Gustavo Delgado has been on ALAFAVE’s Board of Directors for almost 10 years. He has contributed to decisions, projects, and transformation processes for the association; always providing initiatives to create a stronger association that withstands time and changes and caters to the needs of our members.
During the las General Assembly celebrated virtually on August of last year, Gustavo was officially presented as President, relieving Alfredo Ocampo who held office for 4 years.
Gustavo lives in the beautiful city of Cuenca, Ecuador, where he handles his family business started by his grandfather in 1950 He provided his ideas and shared his plans for ALAFAVE under his new role.
You’ve just become the president of ALAFAVE amidst a pandemic. How do you see the candle industry in Latin America right now?
Despite the crisis, the consumption of candles has not decreased, this is one of the industries that has survived through the pandemic. Even though the candle manufacturers are adapting well to this new normalcy, we are aware that the reactivation of the economy is subject to many external variables and there is an everyday challenge. In this context, the increase on freight, and taxes is affecting us directly on the price of the paraffin at 20-25% along with other raw materials used to produce the candles. It is said that the lack of paraffin containers may last several months.
What have you learned from the industry during this crisis generated by COVID-19?
The crisis taught me: that you should not leave anything due for tomorrow; we should learn how to adapt on unexpected circumstances; if we keep a healthy economy a productive and strong structure, good management and inventories we can make a difference.
Internal and external communication are aspects that have been mostly damaged. Establishing strategies is one of the challenges that we need to overcome, hence we need to take advantage of all the social media there is.
What are some of the challenges for the association at the short and medium term?
We are uncertain on how long the pandemic will last, for the association the main challenge is to adapt its operations to the new “normal.” Another aspect that has been affected due to the social distance are our congresses/expos. To strengthen the relationships between manufacturers and suppliers and the rest of the associations we are looking for effective solutions supported by technology. We’ll continue to create webinars with interesting topics for the industry to support our members on their growth. We are also planning our congress 2021 virtually. Despite the pandemic, we’ll continue to support the candle industry and strengthening our friendship with everyone who is part of this great industry.
On recent years, Latin America has been in a political roller coaster. How does ALAFAVE Support its members to overcome these circumstances?
Unfortunately, the political instability is exposing our weakness as companies, specially economically. In this context business owners have the starring role and the responsibility to take on the challenge, lead on decisions that allow us to adapt to different realities in a precise way to contain the effects of time. The association supports its members via webinars, and trainings so their companies can innovate on their process, to become more productive in a way that they can grow and reach their goals and maintain them over time.
ALAFAVE has set the bar high on the use of technology. Do you think our members are following the advice on the implementation of digital strategies?
Technology has a great potential to transform any company to be more effective and versatile. Its correct use will allow us to implement innovating systems, tools that will allow us to take timely decisions on moments of crisis. A lot of companies already have the use of technology in their structures, without a doubt the benefits are intangible, each business owner should evaluate their needs and expectations to implement their most suitable strategy.
Is Latin America vulnerable to the Asian candle imports?
The extreme growth of China during the last years has generated preoccupation. China has become one of the main commercial partners for Latin America. Given that they are a manufacturing country that has their government support, makes their product prices very competitive. Latin America has seen how its domestic market has been affected for the importation of Asian candles. To protect their industries, many countries have created high tariffs on Asian products. The importation of Asian candles will always be present and will always be a threat for our industry. We need to work together to create an agenda and handle it regionally with topics that allows us to co-exist in the market.
Any final comments?
Despite the pandemic, we’ll continue to support the candle industry strengthening our friendship with candle manufacturers, suppliers, the candle associations and everyone who is part of this great family.