More than 30 years ago, Panamanian businessman Mayor Alfredo Alemán founded Grupo Los Pueblos (GLP). Although it started as a company promoting real estate developments for the middle class, it diversified and found new niches in commercial, hotel and tourist development, in addition to the luxury real state segment.
Hoy, Today, GLP is recognized as “Panama’s great developer” but Alemán went after more: undertakings in the energy sector and the launch of the newspaper “Metro Libre”.
When Strategy and Business started in 1999, Grupo Los Pueblos (GLP) had already shown what it was capable of. Mayor Alfredo Alemán, the President of the company, considers that the extraordinary group of people who have been with him since then, and who he considers its main asset, has been fundamental to the exceptional creative power and development of GLP. Proof of this: Ocean Reef Islands are the first islands built in Latin America on the Pacific Ocean, the foundation of an exclusive and modern real estate development, unique in the region and an icon for the country. It was the strength and credibility of that team that enabled the business group to face great challenges and crises. The businessman remembers, for example, when in 1988, during the dictatorship, banks in Panama were closed and they were able to survive thanks to the company’s strong credit within the market.
Alemán conceived his first shopping mall, Los Pueblos, in Tocumen, expanding it to Los Pueblos Juan Díaz in the early 90s: It is an open-air shopping mall built over 32 hectares, ten minutes from Panama’s International Airport. And this was only the beginning: at the end of the same decade, the company launched the Great Transport Terminal that transports 50 million passengers each year, and next to which it built Albrook Mall. Over time and based on forward-thinking investments, GLP has become a leading holding company for design, development, construction, inspection and sales within the real estate sector. Together, it has developed more than 50 projects (aimed at middle- and upper- class segments, buildings and shopping malls).
“Thirty-five years ago, the group was very young, full of spirit, energy and with a great future ahead of it. Now we have fully matured and this is reflected in our extraordinary results” says Alemán. The businessman acknowledges that the company “has been daring and has taken risks, aiming high”. An example of this was developing projects such as Albrook Mall in an area close to the Panama Canal Administration Building, which at first did not seem a good location for this type of venture. “Every important project in countries like Panama is controversial at the beginning, and in the end, it is a product of the group’s tenacity,” he reflects.
Without a doubt, the location of the projects developed by GLP is one of the holding group’s main pillars. In fact, in February of this year, the Panamanian Chamber of Construction (Capac) awarded special recognition to the company “for its contribution to the industry through innovation”. GLP’s projects have improved the quality of life of Panamanians and their economic impact has provided thousands of jobs,” stated Capac.
MODERNITY AND VALUES
“We live in a totally different world from that of the 1990s, starting with a greater access to information, communications facilities, and artificial intelligence,” says Alemán, acknowledging the impact of this dynamic on the group. “Today, companies must constantly evolve, they must be much more transparent and maintain a high level of communication,” says the executive. The innovation and exploration of new business niches has led GLP to diversify its interests by creating the newspaper Metro Libre and embarking on a gas-fired power plant, with an expected investment in the order of US$900 million.
But, for the head of GLP, despite the changes and broadening of business horizons, “the company’s fundamental values remain the same as those of a family over time.” Among the values that have been important during the last 20 years, the businessman highlights “the importance of offering world-class products, competitive prices, real value to the client, honesty, sensitivity, total transparency in what we do, generating value and return to our shareholders, and above all, making our country greater”.
According to Alemán, since its founding, the group’s companies have been closely linked with the Panamanian community. “Today, those ties, that social work that has always characterized Grupo Los Pueblos can be described in more modern terms, but they are still the same values with which we have always been identified: listening to our community and contributing decisively to the development of the country, solving our social problems through job creation and contributing to education,” he points out.
For the head of GLP, these years of business maturity have also meant a time of personal transformation. “Today I am much more aware, as CEO, of the importance of family and teamwork, of professional and human development, of proper employee pay and the importance of creating space for personal development, to found companies of a high quality and with sustainable growth,” says Alemán. And he adds: “It is these leadership traits, in tune with the reality of the times, that I have learned, hand in hand with my team, and which I have passed down to my sons Alfredo and Alejandro, who are leading the way in building tomorrow’s Grupo Los Pueblos”.