Bridgestone announced the opening of its new Financial Shared Services Center for Latin America in San José, Costa Rica, on October 1st. This $2.5 million, state-of-the-art center will handle financial and accounting operations for all seven Latin American countries that make up Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations Latin America (BATO LA).
The grand opening ceremony was attended by numerous officials, including Laura Chinchilla Miranda, the President of Costa Rica, Anabel González, Minister of Foreign Trade, Daniel Benvenuti, President and General Director of Bridgestone México and Latin America, and Jaime Torres, the Director of the Shared Services Center.
The shared services center will provide a significant improvement in the quality and availability of financial information for all of Bridgestone’s Latin American operations, as well as allow for the optimization of technology and analytical assessment of the different business units. This advanced shared services operation has already hired 40 employees and plans to hire 80 more over the next year or so to bring the total number of employees to 120.
Director Torres explains why Costa Rica was chosen as the location for the Latin American financial shared services center. “Developing this platform was a great challenge, but the quality of the human capital in Costa Rica, its strategic advantages such as geographical location, infrastructure and a democratic government that is engaged with the country´s development, made our decision easy and ensures our success.”
Bridgestone in Costa Rica
Bridgestone has had a presence in Costa Rica for over 40 years, having established its first tire manufacturing facility in the country in 1967. Bridgestone de Costa Rica has expanded to include manufacturing facilities and management operations employing over 1000 Costa Ricans. Bridgestone is also investing $70 million over the next five years to upgrade its manufacturing plant in Heredia province. BSCR reported $252 million in total sales in 2011.
In regard to Bridgestone’s expanding footprint in the country, Foreign Trade Minister Gonzalez commented that “Bridgestone becomes the second company in the advanced manufacturing sector in Costa Rica to also integrate a shared services operation. This showcases the country´s potential and the business opportunities that exist for companies looking to grow and diversify their operations.” Gonzalez went on to add that Bridgestone was the first Japanese company in Costa Rica with both a production center and a high value added shared services operation.
BATO LA Shared Services Center
According to Bridgestone senior management, the new shared services center will allow BATO LA to better leverage its IT infrastructure, standardize processes and develop a flexible, efficient organizational structure.
Director Torres breaks down the organizational structure of the SSC below. “At the SSC we have 4 different departments: Record to Report, Procure to Pay, Order to Cash and Performance, Improvement and Controls.”
Torres also discusses the overall impact of the SSC. “We are standardizing and improving our financial services operations. By centralizing our accounting routines,we expect to obtain a better use of our human resource capacity in financial areas.”
He goes on to say that as of mid-November, “We have hired over 40 analysts and supervisors, and we have completely migrated Costa Rica and are in the process of migrating Mexico and Colombia.”
Shared Services in Costa Rica
Bridgestone is just the latest of several foreign companies that have opened shared services operations in Costa Rica over the last few years. Multinationals like Western Union and HP have had IT services and software development operations in Costa Rica for several years.
Curtiss-Wright Controls opened a financial shared services operation in Costa Rica in February of 2011. This shared service operation is based in Langunilla, Heredia, and is similar to Bridgestone’s finance-focused operation that it also deals with transactional accounting processes including Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable and Credit & Collections for internal clients.