by: María Cecilia Hernández
Having a Compact Disc in his hands at a time when few knew such a technological invention, was like having the future clear before his eyes. The Costa Rican Gilberto Chaves, founder and manager of the audio and video rental company, Avilco, joins us in this edition of AVI LATINOMÉRICA in the Professional of the Month section, where he narrates part of the story of his life as a way to inspire future generations to believe that the impossible is achieved when the heart is heeded.
Being born in a warm country like Costa Rica, specifically in its capital city, San José, is perhaps the essence that gives a vital energy to Gilberto Chaves, who at just turned 39 has done what he wanted and, better yet, has taken advantage of it.
The proof is that he is currently the owner of two well-known companies in his country: Masco S.A. which provides specialized audiovisual services in hotel chains and Avilco y Cía. S.A. It offers the same services, audio and video, and also complements with the lighting service, for the corporate market different from hotels.
Work and hobby at the same time
This story has its birth when he was just a teenager. His entrepreneurial character is the characteristic to which he attributes being today in the place he enjoys. "Almost by accident, in 1984, I had in my possession a test Compact Disc, which belonged to the Phillips company, who are the creators of this technology. This opened up a world of interest in the subject of digital technology, which at that time was almost unknown," recalls Chaves.
The businessman remembers with great enthusiasm how in the school years he met with three more friends and they set up his first business, "more as a hobby but thinking about a company," he says. The venture consisted of what the young people called a "mobile disco with a unique and innovative ingredient: we played the music only from compact discs, imagine the price and what we had to do to get a CD!"
During his time as a collegiate student everything that the young man did pointed to a single line, from which he has not left until today, his past, his present and what he expects from his future are so coherent that it is impossible not to think that this was his destiny, innovation and leadership are preserved in their essence. "In my golden years of school I participated in the scientific club, I was an amateur radio and I was in the musical band, in this way my taste for the artistic and musical part was glimpsed," he says.
The vision is not improvised
With an incredible technological and business vision, approaching the 1990s, Gilberto suspected, or rather, glimpsed the impact that innovation and technological development would have on daily life that would occur in the coming years and wanted to take advantage of this wave to make a business of which he was the owner. He prepared that path carefully, studying business administration and is currently advancing his master's degree in business administration with an emphasis on marketing and finance.
"My life as an entrepreneur and worker was born with Compact Disc Movil, the only one of its kind, which played on CD and with an amazing clarity the music of acetate discs. This represented a boom for being novel, having a differentiating factor and being a reproduction of excellent quality. So I started my adventure with a north that to this day is still present: to provide my clients with the maximum possible technology and innovation in the services we offer them. I am convinced of innovation, because through market research and my experience I have been able to recognize the demands of the public, who are eager to know new technologies daily, "says Chaves.
'Being a pioneer' does not mean 'being the only one'
However, being a pioneer in providing innovative services that include technologies has its risks. In 1997, that adventurous project was formalized, Masco S.A. was born. As the first company in Costa Rica to provide audio and video services for the hotel industry under the modality of outsourcing. A year later they were not the only ones in the market, companies that operated with the same system and the same services were elbowing in the panorama 'snatching customers and occupying territories'. Masco currently provides its services to 80% of the hotel market.
"This competitive situation was for us more of a great opportunity than an obstacle. It made us land and rethink new business strategies. We analyzed new market niches and thus created a company that covered the three most sensitive and representative areas of the world of entertainment. Audio Video Iluminación y Cía. S.A. The proposal was called, later it was positioned as Avilco S.A. We left with all the impetus to work with a clear goal: to be the leading rental company in the corporate audiovisual market throughout the country, "says the manager.
At the same time, Masco continued on its way and is still valid today for its hotel market niche. Gilberto Chaves is the manager of the two companies, an activity that combines with his family life, "I have a wonderful family, my wife is called Constanza Soto with whom for more than 14 years I have been happily married. We have two children, Ernesto, 11, and Sofia, 8; they are my reason for moving forward in this walk of joy and challenges."
There is only one chance to get it right
He is a faithful believer in education as the main ally of business growth, for that reason he dedicates an important part of the company's budget for the training of its employees, because he also recognizes that it is difficult for him to delegate functions due to his perfectionism.
"Every technological innovation that we incorporate is accompanied by growth in the knowledge of our employees. My biggest challenge is having to delegate responsibility and authority to middle management since I am very meticulous and detailed. In the audiovisual market there are no second chances, so things must be done well from the beginning. However, I understand that if the organization is well aligned with the strategy, the path is flatter."
Costa Rica is clearly profiled as a tourist destination for conventions and events. Therefore, companies that belong to the audio and video sector have avant-garde challenges that deserve significant investments, both in human and technical equipment.
According to Gilberto, Latin America must be prepared for the digital signage era and 3D technology, as it is the only way to take advantage of the demand for services that he is sure will come soon, since he recognizes that a large part of the competitors in this business are empirical people who offer low prices, without ensuring or guaranteeing their own profitability and the quality of work.
Let the heart respond
When asked about the cause of his passion for this industry, Gilberto Chaves says that he simply feels how adrenaline runs through his body with each new project and remembers with great emotion a particular moment: "Definitely the back stage tours in the Cirque du Soleil have been memorable moments, they have served me radically to know that great things can be done and that in Latin America we can reach unimaginable levels of professionalism."