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The head of one of Spain's biggest multinational companies talks about how he set up the business and what is the key to its success
26.09.12 - 16:24 -
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"There is only one formula for success: you have to work hard and work well"
Sánchez says El Palmeral reflects a “bright and modern city”. C. Moret
José Luis Sánchez Domínguez is well-known as the head of the Sando construction company, perhaps because his life has been dedicated to his business. He suggests that we stroll through El Palmeral as we chat. “We didn't build it, but it is difficult to think of anywhere more typical of Malaga. It is bright, modern, well made... as a city should be”. He speaks of Malaga with a passion, although not without criticism: “Malaga has changed a great deal since the Transition, although we still don’t pay enough attention to public areas. Civic education progresses too slowly”.
This successful businessman was born in 1938, beside the railway tracks and as the son of a railway worker. He remembers the single-storey house and the hens and rabbits in the patio. “Self-sufficiency was a necessity”, he says. At the age of 14 he went to Lucena, to help a childless uncle who had a stall in the indoor market. After a couple of years, he rented a lorry so he could handle the loading himself, working 15 to 18 hours a day. “Seven days a week, 364 days a year. We only took Good Friday off”, he remembers. “When I heard debates about working weeks of forty or thirty five hours, I was pleased. I had an advantage because I was prepared to work a lot more and I liked doing it”.
When he was 22 he came back to Malaga and worked for Oxídrica Malagueña, delivering oxygen and acetylene to hospitals and workshops. He then bought a three-wheeled van and the framed receipt for that purchase hangs in his office today. “I don't pretend to be anything I’m not. My father was who he was and I am who I am. I look at my life with pride”, he says. Later, he bought more lorries to offer different types of transport to clients and he travelled longer distances. Only when his business was well established did he get married. “It was on Christmas Eve, to take advantage of the public holiday”, he says, something which was referred to years later by the Minister who awarded him the Medal For Work.
His first major break as a constructor came in 1974 when he was contracted to build the accesses and level the ground for the new Pryca shopping centre. After that he opened the branch in Seville and then another in Madrid to operate in the national and international market, “but we always remained a family business”. This man, who works non-stop, believes Spain is not competitive enough (“You have to produce more and better than your rivals”) and that there is a lack of patriotism (“I don’t see a society which is prepared to work for the good of Spain”).
There is, he says, just one formula: work hard, work well, and for the good of all. The crisis will require sacrifice and his sector is no exception. “We’re going to have to suffer, definitely”, he says. He perceives a lack of leadership by the State and lack of sense by the political class in facing up to this national emergency: “You have to be blind not to see the need to join forces for the good of everybody. To save Spain. It’s so obvious”.


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