Vitro’s leaders reflect on their years since the purchase of PPG’s glass business – and why five will get them ten and beyond.

By Debra Levy

It was a crisp, late autumn day when I met with Vitro CEO Adrián Sada Cueva (ASC) and Ricardo Maiz (RM), president of Vitro Architectural Glass. The pandemic was still raging, so we sat in an outdoor rooftop space to discuss it, the effect on the industry, and how Vitro has fared since it purchased PPG’s Glass Division five years ago. The rapport between the two men was noticeable, the singularity of purpose apparent. Excerpts from our conversation follow. –Deb Levy (DL).

DL—It’s been five years since the acquisition of PPG by Vitro. That’s enough
time to reflect on the efficacy of the deal. Are you pleased with the results
thus far?

ASC—Vitro has been thrilled with the acquisition. The company that resulted from it is much stronger than before PPG became part of it. We’ve seen a lot of innovation, which has strengthened our position in the marketplace.

DL—There have been a lot of acquisitions over the years and, from the outside anyway, this has been one of the smoothest I’ve ever seen. Why is that the case?

RM—We knew that a large part of what we were buying was the Solarban® and PPG legacy brands. We were prepared to salvage and improve on that brand recognition. We also moved quickly, and we budgeted for—and made an investment in—marketing, advertising, and promotion around the new, joined company. Before the acquisition, no one here knew Vitro; its brand recognition was non-existent.

ASC—The acquisition helped us transition Vitro to a preferred brand in the
United States. We are very proud of that.

DL—What attracted you to the transaction in the beginning?

ASC—Vitro has a lot of history manufacturing glass, and so did PPG, but PPG has branched out to other areas; our focus remains glass. We have been very impressed with the talent and the enthusiasm of the people there. Now they are part of our core.

RM—We were attracted to PPG’s research and development capabilities, and that has proven to be a good decision. In the last five years, we have doubled our rate of product launches.

DL—Every person, every company, measures success differently. How do you measure success in your role at Vitro?

ASC—By creating value for our customers, employees, and shareholders; by being customer-centric and earning a high level of customer satisfaction; and by meeting their expectations, 100 percent. We pride ourselves on being loyal to our network of customers. And we will make short-term sacrifices for long-term gains.

DL—Not many public companies can do that nowadays.

ASC—We are highly committed to that.

RM—There is gratitude toward our customers on our part; we appreciate them.

DL—That all sounds idyllic, but let’s turn to some less-than-idyllic things. What things are you worried about the most?

ASC—Scarcity. Several things are driving the scarcity of materials. First, getting goods from overseas is more expensive. The cost of freight has gone up significantly. Imports will struggle to get into the United States for the foreseeable future. It is more difficult to bring a product in from Europe as well. We have seen some shipping costs from China move from $2,000 to $20,000.

DL—That’s an exponential increase, isn’t it?

ASC—Yes, and there is no precise timing on when this will end. There is unpredictability around the timing. We are focusing on the next 12 months, though it’s challenging to get a clear picture of how it will look.

DL—How are you adapting?

ASC—We are localizing the supply chain as much as possible and moving to mitigate the results of the changes to it. The increased demand caught everyone off guard. Managing it, especially at a time when inventory is low, is very challenging. Our customers, though, have been very understanding. Many of them are having the same problems themselves.

DL—Ricardo, what do you worry about the most?

RM—Inflation. It is a big concern, and there is only so much we can do to combat its effects.

DL—What about labor force issues?

ASC—The ability to have a labor safety net is non-existent. We hope that eases soon, but it, too, is challenging right now. We are fortunate that so many employees have been with us a long time and chosen to stay.

DL—Is there anything else you would like to tell our readers?

RM—We know the market situation, and we have prioritized in response to it. No one is perfect, but we have worked hard to minimize the disruption. We are on the hook, right along with our customers. Despite the difficulties we have all have together.

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