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Xtratech – an Ecuadorian pioneer in the field of computer manufacturing with the backing of the Microsoft Corporation – is now targeting the cell phone and television markets.
“In college, a group of friends and I decided to create a programming and tech service company. One of our first clients asked us to sell him computers. It was 1989, and computers weren’t particularly common; the era of the PC had just begun in Ecuador. After selling our first units, we decided to change the company’s focus in that direction.” Jorge Emilio Zambrano Poggi, age 44, is talking about the early days of manufacturing, distributing and selling electronic products, an adventure that decades later led him to become the owner of Cartimex, a conglomerate of tech companies that includes the specialized corporate services of Intellicom, as well as Computron, a supermarket for PCs, laptops and all kinds of accessories.
But of all the companies that make up Cartimex, the crown jewel is probably Xtratech Computers, dedicated to manufacturing computers and distributing them directly through retail chains and authorized dealers in several Ecuadorian cities. The two assembly plants include an 8,600-square-foot location – the country’s largest such facility – which produces 300 computers a day. Their monthly sales currently exceed 2,000 units. Although Xtratech could be called Ecuador’s answer to Hewlett Packard, Zambrano plays down the comparison: “We both deal in the same category of product, but there’s a difference in terms of longevity in the market and product portfolio.” »
This computer engineer, who was born in Portoviejo (Manabí) and is now based in Guayaquil, notes that Xtratech was the first company in Ecuador to have direct contact with the Microsoft Corporation, a relationship that has guaranteed state-of-the-art technology in Xtratech’s assembly plants and access to preferential licensing rates. The cost/quality ratio is precisely what distinguishes Xtratech from other brands: its products meet the highest standards at reasonable prices.
This aspect was undoubtedly instrumental to the company being selected by the Banco del Instituto Ecuatoriano de Seguridad Social (BIESS) for “Computadores para todos” (Computers for Everyone). Through this program, people on social security can purchase Xtratech computers at significant discounts, with a two-year payment plan, explains Jacinto Zambrano Poggi, age 36, Xtratech manager and Jorge Emilio’s brother.
In 2010, the Cartimex conglomerate – now with 330 employees on staff – reported US$80 million in sales and this year hopes to surpass US$100 million. A healthy slice of that pie, of course, comes from Xtratech, which already has operations in Peru and plans to expand to other countries. The next objective? The manufacture of cell phones and LCD and LED televisions. Operational permits will be ready by 2012, marking a new stage in the diversification of the company. According the Jorge Emilio, the company’s secret lies in “working constantly, understanding market demand, investing in new technologies and having a valuable group of contributors in every area.” in
Who is your mentor?
JE: When I was 14, my father (Jorge Zambrano García), gave me an Atari PC. Thanks to him, I was exposed to computers at an early age.
What would you like to have known or studied before starting your business?
J: I’m a frustrated architect – I’ve always enjoyed designing. Now, I work in the marketing division, which also lets me be creative.
What advice would you give to up-and-coming entrepreneurs?
JE: To persevere in their projects.
J: To not give up on any dream. Anything is possible: it’s all a matter of perseverance and a good attitude.
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