, and the municipality of Guayaquil?

In time of crisis there wasn´t a lot of work in the private sector and we looked to make contracts in the public sector. We started bidding and gladly submitted the company´s resume, we started getting contracts not only because of its economic price but because of the socioeconomic index factors of the company and its resume. And I estimate we will regenerate about 40-50% of Guayaquil at that time. We did very important constructions such as Puerto Hondo, La Playita, The Civil Register, plus we made technical revisions in Guayaquil stadiums, the Barcelona stadium, the Emelec stadium. We have built the La Paz park and also Telconect which is the data storage place. So the company has built for the people: the stadiums where many people go, La Paz park which is a recreation park where many people go, Telconect which is the entire city´s data storage place, it´s a data bank, the Civil Registry where everybody goes to register and it also has another database. We have built almost 100 hectares of residential developments, approximately about 350 houses and some buildings, hotels, hospitals: We built the Holiday Inn Hotel, we built the Alcivar Hospital, The El Niño Hospital, we are building the structure of the Monthe Sinaí Hospital, the structure of the Del Sur Hospital which holds 400 beds. We built the largest hotel in the city which is the prison for 3,500 people. We built everything.

Among these projects you mentioned you included the Civil Register. It´s a project that was built in 2006 and I think what´s more popular about it is its building record time: 4 months. How was it possible to build in such a short period of time and what does it mean to Valero Builders to deliver a project within the deadline?

We have always done it that way. In most contracts the company has respected the deadlines. It´s the result of planning, a command of the operations of the company: we worked for 24 hours, Saturday and Sundays, 24x7 here, I mean every day of the week working 24 hours. And we counted on a planning team we have here in the company. Each construction is planned from the start keeping in mind what kind of maneuver is needed and when they are needed, what type of material and when it´s needed, cash flow well done to respond to this project financially. And it was gladly a project with the Municipality, which is a serious institution which you can work with no problems, with trust, they legalize things right.

Because it´s very important when you are a public contractor that project management legalize work as it should be done. The Civil Register case was very interesting because Guayaquil had problems with that building and the mayor asked us to deliver the work before the deadline and we had it in 4 months.

Traditionally Valero Builders has targeted a middle class market, but thanks to its vision and entrepreneurship, it opted to expand its portfolio. Last year more than 1,000 houses were built targeting middle-low class.

We call it social interest class. We built a mall and a bridge in Milagro Street; we built an administrative office for a government institution in the city of Baigorria; we built a ground terminal in a canton that is called Puerto López. We have built stadiums, hospitals, houses, offices and departments. All of them are of social interest.

How has Valero Builders contributed to the social development of the city?

We are a company that holds more than 1,500 employees for 10 years and just considering this I think we have contributed quite enough. They are all affiliated with the Social Security, respecting the employees´ security regime, the law and paying taxes.

The company logo is “Steele and concrete is not enough, high ideals are needed to become a great construction company”. What are the company´s ideals?

The most important thing is to build with values. Around 60 engineers work here and the first thing that is communicated to people is to build with values, work with values, to know that things have to be done right, to respect the environment, to respect all employees, to respect the legal system of Ecuador.

What projects is Valero Builders working on in the future?

L.V.: At this time we are working on a great project called la The City of Air which is located around the Holiday Inn Hotel. We are working on a great construction there. We started a construction of approximately 15.000 square meters of offices this year and later other office buildings and departments will come. Approximately about 1,000 offices and 200 departments can be built there.

You studied in Madrid. How was your experience in Spain and how do you think a cooperation between Spanish and local companies could benefit the city of Guayaquil?

L.V.: One company always knows more than the other, one company has more weaknesses than the other. Therefore, through consortiums the advantages of each one can be used and very interesting syndicates can be made.

Are there opportunities for the foreign Spanish companies?

Only for the ones superior to the Ecuadorian to make consortiums. We qualify the consortiums but those companies must be superior in quality to enter the consortium. They must provide, not in financial terms but in terms of capability.

You have built a big part of the most important buildings, more representative of the city and you have granted a social development, also improving the city of Guayaquil. The College of Architects of Guayaquil has awarded you the prize of architects of the year in 2008.

That is correct. We were awarded the same prize in 2012.

What project are you proud of the most and also what project is pending in your heart that you would like to execute to leave an architect signature in the city of Guayaquil?

L.V.: The project I felt really good about finishing was the Civil Registry because of how fast it was done. It was a contest theme to build a building such as Civil Registry in 4 months, to me it was a challenge and it was very important. The second important building that was also a challenge, was building 70,000 square meters of the Guayaquil prison. I built it in consortium with Semaica company. We built a prison for 35,000 people on 70,000 square feet. But I liked working on those projects. If you don´t like working on a construction, it´s better not to do anything at all. It´s like having a child, you have to embrace it.

In regards to pending projects, I could mention the last project, called “La Ciudad del Aire”, it´s a project that emerged here in this office. One day when the owner of the land was here. We planned the project. Feeling very enthusiastic we made a business plan for the owner of the land to invest in it. The most important thing is to encourage the owners of land to develop projects for Guayaquil.

What is exactly the City of Air project?

It´s a group of condos around the Holiday Inn Hotel. It´s located between the airport and the ground terminal, it´s a 5 year work. This whole sector is going to improve considerably. There are going to be offices and rooms.

And why the name?

Because we are close to the airport.

Joaquín Olmedo Airport will relocate to Daular. What will that area be like in the future?

We are making that investment now because it will be about ten years until the actual airport relocates to Daular. And a large park is supposed to remain in that sector for Guayaquil. And those condos will be located in a high class area.