When Lorenzo Servitje Sendra founded Bimbo in 1945, it's hardly likely that he imagined that years later it would become the biggest bread maker in the world. However, Bimbo was born with growth in its DNA and today it is an international company operating in 32 countries, with 137,000 employees, 196 plants, more than 100 brands, and annual sales of close to $14 billion.
How did they do it? "The key to success is to be found in the balance between long-term vision and agility in adjusting to changes," Grupo Bimbo's general deputy director, Gabino Gomez Carbajal, told Latin Trade in an interview. "You must have clear objectives, but you also have to be always on the move, day by day, and have the flexibility to deal with change."
To this formula, Bimbo has added organization, talent, discipline, persistence, and an enviable stability in leadership: just three general managers in the past 60 years.
Through five-year strategies that shape concrete business plans for each country and each product line, Bimbo aligns and motivates its thousands of employees.
That's how the company has been able to meet the vast majority of its goals--increasing the number of customers, the countries of operation, and the quality of the company--while moving ahead with the bold internationalization plan that was put forward more than a decade ago. "Today most of the company's revenues come from outside of Mexico," said Gomez Carbajal. "When we bought (the American bakery) East Bait Bakeries, we went to sleep in 24 countries and woke up in 32."
Talent has been fundamental for executing those plans. "Companies aren't systems, factories, or brands. Companies are people. Our aim is to have a highly productive and totally human company," said Gomez Carbajal.
The biggest obstacles the company has faced...