|Erick Contreras |
Congratulations on your new role as managing director at BASF Vietnam. What goals do you want the company to achieve going forward?
I am absolutely thrilled to be here to drive BASF’s growing business in this important market. Vietnam is one of the fastest growing economies in the region, which presents a lot of opportunities for BASF and makes it feasible for the company to set ambitious targets in the next few years. I am also looking forward to further strengthening our relationships with customers so we can be of service in helping them to achieve their own targets.
We intend to underline our support for export-oriented companies to enable them to meet the stringent product quality and safety standards of their key markets.
We will also work with local manufacturers in various sectors to offer the local market healthier and more nutritious food, reduce automotive emissions and improve air quality with our catalysts, and increase energy efficiency of buildings with our performance materials. With the company’s focus on sustainable growth, BASF plans to present new and innovative products to this growing market.
By the end of my term, I would like to leave a highly capable and motivated team. Top of my agenda is developing our local talents by launching human resource programmes that will help staff to upskill, encourage creative problem-solving, and empower them to make decisions.
The leadership team and I aim to build a highly-productive team that looks forward to going to work every day and contributing to our ongoing success in Vietnam.
2019 is a special year, as BASF celebrates 25 years in Vietnam. What are the company’s major achievements in this time, and what activities do you have planned to mark this significant anniversary?
We first came to Vietnam in 1994 with just a representative office in Ho Chi Minh City. We have since evolved into a company with nearly 200 staff in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, and Danang, and two production plants in Binh Duong and Bac Giang provinces.
We have been enjoying steady sales growth, reaching a new peak of €331 million ($367.5 million) in 2018.
We are proud to say that this sales achievement reflects our collaboration with a number of companies that run across several industries in Vietnam, including agriculture, automotives, construction, footwear, electric and electronics, paint and coatings, and textiles, among others.
Worthy of note is our work with our customers in the textile and footwear businesses, two of Vietnam’s top export industries. Through our innovative products, we have been able to help these customers take advantage of opportunities available in a market that demands groundbreaking comfort, design, and performance in footwear. Our cutting-edge products also help customers combat production issues brought about by unforeseen natural phenomena. With the use of our crop protection brands that cut irrigation costs and increase productivity, coffee and corn growers in the Central Highlands and south-eastern provinces have overcome the drought that has been plaguing their areas.
This year, we plan to celebrate our 25th anniversary in Vietnam with meaningful activities that will have a positive impact on the future of Vietnam’s younger generation. In September, with the co-operation of 10 customers and partners from Vietnam and Thailand, we inaugurated two new classrooms in a remote area of the southern province of Dong Nai.
With an ample space of 170 square metres and proper hygiene facilities, the students in this school now have a superior learning environment.
BASF also funded four public playgrounds that serve as a creative, fun, and safe space for over 12,000 children in Dong Anh district in Hanoi, Go Vap and Nha Be districts in Ho Chi Minh City, and the northerrn province of Yen Bai.
Through the four creatively-designed playgrounds built with child-friendly and recycled materials, BASF hopes to promote a sense of exploration, inspire creativity, and develop different skills among kids.
In early November, in partnership with the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Education and Training, BASF will hold the ninth annual BASF Kids’ Lab for more than 600 primary students. Fun experiments on recycling, reducing waste, and protecting the environment will be conducted.
BASF is becoming better known as a supplier of sustainable products and solutions. Can you tell us more?
BASF offers innovative products and solutions enabling many industries in the country to run their businesses successfully alongside sustainability.
To take a few examples, we provide lightweight plastic materials that significantly reduce the weight of cars, resulting in higher fuel efficiency. BASF also supplies catalysts that decrease harmful vehicle emissions, thereby improving air quality. The company offers comprehensive solutions such as ingredients for odourless paint, polyurethane insulation panels that make buildings more durable and energy efficient, and micronutrients for staple food fortification. Our products and system solutions contribute to conserving resources and helping to improve the quality of life in the country. Responding to Vietnam’s sustainability challenges through innovation will remain in our key agenda in the coming years with the help of our staff, customers, and partners.