60 years of commitment to Cantabria. This is the trajectory of Industrias Hergom, the company that Manuel Gómez Casuso created in 1959. A company that, although it has grown to be present today in more than forty countries, with production centers in Europe and America, retains its family spirit. And a sign of identity that Mar Gómez Casuso, daughter of the group’s founder and current CEO, proudly displays. “I feel privileged to belong to a family business and because of the legacy I received.”
After completing his degree in psychology specializing in industrial psychology and an MBA from the Instituto de Empresa, Mar joined one of the group’s subsidiaries, Exclusivas Casuso, in the management and commercial areas. Two years later, he moved to the parent company, Industrias Hergom, to perform executive tasks, mainly in human resources and management, as part of the board of directors of both Hergom and the American subsidiary Hearthstone Corporation.
“Hergom is the result of the dream of a great businessman, my father, Manuel Gomez Casuso”
On the other hand, for six years she held the position of President of the Cantabrian Association of Family Businesses, and is currently Director of the Alianza por Iberoamérica Business Council and is part of the Liberbank Advisory Board.
Honored with the Woman Entrepreneur Award this 2022, Mar appreciates that these awards appreciate the work that companies do and collaborate so that “society perceives the efforts that we make.” Likewise, she believes it is important to give visibility to women within the business fabric. Access to senior positions continues to face barriers today and, he says, “despite progress, there is little and poor recognition of women’s talent.” For this reason, he advocates for “the whole society to make a real effort” to promote change that prevents “new generations from suffering the same situations as before”.
– Is this award an incentive to continue working and developing?
– I think that any recognition is very good, both for the person who receives it and for the group to which he belongs. Undoubtedly, the fact that society perceives the efforts of companies and their importance is absolutely necessary. We all depend on them and having them valued is highly valued. On the other hand, the daily work and growth is part of the reason for our activity.
– Holding positions of responsibility in the industry is associated with men, is it true or is it a cliché?
-Unfortunately, it’s not a cliché. Despite progress, today there are still redoubts of scant and poor perception of women’s talent. Also, in organizations in many cases it also becomes a problem of people’s egos rather than gender.
– Are we on the right track to achieve real equality in access to high positions?
-Yes, but society still has a long way to go. All of us, men, women, administrations, companies… must make a real effort. If not, new generations will suffer the same situations as before. Not a step back from that.
“In a world with so much uncertainty, we have to be alert and strategize every day”
– Do you think you have had to take on different challenges than your male colleagues to grow as a businesswoman?
– I consider myself really privileged for belonging to a family business, for the inheritance I received. I think this greatly facilitated my role in the company and conditioned my growth.
What I missed along the way, especially at the beginning of my career, was not being able to rely on my father’s presence as a mentor, as he had passed away when I joined and his support would have been crucial.
– Does a woman need to develop specific skills or strengths to reach the same professional destination as a man?
-Not necessarily. People have different skills and strengths. Another thing is how they are evaluated according to the gender they belong to.
-Entrepreneurship is already a difficult decision to make in the current economic context, do you think it is even more complicated for women?
– It’s hard for everyone. It is true that there is now a better perception by society of the entrepreneur, male or female, which is helping more and more people to start their entrepreneurial adventure.
-What would you recommend to someone considering starting a company?
– Don’t give up on your dream. Start this activity. That, if possible, to turn it into a business. And the biggest and most important leap that makes this activity-business a company, a complex structure that includes people, society… All this always with great enthusiasm and effort.
– Do you think it is necessary to expand the entrepreneurial culture in the education sector, considering our economic structure?
– There is no other, not only entrepreneurial, but also business culture, which is another step. We must learn that we all, directly or indirectly, live off companies and that they must have benefits, otherwise they would not be companies. Another thing is the idea that everyone has about what to do with this benefit.
-And it specifically affects girls?
– We need to develop the talent of our children, and the fact that there are specific entrepreneurship programs for girls helps. There are still many stereotypes to break that can stop their callings.
“This society perceives the efforts that companies are making and their importance is absolutely necessary”
-What are the qualities that define Hergom’s business philosophy?
-Hergom is the consequence of an idea, an effort and in short the dream of a great businessman, my father, Manuel Gomez Casuso, who knew how to transmit values and a way of working and doing business that everyone, shareholders and workers, we maintain until today.
-What is the state of the sector at the moment?
-At present, the industrial sector is penalized by many disadvantages such as environmental measures, terrible energy costs, supply chain problems, difficulties and excessive costs of transportation, rampant inflation, uncertainty of demand in a recessionary scenario, labor conflicts, lack of skilled personnel , recruitment difficulties due to the rigidity of our labor laws… This set of factors makes the development of industrial activity really complicated, but this is the scenario in which we as entrepreneurs have to operate.
Fortunately, nationally and internationally we are a benchmark and in these times of energy scarcity, our firewood products are a great solution, which is why their demand in Spain and other countries has increased.
-How does the energy crisis affect you at the level of production?
– The energy crisis increased our production costs by a very high percentage, since the main component of the products is cast iron, and the foundry plant is very intensive in electricity consumption. This has impacted our product margins as we have to constantly seek process efficiencies.
-What future prospects does the company consider in the medium and long term?
– Talking about prospects in a world of uncertainty like the current one is always complicated. The pandemic resulting from covid is followed by war, energy crisis… We have to be alert, which forces us almost daily to strategize and look for solutions.
Sustainability and efficiency, its pillars
Stoves, fireplaces and kitchens are the ambassadors of the Hergom brand, which has been dedicated to the production of heating products for the home since its inception. During its more than sixty years of experience, this family company has gained considerable success and valuable experience in the production of all ranges of wood and biomass heating systems, relying on natural fuels as part of its commitment to sustainability.
Achieving maximum efficiency through investment in R+D+i is the other pillar on which its business philosophy is based. Hergom is one of the few brands that has its own foundry, which makes it possible to guarantee the complete development of all devices, from design to final evaluation.
The company currently generates more than 200 jobs and is present directly in Spain, with foundries and production facilities; USA and Belgium, with production facilities; Portugal and Mexico. In addition, indirectly through importers, the brand is found in another forty countries around the world.