Alberto Laveran, Senior Vice President – Latam Region,

Vantage Specialty Chemicals

"We chose Bogotá as Vantage Specialty Chemicals’ Latam HQ because of its strategic location to serve the region with connection to every single market."

What were the reasons behind Vantage Specialty Chemicals moving into a new Latam HQ in Bogotá?

Vantage Specialty Chemicals is part of HIG Capital, a large private equity firm which has been investing heavily in the expansion of its global portfolio. Approximately seven years ago, we acquired Lipo Chemicals, a distribution company mostly focused on personal care and cosmetics, which has eight subsidiaries across Latin America – Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Colombia, Mexico, Guatemala and Costa Rica. After the merger, we decided to leverage the entire commercial organization, including back office staff, warehousing and logistics, with a centralized sales force for our entire product portfolio and to establish our headquarters in Bogotá, Colombia.

We chose Bogotá because of its strategic location to serve the Latam region with connection to every single market. The Bogotá office is doing so well that we are now providing some global operations support for our US offices. We have big plans for growth and for our Latam team to aggressively pursue opportunities in the region.

How do you plan to support your aggressive growth targets?

The Latam region started by selling Vantage Personal Care™ products only. In 2020, we began selling the whole Vantage portfolio—release agents and emulsifiers for bakeries and foodservice, lubricants, coatings and adhesives for industrial applications, automotive and other markets, and more. That alone opens up great opportunities for us. We’re also scaling up our operational capabilities. Having built up a significant network across the continent, we have been able to mitigate logistical constraints and implement strategies to better serve customers and increase our market share year over year.

Vantage sells both internally and externally produced products. That offers us great flexibility and protection in our supply chain.

Where has chemical demand in Latin America come from in the last two years?

We have experienced a lot of growth in the skincare industry, mining applications such as explosives, release agents and detergents. Interestingly, economies are recovering, but this recovery is extremely uneven. Products that are export driven are growing by double digits, but local consumption is not growing at the same pace in some markets. For example, Argentina’s chemical market is growing 5% year on year, but 90% of this growth is coming from exports.

What would you say are the biggest challenges of operating in the region?

The biggest limitation to serve the ever-increasing demand in Latin America, especially over the past year, has been logistics. There is no easy solution to the current logistics deficit. The number of containers that are still waiting in Latin American ports to be shipped is huge. The typical lead time for products in Latin America has increased significantly.

Which factors contributed to Vantage earning its first EcoVadis Gold sustainability rating in December 2020?

Vantage is a leading supplier of naturally derived specialty ingredients for the personal care, food, consumer and industrial markets. Today, Vantage is the second largest producer of jojoba in the world and the only one with farms in both hemispheres. We are focused on exceeding environmental statutes in all countries in which we do business or where our products are sold or consumed, and we work closely with our key suppliers to ensure that they follow the same high standards.

Vantage is proud to earn EcoVadis Gold, putting us in the top 5% of chemical companies in our category. Vantage earned EcoVadis Silver for 2018 and 2019, and we are dedicated to making Corporate Social Responsibility improvements every year. We have aligned our priorities with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, have been a Sedex member company since 2013, and apply the chemical industry’s Responsible Care guiding principles across all Vantage business units.

Which markets do you see as the best avenues for growth in Latin America?

Personal care will continue to be a lead market driver. Demand in the personal care market remains high, and we’re well positioned to grow further with the suppliers and partnerships we have across the region. There are also opportunities to introduce our wider portfolio of food and industrial products for other markets and to develop critical mass to become a more competitive player.

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