Deciding to expand a business overseas is all well and good. But it’s not as simple as throwing up a new widget factory in Guadalajara and getting to work. There are facilities to care for, security to maintain, and what about all those environmental issues that are bound to pop up in a land of different laws and regulations? Outsourcing could quickly get bogged down in these mundane management details, and the business of actually making widgets hurt in the meantime.
That’s why, as the world’s manufacturers have globalized, the service industry hasn’t been far behind. Security, sanitary work, maintenance, environmental assessments, and office help are all services whose availability is key for the success of nearly any manufacturing operation. And not only does the service have to be available, it has to be good.
Grupo Eulen, a Spanish company, has been at the cutting edge of globalized service providers in Latin America since it started its expansion there in 1997. Drawing on its wealth and variety of experiences, Eulen has been able to build a reputation for itself as the go-to company for the buffet of service options it offers to all ambits of industrial and commercial businesses.
Founded in 1962 by its current president, David Álvarez, Grupo Eulen was – and still is – a family-run company with completely Spanish capital. The original name of the company was El Sol Cleaning Center, essentially a small business. But since just about everything gets dirty and at some point or another needs a good scrub-down, it wasn’t too long after the original founding of El Sol Cleaning Center that the company began expanding into other areas of the cleaning industry.
That diversification eventually led to the construction of a rather enormous service industry empire. Today, Eulen is involved in dozens of different sectors of the service industry, offering those services to hundreds of other industries throughout Spain, Portugal, and Latin America. In 2006, the company grossed over $1 billion in sales and had 65,775 employees.
The expansion of the company’s businesses, of course, has also included a geographic expansion. It was in 1997 when the company began looking for opportunities abroad, and those opportunities were mostly found in Latin American countries where the political environment had settled down and businesses of all kinds – including outsource multi-nationals – needed reliable service providers.
Currently, the company has service centers in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Panama, Peru, the Dominican Republic, and Uruguay. Some of those countries, like Costa Rica, have one service center, while others, like Colombia and Mexico have half a dozen or so.
Range of services
What do those service centers provide? Everything found in the company. Grupo Eulen has a total of seven divisions that serve various markets in the service industry. They are: cleaning, security, social services, auxiliary services, temporary workers, Eulen Maintenance, and Eulen Environment.
Some sectors are bigger then others, but all of them are important for providing the kind of comprehensive solutions that Eulen offers to meet the needs of its clients. Cleaning is, of course, the original and therefore largest division of Eulen’s services. It, by itself, is divided into seven sectors.
Eulen provides cleaning and treatment of large surfaces, like heavily-traveled floors. It also offers cleaning services to the transportation industry, which include mechanized and automatic cleanings of interiors and exteriors of mobile units, pressurized chassis cleaning and hydrodynamic cleaning.
Building cleaning services are divided into two branches: integrated bathroom cleaning, including micro-fiber wipe-downs, vacuum with HEPA filtering, and control of micro-organisms; and office cleaning, which includes high-rise window washing, carpet-cleaning, and air-conditioner cleaning and air quality analysis, among other things.
Eulen also offers a full line of industrial cleaning services, divided into three main concentrations. There are the services offered to industrial food producers, for one. Then comes the really messy stuff: industrial cleaning, for example, with services like chemical cleaning, vacuum systems designed for dust and solids, inspection of cleaning networks, and hydro-chemical cleaning.
Finally, there’s the company’s nuclear division, which offers cleaning in restricted areas, decontamination of areas where an accident has taken place with radioactive material, and declassification. Put together, all the divisions of Eulen’s cleaning services make up 32.3 percent of the company’s total business – that is, in 2006, 325.4 million euros, meaning that cleaning remains Eulen’s most profitable division.
Interest in security
Not to say that the other divisions are less important. The keystone of Eulen’s strategy is diversification, and the remaining 77.7 percent of Eulen’s sales is divided up between an impressive variety of service areas. Its second-biggest division after cleaning is security. It’s also the second oldest. The security division was founded in 1974 under the name Prosesa. Last year it achieved 251.4 million euros in sales, making it the third biggest security company in Spain, with a market share of 7 percent.
