In a recent Houston interview, Gilberto Perez, the president of US operations for Cemex, gave a few insights into Cemex plans for its US operations
Q: What’s the status of Cemex’s appeals to lift the dumping complaint against Mexican cement?
A: I would not dare say the dumping issue would be resolved in the near future, but I would say that we are closer than we ever have been before. What we’re saying is that there has been a change in circumstances. We have invested more than anybody else in this marketplace. I think it’s a little bit ridiculous for anybody to think that Cemex would do anything to harm this market.
Q: Why is it important to lift the antidumping measure?
A: Right now there is a shortage. There are 30 or 40 states affected by this, including Texas. In Houston, most cement is imported from Korea. We could bring it in from Tampico. It would give us more flexibility to serve our customers’ needs.
Q: How responsive has the Mexican immigrant market in Houston been to Cemex’s Construmex division?
A: Frankly, I think we are going to have to provide more promotion for the immigrant community. It’s a great service. It’s a great idea. Nevertheless, we compete with other needs and demands the immigrant has. People don’t always have the need to send money for construction.
Q: What are some of your greatest challenges in the US market?
A: Being able to attract and retain the best talent. We compete with the IBMs of the world, with the oil industry, with industries that have worked a long time on their image. They have a much more sophisticated image than the cement industry. Also politics — having our voice heard in Washington as a subsidiary of a Mexican company.
Q: What will the acquisition of RMC mean for the US cement industry and for the Houston market?
A: If the largest cement producer is going to be vertically integrated with the largest ready-mix provider, we’re going to become a net buyer of cement — so some of my competitors are going to be some of my suppliers. We’re going to become the largest cement and ready-mix producer in Houston. (Abstracted report from the Houston Chronicle).