At Abertis, for example, “there are suppliers who gradually started with us, then were able to grow alongside us and come to other countries,” says Josep María Gómez Hospital, Director of Purchasing and General Services. .

All the big ones have small suppliers for their main activity and in ancillary areas such as catering, security, furniture or transport. “70% of our suppliers are SMEs. They are partners for specific tasks and when we meet well, they grow with us,” continues Gómez.

You have to keep in mind that it is easier to travel abroad after making contact here than to do it in the country where the project is being developed. “The company is in Spain, that’s where the initiatives come from,” he adds.

SMEs without borders
These large suppliers are usually “SMEs responding to a new need, such as consultancies on very specific topics or companies specializing in a construction or technological element resulting from an R&D study, be it for our telecommunications sector or for highways that we have tried to export, ”assures the Abertis purchasing manager.

Also that these are products and services adapted to different countries, because “often the regulations are different, even within Europe, and something that is very easy to implement in one fails in another. You have to have a great ability to reinvent yourself and adapt, that’s what defines a supplier’s ability to grow,” explains the Abertis manager.

This is the advantage that has allowed Cype Engineering to go to Peru and Ecuador with Repsol and to South Africa and India with Abengoa. This Alicante SME has developed software to calculate, design and guarantee safety and compliance with current regulations in the countries it enters with the large ones to which it adapts its product, and the entire construction project to Prepare to unite a budget. “That means you plan and install systems and you know what they cost. This is our added value,” explains Carlos Fernández, Cype’s Technical Director.

[pullquote align=’center’]Specialization is the best asset to be an international supplier[/pullquote]

More first and last name examples of working with our country’s major infrastructure, energy and telecom companies are provided by Acciona. In Mexico, for example, it works with Geotecnia, a geotechnical study company, or with Typography and Architecture, an engineering project and topography services. And in South Africa with STI, Structural Project Engineering. All were selected “because of their technical quality”.
In Australia with Mecasolar, “manufacturer of structures that accompanies you in a market of expensive industrial resources, offering entrepreneurial quality and competitive prices”.

In Costa Rica with Asturwatt, an electromechanical assembly company, helping them with their first wind project in the country; and Tensa, a power line assembly company; the two were chosen “because of their ability to engage in dialogue in the country”.

In Poland and Croatia, with Vicarli, logistic services. And in Mali, Chile and Gabon they collaborate with Maquinaria de Canteras Triman, a “supplier from whom we buy machine equipment to install in our infrastructure works, both in Spain and internationally, as well as spare parts, commissioning or repairs – Page ˅ Especially the cooperation in Gabon stands out, where it is an important subcontractor for the transport of materials and specialists for the assembly of the equipment exported there: machines for preparation and treatment of aggregates, crushing plants, mills or aggregate plants,” they explain .

As you can see, “there are many choices when it comes to building materials. Not only in residential construction, but also in civil engineering,” comments Gómez.

contact with the great

Typically, large companies select suppliers directly based on their needs from their supplier list (which in many cases you can enter by filling out a form on their website). But if you like innovative concepts, the supplier department is simply not the best person to talk to. Try to reach out to those responsible for innovation or technology. As?

Professional meetings. “We became suppliers to Repsol and Abengoa because our software was already appearing in the technical services of the project departments of large companies. We’ve always done a great job of promoting through professional associations, with on-site and state-wide presentations. We have a lot to do with engineers and architects. Those who work in the departments of the big ones usually recommend their bosses to hire the software that works well,” assures Fernández.

“When you start having users within the company, it’s a lot easier to go in later to talk to managers and sign agreements. In our case, through the technical departments, who are the actual users,” continues Cype’s technical director, who incidentally gives us a little-known clue as to how one is viewed by a multinational: “Within our software, we make the We propose the widest possible range of suppliers to create budget proposals for our customers who are infrastructure, electrical and plumbing companies … and who need suppliers of all kinds: plumbing, window, glass, flooring manufacturers … In each country we involve both local and local suppliers.”

[pullquote align=’center’]Technology travels well when you get your own engineers to test it[/pullquote]

clusters. “They are amalgamations of companies operating in the same niche or field of activity that compete with each other. But projects often exceed the capabilities of a single company. In other words, it’s very difficult for an aerospace company, for example, to do everything to make an airplane: the design, the manufacture of components, the structure, the integration… Not even a telecommunications satellite. There may be one integrator, one main partner, but everything is within one supply chain,” explains Eugenio Fontán, Managing Director of the Madrid Network Aerospace Cluster and Dean of the College of Telecommunications Engineers.

“The more value innovation has in a sector, the more effective are the clusters, such as E.g. renewable energy, health, biotechnology, aeronautics… In sectors where efficiencies are achieved based on prices, the cluster does not add value,” affirms Fontan.

“In a cluster like ours, innovation is paramount. The second important factor is that most of the projects companies work on are international. It is common for companies to work with others that are in other international clusters of the same industry. For example, the aeronautics sector exports 85% of its projects,” adds the manager of the Madrid Network Aerospace Cluster.

European projects. Another gateway to large multinationals is to participate in a research project on specific innovation areas where SMEs and multinationals work side by side. This is how the managers of Naudit, a company with 11 employees, gained Telefónica as a customer to monitor their networks and create reports with possible improvements. They are also collaborating with her on a research project, Idealist, to improve the capacity and flexibility of operators’ optical networks.

[pullquote align=’center’]Look for clients in research centers and professional organizations[/pullquote]

“These are very interesting projects for us because you can be there when the new tool generation is developed. They are reached in two ways: firstly through the EU framework program of which Idealist is a part, and secondly through the Celtic projects in which we are also involved in another project, Noos, where we carry out monitoring, which focuses on the analysis of service traffic in Internet television. another brutal field,” explains Sergio López-Buedo, one of his partners.

Another European project is Perseus, in which 30 partners from 12 European countries take part, including Indra, which usually seeks its partners “through our network of international contacts at industrial or institutional level, but also in specific forums organized by the European Commission and other specialized national organizations such as the CDTI ”, explains Fernando Barbero, coordinator of this project at Indra.

“Several SMEs are participating in Perseus as partners. They are usually in a very specialized niche market, technological or otherwise. In fact, the EC positively values ​​the participation of SME companies in the consortia of this type of projects,” summarizes the Indra coordinator.

company management