Like the cleaning division, Eulen’s security division has a variety of divisions of its own. Body guard services are carried out with the support of the company’s modern control centers. The company also does security consulting and assessments, as well as something it calls “security engineering,” which is the design, sale, and installation of alarm systems and integrated security projects. Along with the sale and installation of alarm systems, the company maintains them, and also manages private response centers that can react whenever an alarm is tripped.
Phone call away
The younger divisions of Grupo Eulen also play important roles. Eulen’s social-sanitary services division, for example, is only 14 years old, yet its sales account for 106.7 million euros. In 2006, the company helped over 100,000 people with its various services in this division, most often through winning contracts from public healthcare systems.
Telephone assistance is one important aspect of the division, especially in Spain. House care is another individualized, integrated service that the company offers to people who need help living at home. Likewise, the company manages day centers, where senior citizens can spend their days socializing rather than cooped up at home. Other aspects of this division of Eulen include retirement home management; the management of residences for physically and mentally handicapped people, education services for troubled children, women’s health services, and sanitary and dietary services.
Grupo Eulen also offers many services targeted toward management and maintenance of a vast variety of facilities for any equally vast variety of business models and purposes. Eulen can manage aspects of everything from airports to sports stadiums to educational institutions. It can manage buildings, back office operations, logistics services, or, through its specially-designed services, any other need a company might have.
In its maintenance division Eulen is equally diverse, offering everything from basic electrical, plant, and facilities maintenance to heavy-duty remodeling and the maintenance of sophisticated electronic medical equipment. Industrial and telecommunications management also have a niche in Eulen’s repertoire.
From temp to environment
Eulen has two other niches that are rather new. One is its temporary work division, known as Flexiplan. It was the first temp company with 100 percent Spanish capital, and today it earns more than 92 million euros per year, mostly in Spain.
Meanwhile, another newer division of the company is the environment division. Started in 1981, this division is equipped to offer solutions for the necessities of conservation and restoration of forests, as well as the planning of projects in both urban and rural environments. In the urban scene, Eulen specializes in preserving and designing green spaces and designing sprinkler and drainage systems. In the rural development side of things, Eulen assesses the impact a new project would have and offers a range of services to deal with various environmental problems, like erosion, deforestation, forest fires, and hydrological issues.
This huge variety of services has been one of Grupo Eulen’s gr
eatest assets over the years, along with its many years of experience in the service industry. The theory is simple: Companies, whether at home base or abroad, outsourcing to a foreign nation, don’t want to hassle with getting all their service needs met by different companies. One-stop shopping is a much preferable option, especially if the product is a quality one like that offered by Eulen.
The numbers do the talking on the success of this philosophy. In 2000, Eulen was grossing 646.6 million euros annually. In 2006, it broke the 1 billion euro mark. An important part of that growth has come from the company’s expansion into foreign markets that it began in 1997. Now with service centers in nine countries in Latin America, in addition to Portugal, Eulen does more than 11 percent of its business abroad.
Mexico is one example of the success Eulen is having in Latin America. The heart of Eulen’s Latin American operation, Mexico has Eulen service centers in Guadalajara, Monterrey, Puebla, Puerto Vallarta, Querétaro, and Tijuana. Large clients include the airport sector (which in Mexico is privately administered, with the exception of the Mexico City airport), railroads like Ferrocarrl Mexicano, financial sector companies like Seguros MET-LIFE and BBVA Bancomer, and the telecoms sector, with clients like Telefónica Móviles Mexico.
Though Eulen’s quality speaks for itself, it’s backed up by a raft of quality certifications and industry awards, including ISO-9002, ISO-14001, and ISO-9000:2000. Awards include everything from the Excellence Prize, awarded by the magazine DINERO, to various prizes awarding the company’s mitigation of labor risk and its corporate ethic. Just this year, the group was awarded the Employment prize by the Company and Society Foundation.
Eulen plans to continue its expansion in the coming years. With its continued emphasis on customer service and quality control, Eulen has positioned itself well to continue riding the wave of globalization, right alongside the manufacturers who need Eulen’s services most.