For 45 years, ASTEK has advanced with steady steps toward the solid growth of our company. Among various milestones we have reached during this journey, we are pleased to have obtained an international award that represents the effort of our collaborators to comply with our quality policies.
This achievement challenges us to continue to outdo ourselves, consolidating our company still further and setting our course for new enterprises.
That is the dream of all business leaders: to create a company that grows, that is recognized within its industry, and that continues to seek new markets abroad.
Jorge Quirós Sáenz, Mario Hoffmaister and other partners came together 45 years ago to found ASTEK, dedicated to the design and manufacture of flavorings for the food service industry.
The company provides flavors and fragrances for 25,000 products, including cookies, ice cream, candies and snacks, as well as shampoo, perfumes and soaps.
It wasn’t easy.
Although the other partners withdrew after approximately three years, Quirós and Hoffmaister continued with the enterprise and took hold in a market niche as providers for other factories. Their desire to grow led them to export, consolidating a company that in recent years has obtained the recognition of one of its most important clients: Grupo Nutresa, representative of Pozuelo, the cookie company.
When the company began, communication technologies were lacking – the most advanced was the fax – so conquering the market required much more direct contact. The company’s first task was to supply companies located in Costa Rica.
Patience was an essential factor.
Staff would go to an institution to process paperwork for a new project and face the eternal problems: a missing stamp that had never been mentioned. A missing signature, and the official who had to sign it was on vacations. A missing document that had never been listed as a requirement. They would return time and time again, armed with insistence and the conviction of those who are determined to finish a task.
After 10 years of operations, ASTEK began to place its products in Nicaragua, and 15 years later in Panama. Today, the company serves clients throughout Central America and the Dominican Republic, seizing the opportunity afford by the regional Free Trade Agreement. The company is taking steps to sell in Mexico and Jamaica. Mexico is a more difficult market, but the company has sent samples and has already obtained one client in the pharmaceutical sector. Jamaica is a more unexplored market for Costa Rican companies, but the Dominican distributor offered to help facilitate ASTEK’s entry into the Caribbean island, where there is a nascent industry in the sectors for which the company offers products.
ASTEK is a chemical company whose products are sent directly to factories and, through those manufacturers, to the consumer. For example, in the case of ice cream, the vanilla or strawberry flavor is the result of the product ASTEK provides to manufacturers.
The growth of the company has not ceased.
“The goals we had set for 2020, we reached in 2018,” says Luis Arturo. “Now we are setting our goals for 2024, when we will celebrate our 50th anniversary.”
Finding a market opportunity both locally and regionally, and tenacity, have been the winning formula for this company, which today has collaborators on staff. Quirós added that the recognitions the company has received such as those awarded by Nutresa have also been based on the company’s commitment to economic, social and environmental responsibility, its clients and its employees, and quality. Nutresa works in 14 countries and has achieved more than $1 billion in sales in 75 countries. This giant has been a bulwark in ASTEK’s growth because of its support for 30 years, Quirós says. ASTEK has also done its part.
During the five years that Nutresa has been evaluating its suppliers, this is the second time that ASTEK obtains the award. In 2016, Nutresa recognized ASTEK as an exemplary supplier, just as it did recently, following a selection process that evaluated more than 18,000 companies around the world.
“This is an international award,” Quirós points out. There are three other Costa Rican companies with a Nutresa award:
Maluquer de Centroamérica, in innovation; Industrias de Huevo Innovo, in the fishing category; and Corporación FDC Técnica Industrial, in services.
In addition to the recognition as an exemplary supplier, Nutresa gave ASTEK its award for outstanding small and medium business in Costa Rica and in the category of raw industrial materials.
What are the characteristics needed for these awards?
Providing service without failures or rejected products. Punctual deliveries. That’s not easy to achieve, either. Since 2000, ASTEK has achieved various quality certification based on norms such as ISO, Carbon Neutral Plus and Esencial Costa Rica, meeting the standards required in each case. In addition, the company must be attentive to the demands and changes required by Nutresa itself. Now, ASTEK is in the process of transforming and modernizing its administration, which includes its management, dining and staff gym facilities. It is also working on a technological change: a digital employee time clock. All this seeks to achieve a more pleasant work environment.
“We are headed for greater innovations,” promises Luis Arturo Quirós.