Exterior of Pepsico Bakery

December 9, 2020

International Growth Allows Haskell to Better Serve Its Clients

With a focus on relationships, service and culture, Haskell acts as a trustworthy partner to its multinational customers and as a valued member of communities around the globe.

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Successful businesses aren’t built on hope. They require focus, expertise, commitment and a deep understanding of the dynamics of the markets in which they compete.

Equally important is a recognition of how those dynamics can be used to amplify a business’s strengths. That simple, yet strategic philosophy has defined an era of sustained growth across Haskell’s International Delivery Group, which has leveraged its experience, knowledge and relationships to chart a successful course.

Take its Mexico City office, which was launched after a successful project with Pepisco in the late 1990s. Given the competitive nature of the industry, Haskell is continually seeking ways to add inherent value to its clients, ranging from strategic business planning with clients to embracing consulting roles around the design of a master plan of a facility.

“We invest in knowledge, and that is not only in the Latin American market or the broader international market, but everywhere in the company,” said International Group President Luis Jimenez. “Every single time we invest in or focus on a sector in a certain market that we are participating in, we try to find a way to add value to the customer.”

This enables Haskell to not only showcase the company’s expertise, but also build deeper, more meaningful relationships with prospects, clients and partners. And it’s those lasting relationships that have yielded tangible business benefits for everyone involved.

In Latin America, for instance, Haskell’s presence has played a significant role in the modernization of the practices of several regional contractors. Prior to the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994, many of Mexico’s construction contractors adhered to different safety standards and building protocols.

To remedy this, Haskell invested in identifying trusted partners and building sustainable relationships in an effort to bring those companies in line with the standards many multinational clients expected.

“We partnered with several firms, and we helped develop them into reliable sub-contractors,” Jimenez said. “Those are companies we still work with today because we know they can comply with the quality and safety requirements, and they understand the importance of serving our customers.”

Nurturing these relationships with reliable contractors also is a testament to Haskell’s reputation in the region, further enhancing its credentials as a go-to partner for U.S. multinationals seeking to expand operations abroad.

And, according to Jimenez, it’s a distinct differentiator for Haskell.

“We are seeing that there are not many of our competitors focusing on that the way we are, and that’s because it is capital-intensive and time-intensive,” he said. “When you invest in relationships, you go beyond having a transactional relationship, and that is important for us.”

Understanding its customers drove a pattern of organic growth, fueled by a steady stream of U.S. multinational companies relying on Haskell’s industry expertise and physical footprint in Mexico to build various projects of significance in the region.

This surge in client demand led Haskell to set up its first office in Mexico City in 2000. It was a decision driven by the desire to follow the customer rather than merely stake a claim in an unfamiliar country and then try to develop that market.

“If you found us in a foreign country, it was because a client took us there,” said Haskell Executive Vice President and COO John-Paul Saenz. “It would not be because we threw a dart at a map and said ‘let’s establish an office in this country because it looks like a nice place to do business.’”

Multinational companies looking to invest in the region were drawn to Haskell’s design-build method, as well as its mastery of Engineer, Procure, Construct (EPC), which showcases a balance of in-market expertise with a comprehensive, integrated approach to project delivery.

By utilizing EPC, as well as other business advisory services, Haskell’s International Delivery Group is able to position itself as a one-stop shop for clients uneasy about navigating the cost, regulation and resource variables of a foreign market.

“In a foreign country, it makes even more sense for a client that’s not familiar with the location to minimize risk and consolidate into one contractor,” Saenz said.

Growth in Asia followed the same playbook as in Latin America, right down to the detail of Pepsico being client that was the driving force for expansion. The client roster, however, expanded to include not only U.S. multinationals, but also national companies from the region, as well as European companies that Saenz said felt more comfortable working with a Western-style contractor.

Equally important to Haskell’s international success has been an intentional strategy to build overseas offices led by local professionals. In Mexico City, the initial staff comprised a mixture of American and Colombian nationals, which, while appropriate to meet project needs in the short term, leadership decided was not the best way to build a sustainable operation.

As such, the company set out to build an office that would look and compete like a Mexican contractor in the local marketplace, made up of a majority of Mexican nationals. The result was a business model that was not only highly competitive in the market, but also one that facilitates deeper, more lasting connections with clients.

“Recognizing the need to not be an expat organization was important because that is how a lot of our competitors that preceded us in the market failed,” Saenz said. “They tried to continue running their businesses with American expats, and that’s not sustainable in the long term.”

Another ingredient to success is Haskell’s ability to ensure these locally led international offices adhere to the mission and ethos of the parent company. Saenz acknowledged this can be a challenge given geographic and cultural differences, but the company’s success in building a cohesive environment that extends from its corporate offices in Jacksonville, Florida, across the Pacific Ocean to its three Asian offices is a testament to its people and beneficial for its clients.

“We have to keep working to permeate the Haskell culture overseas,” Saenz said, “so it’s consistent for the client no matter where we are.”

Haskell delivers more than $1 billion annually in Architecture, Engineering, Construction (AEC) and Consulting solutions to assure certainty of outcome for complex capital projects worldwide. Haskell is a global, fully integrated, single-source design-build and EPC firm with over 1,800 highly specialized, in-house design, construction and administrative professionals across industrial and commercial markets. With 20+ office locations around the globe, Haskell is a trusted partner for global and emerging clients.

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