The Economy along the Border: Profile on Victor Almeida

Victor Almedia, CEO of Interceramic, USA, and Mission Foods Texas-Mexico Board Member, sat down with us to talk about the benefits and challenges of running a global business in a border state.

Why did you decide to join the leadership of the Mission Foods Texas-Mexico Center?

First, it was an honor to be asked to join such a great initiative! I believe it is extremely important in these times to support all type of initiatives that contribute to greater understanding and dialogue in order to improve relations between Texas and Mexico. My father pressed the importance of being a citizen of both Mexican and US cultures. Not only are we neighbors, we interact daily, supplying each other with things we cannot economically produce in our own countries. Whether its food products or electronics, Texas cannot thrive without imports from Mexico, nor so could Mexico without Texas.

Why did you choose Texas as the headquarters for your US operations? Does having a US business in a border state benefit your business? Why or why not?

Chihuahua is one of the states that borders Texas. After graduating from The University of Texas at Austin and returning home to help my father run Interceramic, I knew if we were to grow, we would have to enter the US market. Because Chihuahua borders Texas, El Paso was the logical place to open our first US location in 1979, and we quickly saw our business grow. Texas was a very pro-business state then and continues to be. Being in the center of the US makes Texas a great location for logistics and helps ease operations being near our world headquarters in Chihuahua. As we continued to expand in the US, we decided on Dallas as the US headquarters, and benefit from its diverse business community and the ease that comes when traveling worldwide.

What are some of the benefits and challenges you’ve encountered when integrating your business on both sides of the border?

Every business that opens in the US coming from Mexico faces challenges when understanding the legal issues as well as hiring processes in a highly competitive market. Our product also competes with the world. The US imports tile from Italy, Spain and China, and daily we work to convince US wholesalers that our premium tile combined with our innovative techniques create a product that will surpass our competitors and last a lifetime. However, it’s easy to face these challenges because the opportunities in the US are immense!

How does growing up in Mexico and attending a college in the US influence your business decisions and outlook for your company?

I believe it is very important for Mexican students to attend a U.S. University Like in my case, attending UT Austin helped me understand the business and social issues in the U.S. Economy and opened the door to networking with an educated and connected alumni group. No doubt that the better understanding and being familiar with the US is crucial in making decisions to invest and do business in the US.

Is there anything you would like to add that may help our audience understand more about what it is like for business owners on both sides of the border?

It is always very difficult to do business with another country. For the company to perform well, it must understand the other country’s culture and business practices as well as the social customs and behaviors of its employees, even if they seem similar.

We also focus heavily on having good leadership and hiring strong teams. That is the foundation of our company, our people. We would not have been successful these past 40 years without good partners and experienced executives!

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