HAS INTERNATIONAL ASPIRATIONS
With its four main divisions Grupo Poma has interests in automotive distribution, manufacturing, construction and hotel management
The 1990s was a decade of regional expansion for Grupo Poma, constructing some of the best hotels, and shopping centers in each key Central American city
When Bartolomé Poma arrived in El Salvador in the early part of the 20th century, he laid the foundations of one of the countrys most successful family businesses.
More than 80 years later his great grandson, 31-year-old Fernando Poma is the energetic General Manager of Grupo Real, one of Central Americas leading hotel companies. He looks back at his Spanish and Italian ancestors with pride. My great grandfather was one of many adventurers seeking his fortune in America, he says. He was a pioneer in more ways than one. In 1919 he started up one of the first car distributors in El Salvador with big brands at the time like Hudson and Essex.
In the early days, there were very few cars in El Salvador and even the main transit arteries were not yet paved, says Mr. Poma. The company became the distributor for GM in the 1930s and acquired the Toyota license for the country in 1950s. It was the second distributor for the firm in the world after Taiwan. During the next decade the Poma family business became distributors for Chevrolet, Kia, BMW, Mitsubishi, and Ford, while expanding into other Central American countries.
Now the company has diversified far beyond its origins. Grupo Poma is divided into four main divisions. Grupo DIDEA is still one of the main automotive distribution companies in the region.
Grupo Solaire, the industrial division, manufactures windows and aluminum products at four factories in El Salvador. Grupo Roble is a construction subsidiary that builds and manages shopping centers, housing, and office space. Finally Grupo Real, of which Fernando Poma is General Manager, runs the groups hotel interests.
General Manager of Grupo Real
This diversification began in earnest during the 1970s, when the company first ventured into real estate. We purchased a large piece of land in what, during that time, was up-town San Salvador, and constructed what are now known as the the Metrocentro Shopping Mall, the largest shopping center in Central America, the InterContinental Hotel, and the Torre Roble office building, explains Mr. Poma.
It was a successful model that the company has been able to repeat in many of the main cities of the region. In most cases up until now we have been lucky with real estate prices being on the rise. In certain instances, by selling the land adjacent to the project we have been able to recoup our initial equity investment, says Mr. Poma.
Not everything has been easy. The period of civil war in El Salvador was traumatic for the family. We were forced to relocate to the United States, Mr. Poma recalls. However, even during this difficult time the business continued to diversify.
The 1990s was the decade of regional expansion in Central America. Grupo Poma constructed 14 shopping centers in the region, eight five-star hotels and many other mid-range hotels. We started this regional expansion with the philosophy that we wanted to have the best hotels and the best shopping centers in each key Central American city. When we had accomplished this strategy, we decided to venture into mid-scale products in secondary locations, says Mr. Poma.
The company also moved into housing construction. It constructed more than 50,000 low-income homes and provided financing vehicles for the purchase of these homes. Its automobile division secured a more than 50% market share in El Salvador and leading positions in many neighboring countries.
We are now headed for the Caribbean, starting with the Dominican Republic, says Mr. Poma. This month we inaugurate the first airport hotel of Santo Domingo. The second project will be a JW Marriott hotel in the financial center of town that will open in 2005.
We already compete globally in all our operating divisions. This is particularly true in the hotel division where we compete face to face with Marriott, Radisson, Melia, Westin, and many others.
Even as it turns into a global company, Grupo Poma continues to nurture its roots in the community where it was founded. It funds several charities and has itself founded two philanthropic organizations. One, the Fundacion Para La Salud y el Desarollo Humano (FUSAL), works in more than 60 rural communities providing medical assistance. The other is the Escuela Superior de Economia y Negocios, a university set up in San Salvador to train future business leaders.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT SUMMIT COMMUNICATIONS AT: 1040 FIRST AVENUE, SUITE 395, NEW YORK, NY 10022-2902. TEL: (212) 286-0034 FAX: (212) 286-8376 E-MAIL: email@example.com