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Rapid growth in Spain

The office in Spain opened in 2016 and, at the moment, many things are happening. We met with Rodolfo Alonso to discuss Jacobi from a Spanish perspective, their success factors, and what lies on the horizon.

“With the contracts for Canal Isabel, which provides potable water to citizens in the Madrid area, and Aigües de Barcelona, which is the water company in Barcelona, we have the water suppliers for the two biggest cities in Spain as our clients. An honour, when you think of the importance of being a supplier to the companies who provide water to around 9 million people,” says a happy Rodolfo Alonso, Sales Director for Iberia.

Nice to meet you, Rodolfo, maybe you can start by telling us what you do?

I am Sales Director for Iberia, and responsible for developing the business in Spain, Portugal, Andorra, and Gibraltar – the southwest corner of Europe, with a population of about 53 million people.

How long have you been with Jacobi?

I joined the company two years ago. Previously I was working in various industrial environments, but always with activated carbon or cryogenic gases. For nine years, I worked for companies like Air Liquide and Cabot (Norit), so I have good experience in markets like potable water, food, chemicals, and pharma.

In Santillana, we recently reactivated nearly 600m3 of carbon and coordinated the entire process with Canal Isabel contractors.

What does the competition look like in your area?

We have a couple of major producers, but also local distributors to compete with, so we are never bored. In our mid-term business plan, the aim was to become the biggest player for reactivation in the area, and we achieved this by being awarded two of the biggest available contracts in that market. Those were Canal Isabel, which provides potable water to citizens in the Madrid area, and Aigües de Barcelona (via Logistium, a SUEZ company) that provides water to the Barcelona area.

This means that we have the water suppliers for the two biggest cities in Spain as our clients. We have contracts for the next three years, which is approximately 5,000 m3 per year, that is around 50% of the market quote.

That’s quite a responsibility, providing two large cities with water.

Yes, it certainly is, especially with sensitive products like potable water. However, the extensive reactiviation experience of our site in France, the support of Application Specialists, and the outstanding execution by our local team have made us very confident.

Part of the sewer system for Canal Isabel.

You did an installation recently for Canal Isabel. Can you tell us about it?

Yes, Canal Isabel has five waterworks and provides water for more than 6 million people. In this case, we were asked to start reactivation in Santillana, the facility is located in the north of Madrid.
There we reactivated nearly 600 m3 (two large filters). The challenge was to coordinate the entire process of extraction, transportation, and reactivation with some work that needed to be done by the Canal Isabel contractors into the filters. This was not described in the scope of the project, but we managed to give them this added value.

What does the team look like in Spain?

We have two people working on-site at the potable waterworks, Alberto and Felix. In customer service, we have Silvia, and Jesus is Sales and Site manager, which means that he coordinates everything related to the site such as finance, logistics, personnel, and he supports sales too. And finally, there is me. I work 100% on sales.

In 1851, Queen Isabel II commissioned the construction of a water channel, which became Canal Isabel.

What are the next challenges for Jacobi in your region?

Once we have fixed the reactivation bottoms for the next three years, we aim to grow in fresh carbon with GAC and PAC. Our resins and mobile filter units will focus on other sectors like food, chemicals, and pharma, where cross-selling is possible. I think there is a lot we can help companies with because we have a unique combination of product, market knowledge, and technical support.

One final question, what do you do when you are not working?

I’m married with two kids, a boy of five and a girl of two, so my wife Marta and I are never bored in our spare time. After living for more than 40 years in a big city like Barcelona, on weekends we like to escape to the countryside and enjoy the mountains, and especially the snow in winter.

I also like training for triathlon events. I like to have at least one sporting challenge every year. In 2021 I will try to finish my third Ironman on the island of Lanzarote. I have a challenge of matching my colleague Viktoria, from Kalmar (also featured in this magazine). She has competed in 28 Ironman events. Maybe it will not happen in this life, but wish me luck, I’ll need it.

If you want to know more about our business in Spain and Portugal, reach out to Rodolfo Alonso,

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