Sunday, March 15, 2009

Some Pictures

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March 14, 2008

Our last full day in Guadalajara. We set this day aside to do some site seeing today. On the agenda was Tlaquepaque and the downtown area with the large Cathedral.
Tlaquepaque is a traditional market in Guadalajara where one can buy all sorts of traditional Mexican goods. I really did not find anything that caught the eye, mainly because most traditional Mexican goods are Tequila. It was really nice to people watch however. I sat on a park bench for about an hour watching little kids chase pigeons. I also discovered the little Mexican kids cry and whine too, that was relief to know that kids of all nationalities do that. (I am being sarcastic) For lunch we went to this really nice Hacienda and ate under some trees in a courtyard. Most of my group ordered this traditional Mexican drink that comes in a bowl with fruit in it, and you pour Tequila in it, it is called a Cassuela. It looked pretty amazing without the Tequila in it and I wanted to get the virgin style but I would have had to pay for the Tequila and that added about $50 MXN. Not worth it, so instead I just ate my Enchiladas de Pollo.
The downtown area and cathedral were spectacular. The main Cathedral is huge, and was built in the 1600’s, not long after the first settler arrived in Mexico. The cathedral was decorated with beautiful stained glass and gold trim. The inside was classical Gothic architecture. The outside was a mixture of a few styles however. I do love coming to large downtown areas just to see the amount of people that are there. It was just wall to wall people, and I was among the largest. Being large and white in a foreign cultures is always interesting. People are always staring at me, and whenever there is a street show I always seem to get pulled into the act however. This time it was mimes. It was cool though, we pretended to fight and the crowd laughed.

March 13, 2008

Whether you know the name Flextronics or not, you use their products everyday. (This was our morning company visit today) Flextronics produces about 60% of the cell phones in the North American Market, 75% of the washer and dryers (GE, Whirlpool, Maytag) and many other consumer goods. This facility was incredible. The business park consisted of 19 building of which about 13 were used by Flextronics. It was really cool to see the entire production line of plastics, and PCBA’s (printed circuit boards) We went from the design, fabrication, and shipping phases. In this facility only about 5% of the products go to the Mexican market, because through NAFTA, Flextronics can produce in Mexico and sell in North America, I love globalization. There were thousands of machines producing thousands of products per minute, it was really incredible.
In the afternoon we visited a company called Maseca, and yet again I did not realize that I used their products everyday. Maseca is the company behind the Mission brand. That’s right all those delicious tortillas and chips that we buy, they all come from the Maseca corporation. This facility produced the corn flour that goes into all of their products. When you get to see the operation it is really quite simple, but they were the first movers in the industry to commercialize tortillas and corn flour, and Maseca has had the advantage ever since by means of scale. During the visit we Jonathan and I kept quoting Nacho Libre, especially the scene when he talks about the “Lords Chips”. Little did we know though that our tour guide Oscar’s nickname was Nacho, or Ignacio. Yeah we didn’t let that one go for the next couple of days. I am pretty sure that he regretted the decision to let that one slip.
We really didn’t do much this evening, Jonathan and I went to Chili’s to get some refillable drinks and bottomless chips and salsa. The mall that we found was quite nice though. We were able to go to the Apple Store in the mall. The Apple store made me giddy for a half hour or so. The mall was just like you would find in the states as well. (We were in the nice part of town)

March 12, 2008

Today was a pretty chill day, which was nice because I have been going like crazy and not feeling good. Our first visit was to the American Chamber of Commerce in Guadalajara. While the visit was nothing to write home about, it was the neighborhood that it was in. Most of the houses in this neighborhood were easily more the $1 Million USD. It kind of brought home a point that was made to me by one of the Spanish track students the night before. Guadalajara is a lot like the Florida of Mexico. The weather is always nice, and it is a nice city. As a consequence the most important people in Mexico have family and relatives in Guadalajara, and the most powerful people in Mexico are the Drug Lords. There is an unspoken rule that nothing happens in Guadalajara because everyone has family here, and family is sacred in Mexico. So that was a comforting fact to know. But honestly Guadalajara has been wonderful.
The midday lecture was about the Mexican labor laws, and human resource policies at companies. Mexico’s labor law dates back to 1930, and is very pro worker. There are so many rules against firing and laying off, and profit sharing that it is not wonder foreign firms are locating to China. Granted workers rights are very important, but businesses need to be flexible in order to be profitable and in the end sustain the jobs. There are also so many loopholes that companies spend lots of time and effort looking for them. Further evidence to me that a more market based system is always preferable. Because in a market system in the end companies that do not treat workers well will fail.
In the evening we went back to my new favorite Italian restaurant. This time I took the whole group with us. I don’t think that they had ever had such a large group. But it was a great time because it is a small restaurant and we were the only ones there (Mexicans don’t go to dinner till 9PM, we were there at 7PM).

