•View 2002 HISPANIC BUSINESS 500 List•View 2002 HISPANIC BUSINESS 500 Charts•View Interactive map of U.S. HISPANIC BUSINESS 500•Buy the HISPANIC BUSINESS 500 Contact DirectoryOn a Saturday in April, Marcelo Claure gathers his Brightstar Corp. management team to begin an important new project: benchmarking for best practices.
“When you have a company that has experienced exponential growth, ‘best practices’ is the last thing you think of,” says the CEO of the Miami-based wireless telephone distributor, which has nearly doubled its revenues each year since its founding in 1997 and currently is number 6 on the Hispanic Business 500®. “You get used to working on a case-by-case basis. But Brightstar has changed from a small group of friends to a major corporation, and we need to operate in a uniform way.”
Mr. Claure says his team members expect to draw on the best management methods at their own company and others. Then they’ll adapt the practices to Brightstar’s situation.
For managers who want to learn from great companies, the Hispanic Business 500 is a treasure chest. The largest Hispanic firms have achieved success, despite the historical and social barriers facing minority entrepreneurs. Hispanic Business spoke with executives at some of the largest companies on the 500 directory about how they hone their managerial skills in response to change and growth, particularly in light of the events of the recent past.
Technology: Setbacks Inspire Adjustments. Technology has emerged as a perpetual concern for management teams, but never more so than last year. The technology industry suffered a series of major setbacks, slowing down the entire U.S. economy. At Miami-based MasTec Inc., which fell to number 2 on this year’s directory after holding the number 1 spot last year, revenues dropped 6.1 percent, and the company had to set aside $13.1 million to cover nonpayment from customers.
After taking over as CEO of MasTec in August, Austin Shanfelter began revising the company’s strategic plan in response to those events.
“We’re focusing now on market-share growth with our current client base,” says Mr. Shanfelter. “We’re back to focusing on key clients, the blue-chip customers who have end users.”
To do that, Mr. Shanfelter says, MasTec emphasizes “the full breadth of its services,” especially maintenance. Instead of simply laying cable or installing networks, the company will service the infrastructure as well.
“We didn’t do a good job of marketing in the past, because we didn’t really have to,” Mr. Shanfelter concedes. “In our business sector, MasTec branded early on. The markets were moving so quickly, we didn’t have to tell our story well.”
The company has completed arrangements for a $125 million revolving credit line – a $25 million increase over previous funding levels – to refinance existing debt and provide working capital.
Finance: Capital Preservation Key. International Bancshares Corp., the largest financial company on the Hispanic Business 500 at number 14, has responded to market changes of a different kind. Since the implementation of NAFTA, the bank has provided funding for U.S.-owned factories in northern Mexico; loans to those and other businesses make up about 60 percent of the company’s portfolio.
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