By : REYNALDO MISLA
Edition: July 9, 2015 | Volume: 43 | No: 26
Creating alliances with major retailers; expansion of ‘Made in Puerto Rico’ fair
The new president of the Puerto Rico Products Association (PRPA) aims to increase sales of local products and services, leveraging alliances with entities in both public and private sectors.
Recently elected PRPA President Ramón Pérez Blanco told CARIBBEAN BUSINESS in an exclusive interview that his priority is to continue the transformation of the trade association into a more effective force for promoting local products and services, in Puerto Rico and abroad. "Continuity may seem like a small detail, but for a small association amid a transformation, it becomes critical," Pérez Blanco explained. "The strategic focus hasn't changed: Promote, incentivize and optimize the sale of products manufactured in Puerto Rico," he added.
Pérez Blanco singled out Wal- Mart as a close collaborator of the PRPA for the past four years. He pointed out that Wal-Mart has made a real effort to stock its shelves with products manufactured locally, not only in Puerto Rico stores but in the U.S. mainland as well. Pérez Blanco would like to replicate that example with other major retailers. "The idea isn't just for it to be Wal- Mart, but CVS [pharmacies] and others," he said.
As part of its efforts to enhance the visibility of local products and services, the PRPA is studying the possibility of extending its annual "Made in Puerto Rico" fair to the western or southern region of the island. Made in Puerto Rico is an event open to the general public in a setting akin to fiestas patronales. For the past three years, the fair has been held in the Caguas botanical gardens.
The executive started his involvement with PRPA as an ad hoc director under the presidency of longtime entrepreneur Manuel Cidre. Later, Pérez Blanco was elected board director and named president of the convention committee for two-consecutive years, starting in 2013.
Pérez Blanco wants to expand the association's outreach efforts to members throughout the island. Because of his personal experience in the insurance industry, he has encountered many successful entrepreneurs whose success is largely unknown, despite having been in business for years. "There are many local businesses with people who want to push forward and grow. These aren't the ones making noise or attending forums from the PRPA, P.R. Manufacturing Association or P.R. Chamber of Commerce," he said.
One initiative designed to support members is the PRPA's Entrepreneurial Development Academy, an educational program with high-quality educational content for entrepreneurs, in alliance with consulting firm QBS. The program gives entrepreneurs tools to improve their business performance, using local consultants as professors and modeled on executive education programs at prestigious stateside universities. To date, about 60 entrepreneurs have taken the intensive five-day training at a cost of $1,500 each.