Thursday, March 12, 2009

March 11, 2009

Well I think that two words really describe today’s events, and those are SWAG and Hairnets. This is mainly because we went to two companies that produce food products, LALA and Grupo Bimbo. I also woke up feeling not that great in the morning, and spent a lot of time in the bathroom during the morning.
LALA is the largest milk and milk product producer in Mexico. The facility that we were able to visit process and ships out of 600,000 liters of milk per day, and with combined with the other liquids and yogurts that are produced there this facility pumps out just a shade under a million liters per day of product. On top of that they make all of the packaging and bottling (cartons and such) at this plant. It was really incredible to see. During this tour I started feeling really sick and so my impression of the facility may be a bit tainted. One thing that is impressive with these companies are the caliber of employees that are showing us around, granted the companies are trying to put on the best face possible but everyone seems very educated. They also seem to try and find the most attractive people in the office to present to us. In preparing for the tour at LALA we had to put on lab coats and hairnets. Apparently in Mexico nobody that wears over a 40 size suit coat has ever visited because that is all they had. While size 40 works for most of the girls here, us guys were really struggling, me especially. It was like Chris Farley doing fat man in a little coat. The think that I love most about places like LALA is seeing how they coordinate all of the supply chains that are involved whether it be the PET’s for the plastic containers, the milk itself or the distribution channels that they use to sell the milk. It is all very impressive.
Bimbo was the next visit for the day. WOW is all that I can say. The facility that we went to is the 2nd largest producer of loaves of bread in the world. It was amazing. They had a warehouse full of ingredients, one of us asked how long the inventory lasted and they said, “Well we use a just in time inventory system so this warehouse will last about 2 days.” And believe me when I say that it was a large warehouse full of wheat, corn, syrup and other dry ingredients. This operation also makes all of the buns for the KFC’s in this region of Mexico. After all the bread is produced it is then sold to all the stores in the Jalisco region. The ingredients come in and within 2 days they are sitting on store shelves, that is very impressive. Again at this place we got tons of SWAG and had to wear hairnets. Walking through the factory smelled so good as well. It reminded me of going to 24 Hour fitness in SLC next to the Wonder Bread factory (In Mexico Bimbo makes Wonder Bread) only a million times better. Then we got to eat some bread that was fresh of out of the oven. Just ask Michelle about my deep disdain for wheat bread, but this wheat bread was very delicious. I think that the only way I will eat wheat bread is if it is still warm from the oven.
The evening time was a little bit more adventurous as far as experiencing Mexico. The Spanish track from my school has been studying at Tech de Monterrey since January and it was Eric Friedman’s birthday from that group. We met them at a restaurant called Casa Bariachi. This restaurant had traditional mariachis. (In English the word Mariachi means pants so tight I can see your bulge) For dinner I had a steak that I ordered to be medium done, but in Mexico that means ultra rare because the middle was not even warm, but it was still very tasty (yes I did eat it and that will come into play here in a second) After dinner was done the MC made a bunch of us gringos go on stage for a dancing competition. I was not drunk enough for this, (I only had 2 Pepsi’s in me) my classmates were as the Mexicans would say quite a bit “happier” than I was. So I go up on stage and they make me dance with a stranger, not even someone that I know from the Spanish track. So I proceed to dance, which really was me looking around and shuffling my feet a bit. After a second I felt a large rumbling in my stomach and all that I could think is that I am going to s!@# myself on stage because I ate a raw steak, Great Job Collin. Luckily the immodium that I took earlier that day kicked in and fought off the impending shart, but it was a close one. After this tremendous experience we ended the night at a Cuban bar smoking “illegal” Cuban Cigars (not me but my classmates). I put illegal in quotations because they were out for sale in the open and they advertised quality Cuban cigars. Well that was my night.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Well I think that everything is starting to catch up with me. Missing a day of sleep, tons of hot food, walking all day in the sun, and not really having much of a break since B-School started. I woke up this morning and as my dad would say I feel like a bucket of buttholes. Feeling very rundown, and not really able to eat much. Not eating is the worst part because we went to a really great place today to get Tortas Ahogades. Tortas Ahogades is a sandwich that is submersed in hot sauce, and the has hot sauce poured on it. I had to settle for a huge coke, and a gotorade, because I am a little dehydrated from all the bathroom time last night and this morning. But do not worry, I have taken pain meds and I am doing fine. In just a moment we are heading to Bimbo. I am really excited for this company visit because Bimbo is the hostess of Mexico, and hey when you are not feeling well snack cakes are the best thing right?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

March 10, 2009

Today we started the morning at the Tech de Monterrey campus in a lecture about the doing business in Mexico. The professor had 20 years experience in the Marketing of P&G products in Mexico. The most important idea that I came away with from this lecture was that to forget the bottom of the pyramid in a place like Mexico will not allow you to sell the most important market in Mexico. That answered a big question that I have had since arriving in Mexico, how do you spread your product. The key is through the small mom and pap stores. Of course this applies mainly to consumer goods, and food. But it was a great lesson to learn.

My interview with Zions Bank was very interesting. I thought that Skype would work, but apparently it is not that reliable here, or Zions Bank just hangs up on unknown numbers. I ended up having to make a cell phone call @ 99¢ per minute for 30 minutes, OUCH!! On the whole though I felt like it went well. Even though it was a behavioral interview that went like, tell me about a time when….., and you can fill in the blank after that.

Tyco in the afternoon was really interesting. I always enjoy seeing business in action, especially manufacturing. Most of the lecture focused on the importing of products and the procedures that accompany importing. All that I can say is what a freaking hassle. There are so many forms to fill out. It did, however, help me to understand how important NAFTA is. One thing that did cross my mind after hearing how many US policies Tyco used was how much we have made Mexican business a slave to American policies.
This evening Jonathan Ritchie and I went looking for some familiar food that wasn’t fried. What we ended up finding was the best Italian restaurant ever. This place was incredible. The noodles were hand made, the bread was made at the restaurant. Both Jonathan and I had fettuccine alfredo with chicken parmesan. It was plated just like you would see on the food network, and our waitress was also incredibly gorgeous. All of this cost Jonathan and I $228 MXN, which roughly translated was $15 for the both of us to eat. This mean in the States would have easily been $50-$60 for the both of us. I am loving the food here in Mexico