AGQ, the orange-born laboratory that seeks to contribute outside of Spain

AGQ Labs was born almost three decades ago in the mind of a couple of Sevillian chemical engineers, Estanislao Martínez (its president and first manager) and his wife Maria Zamora. They created it with the old name of Agriquem to apply the knowledge acquired at the Hispalense and Autonomous Universities of Madrid in the fields of orange and stone fruit cultivation that surround the hometown of Martínez (Burguillos, north of Seville). Today, Martínez applies his own recipes in his own orange groves in the area.

With tenacity and conviction that their business proposal was underway, they have come today to lead a group present in 25 countries, which bills 50 million and that from the field has jumped into livestock, mining, environment or health with 850 people on staff. "Looking to the future, we have hardly started," Martínez says with a smile in an encounter with El Confidencial.

The firm maintains its main laboratory, a reference for the rest of its network, in Burguillos. But it has created or acquired another eleven in nine countries in Europe, America and Africa. "Our growth is not limited by the market, where the opportunities are enormous, nor the financial resources, since we have prevailed to obtain profitability and our gross profit stays between 22 and 25 percent of our sales, "argues the president.

"My obsession at this time is the professionalization at all levels, also of our shareholders, through the entry of institutional partners that help us from an industrial or international point of view, partners that can also reach the stock market, "he reveals. It is not something immediate, that the manager has on the table today, but the conditions could be met for it in the coming years, he says.

"Not because we need it financially," he insists, "but because it is also a way to facilitate the professional entry of new family members into the company," he says. AGQ already shuffled and then ruled out in 2014 its jump to MAB: "The Gowex and Carbures crises scared us," he acknowledges. Martínez recalls that in that year they had, after a stage of growth inside and outside Spain, very good prospects for the next five years. "We offered good visibility to potential investors," he summarizes. Their forecasts have been fulfilled, and the Stock Exchange reappears as an option for the next stage of deployment.

Multinational competition

Frankfurt, London and even New York They are the places where they would study such an operation. "In these markets, they understand our business model better, our competition is formed by large multinationals such as SGS or Eurofins and our value would be better recognized there.". AGQ wants to double its gross profit up to 30 million in 2025 while multiplying income to a fork of between 100 and 150 million." One part will be organic and another with acquisitions, we want to expand laboratory capacity in oenology and oil made of olives. Argentina, Mexico or Spain are the countries in which we look for options, "says the president.

The expected growth will come from bringing all business areas to all countries (25), and by purchases: they want oenology and oil laboratories

Last year they bought two companies, in Chile and Madrid. The latter, that of the Alkemi laboratory, has allowed them now cover the entire agri-food value chain from the origin to the supermarket. For its part, organic growth is aimed at the progressive implementation in all its markets of all its business divisions. "Environment, for example, is the branch that invoices the most in the four markets where we have it operational, now we have to take it to the other twenty." Geographically, AGQ It has no presence in Asia, the Middle East, Australia and only Morocco and South Africa throughout Africa, Martínez remembers.

The last diversification has been to health, since Alkemi is also accredited before the Spanish Medicines Agency. The business conception of the president of AGQ has varied and has been defined in these almost three decades of activity. Although, from the beginning, "we wanted to go far beyond the mere analytical report." Now, based on its technical and scientific knowledge, the company offers matrix of specialized services that help natural resource management of any kind with safety, security, sustainability and efficiency. Whether maximizing strawberry cultivation or controlling the quality of a pharmaceutical component.

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