Like many companies looking for a place to establish their headquarters for the Americas or Latin America and the Caribbean, NEORIS, an international business and information technology (IT) consulting firm, chose Miami in 2000, partly because of its excellent geographical location and cultural mix.
But for NEORIS, a subsidiary of CEMEX, the global producer of cement and building materials based in Mexico, Miami is not just a regional center: it is the firm’s world headquarters.
“When NEORIS chose Miami, the company was trying to gain new clients in the U.S., Europe and other countries,” said Claudio Muruzábal, who took over as CEO in 2004. “It made sense to locate our headquarters in Miami,” said Muruzábal, who was born in Argentina and held executive positions in data management and IT companies like NCR/Teredata.
“But the city is not just a logistics hub, it’s a hub for professional talent, universities and culture,” he added.
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“We came to Miami for the logistics, but we stayed for the culture.”
NEORIS got its start in Monterrey, Mexico, in 1993 as Cemtec, the cement company’s internal IT arm. NEORIS was born in 2000 by merging Cemtec with four other software and Internet solutions providers from Latin America. The new company established its international headquarters in Miami the same year.
Since 2000, NEORIS has operated as a separate consulting firm and has built a client base of over 300 companies in the industrial, retail, transportation and telecommunications sectors, as well among universities and government agencies. The firm also continues to do consulting work for its parent, CEMEX.
Today, NEORIS has more than 3,500 employees and operates in the U.S., Latin America, Europe, Africa and the Middle East. It has more than 50 employees at its corporate office in Miami and eight software development/solution centers in Latin America and Europe.
It is one of the largest IT consulting and systems integration companies among the 150 ranked in Latin America by IDC, the global market intelligence firm, and the largest in Mexico.
About 40 percent of the consultancy’s business comes from Latin America, the remainder from the U.S., Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
Last year, NEORIS had revenues of more than $300 million. In comparison, its parent company – CEMEX – has 43,000 employees and reported worldwide net sales of more than $15.2 billion in 2013.
“We have a virtual corporate office,” said Muruzábal, a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) who earned a graduate degree in business administration from the Universidad Católica Argentina in Buenos Aires and an MBA from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University.
“We’re a very lean organization,” he added. “We are a combination of people who live and work in different countries, and Miami is the glue that holds us together.”
NEORIS works in a highly competitive field. It goes up against big dogs like IBM and Accenture, as well as legions of other consultancies all over the world.
How has a Latin American consulting company in this difficult international arena been able to successfully compete and grow?
“Consulting is a very crowded market,” said Muruzábal. “To be successful you have to show clients that you provide a meaningful contribution.”
NEORIS consultants start by understanding what a client wants or needs. “We go into companies, work hand-in-hand with them, understand all aspects of their business and offer solutions that improve their results,” the firm’s CEO said. “We are practical visionaries and innovators. This is not just a marketing term – we look at new ideas, different technologies and other ways of doing things. We ask people in the client’s company, ‘How can we help?’ We either help them or we find a third party that can.”
“This is a different approach from some consultants who go into a company, offer a preset solution and leave,” he said. “Consultants from India, for example, usually send in people, find out what is going on, take the problem back to India and work on it there.”
NEORIS believes in getting very close to the client and developing long-term relationships, saying that 73 percent of clients do business with them for more than five years.
One example of how NEORIS helped clients involved two large hospitals, one in Santiago, Chile, and the other in Monterrey, Mexico. The hospitals had millions of dollars in mobile equipment – X-rays, ultrasounds, EKGs, special pumps, etc. – that was not available when doctors or nurses needed them. They weren’t stolen, but were left in places where they couldn’t be found. NEORIS suggested attaching small RFID (radio-frequency ID) devices to the equipment so that signals could tell each nursing station where a piece of equipment was located on their floor or in their sector.
Also, a large Brazilian steel mill wanted better control over the thousands of steps involved in producing steel and shaping a wide range of products. Working with SAP, the German software giant, NEORIS developed and installed a system allowing employees to monitor and control the complex processes at the steel mill. NEORIS consultants worked closely with the mill’s employees to understand every step of the steel-making process, while SAP developed software that met the specific needs of the client.
NEORIS has grown in several ways. It has attracted new clients by word of mouth, acquired smaller companies that added technology and skills, and partnered with global computer, software and IT companies like SAP, Adobe, Intel, and Microsoft to offer a broad range of technology solutions.
“We’ve been able to grow by double digits over the last ten years,” said Muruzábal. “We try to be of value to our clients over the long term.”
According to Joseph Ganitsky, director of the University of Miami Center for International Business Education and Research and senior lecturer in management, NEORIS has set itself apart from competitors because it is “relatively small, flexible and more agile.” Also, it is “more humble than others, a reflection of them originally being from an emerging market and of being ‘late entrants’ into global markets,” Ganitsky said.
There is also a “symbiotic relationship” between NEORIS and the needs of so-called “challengers” – companies that want to succeed against much larger and dominant players. “Challengers feel more comfortable with NEORIS’ expertise and approaches,” the UM professor said.
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Business: A business and information technology (IT) consulting firm based in Miami with operations in the U.S., Europe, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East. NEORIS, whose name means “New Vision,” started out as the internal IT arm of Mexico’s CEMEX, one of the world’s largest producers of cement and construction materials, and became a separate unit in 2000. Today its 3,500 employees provide consulting services to over 300 international clients in dozens of countries.
Headquarters: 703 Waterford Way, Miami,
CEO: Claudio Muruzábal
Founded: in 2000, by combining five software and IT consulting firms from Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Spain and Venezuela.
Employees: over 50 at the Miami corporate office
Ownership: Over 90 percent owned by Mexico-based CEMEX, a publicly traded company
Revenues: NEORIS revenues were more than $300 million in 2013; CEMEX had worldwide net sales of over $15.2 billion for the same year.
Clients: Companies in financial services (Citi, Santander, MasterCard), transportation (Embraer, LAN Airlines), telecommunications (Telefónica, Ericsson, Siemens), manufacturing (BASF, Usiminas, CEMEX, Cargill), retail (Lowe’s, Whole Foods, McDonald’s) as well as utility companies and government entities.