Mauricio Arce Lara: Building a Legacy of Purpose

Defining Success Beyond the Bottom Line: One CEO’s Journey of Impact and Innovation!

Success is often equated with financial achievements, but it goes beyond that. True success is about waking up each day with a sense of purpose, a drive to make a positive impact on the world, and to help others succeed in their own endeavors. It’s about finding fulfillment in not just what we achieve for ourselves, but also in what we do for others.

In the world of land development and real estate, Mauricio Arce Lara, the CEO of PIASA (Planes Inmobiliarios y Agroindustriales, S.A.), is a name that resonates with dedication and innovative thinking.

For Mauricio, success means more than just financial achievements. It’s about waking up each day with the drive to make a positive impact on the world and help others succeed in their businesses. His philosophy is simple: “Putting your heart and soul into what you do every day is what makes me feel like a very successful person.”

Mauricio’s journey started in the San Jose area of Costa Rica. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Universidad de Costa Rica in 1993. This laid the groundwork for his career in land development.

He continued his education, earning a Master of Business Administration from National University and a Master of Science in Construction Management from Texas A&M University. Mauricio’s academic pursuits equipped him with a well-rounded skill set, essential for success in the real estate sector.

Additionally, he’s shared his knowledge by teaching courses on project structuring and evaluation, contributing to the education of future professionals in the field.

Mauricio Arce Lara is an advocate for innovation. Under his leadership, PIASA has not only engaged in traditional land development but has also embraced novel approaches, integrating sustainable technologies and practices into their projects.

His financial acumen, complemented by studies at INCAE Business School’s Project Finance program, has enabled PIASA to navigate the intricacies of the real estate market effectively.

Below are the highlights of the interview:

50 Years of Shaping Business Parks and Latin American Infrastructure

Since its establishment in 1971, PIASA, a distinguished player in Latin America’s Business Parks design, has been committed to fostering regional development. With a track record spanning over half a century, the company has maintained its Costa Rican ownership and offered exceptional consulting services in architecture, engineering, project structuring, feasibility studies, and project management with a focus on innovative and efficient solutions.

Mauricio Arce Lara’s journey with PIASA commenced in 1988. His efforts to enhance regional logistics and industrial infrastructure by adopting best practices from around the world have played a pivotal role in positioning PIASA as a market leader. Since 2007, Mauricio has held the position of PIASA’s CEO and also serves as a partner in the firm.

Under Mauricio’s leadership, PIASA has expanded its footprint to encompass new regions. It has risen to prominence in Costa Rica, Panama, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, and has extended its services to projects in the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, other Caribbean Islands, Colombia, Peru, and Paraguay.

PIASA’s core services revolve around land planning, project structuring, financial analysis, architecture, engineering, and project management. The company has earned a well-deserved reputation through its diverse portfolio, which includes projects in airports, commercial developments, hospitals, medical centers, hotels, offices, institutions, logistics and industrial parks, banks, and residential and urban developments.

With a primary focus on Business Park planning, particularly for manufacturing and supply chain operations, PIASA is currently engaged in designing more than 16 business parks across the region. These parks offer a combined floor space of over 20 million square feet, making them ideal for manufacturing and distribution operations.

Mauricio Arce Lara is optimistic about PIASA’s future. As a growing enterprise, their chief goal is to fortify operations across South and Central America, along with the Caribbean. Building the most talented team for the years ahead is a top priority. Additionally, they are in the planning stages of launching businesses in Puerto Rico and Ecuador, with an anticipated debut as early as 2024.

Approach to Innovating Latin America’s Logistics Landscape

PIASA, under the leadership of Mauricio Arce Lara, has set a remarkable precedent in the engineering and architecture field. Understanding the unique needs of each customer and tailoring the design of distribution centers accordingly is the company’s forte. Recognizing that every company entering the market or expanding operations possesses distinct characteristics related to production, storage, picking, and merchandise management, PIASA is committed to optimizing every design and maximizing resources for manufacturing facilities and distribution centers.

Innovation and continuous improvement lie at the core of PIASA’s values. The technical team leverages cutting-edge tools like three-dimensional Building Information Modelling and virtual reality throughout the design process. These technological advancements empower the company to deliver efficient and tailored solutions.

Mauricio Arce Lara’s vision for PIASA is clear: “Our goal is always focused on innovation and transformation of the manufacturing and logistics map in the region. In most parts of Latin America, this process is just beginning. PIASA is committed to continue leading this transformation, offering innovative solutions adapted to the needs of the market.”

The essence of PIASA is encapsulated in its core values:

  • Creativity: The belief that anything is possible.
  • Excellence: The pursuit of the best solution.
  • Trust: The foundation for lasting relationships.
  • Innovation: A commitment to continuous evolution.
  • Accessibility: Ensuring ease of contact for clients.

Mauricio Arce Lara considers it a privilege to have played a pivotal role in the development of the logistical and industrial infrastructure in the region over the past two decades. This transformation involved the establishment of business parks and facilities previously unseen in the area.

Shifting the mindset from the typical “business as usual” approach in the early stages was no small feat. However, Mauricio found it immensely gratifying to witness major companies placing their trust and confidence in the region as a result of this shift.

Reflecting on the last 20 years at PIASA, he emphasizes, “We’ve consolidated our experience and best practices by observing and learning from parks construction and operations in first-world countries. This approach has enabled us to create infrastructure that optimizes manufacturing processes, storage, and merchandise distribution.”

The Path Less Traveled

In the world of professional achievement, Mauricio Arce Lara firmly believes that there is no simple and straightforward route. Instead, he has dedicated his professional life to the formidable task of transforming an entire industry, pioneering a new standard amidst traditional thinking and investment in the region. His mission is clear: to construct and create using a different set of criteria.

Mauricio’s unwavering belief in his ideas and their potential to create positive change has led him to take the road less traveled, even when it is the more challenging path. He emphasizes, “All paths that lead to a successful career are not easy roads. The main task in my professional life has been the challenge of transformation of the industry, of building and creating based on a new standard, amidst the old way of thinking and investing in the region. Believing in your ideas and knowing they are for the better, will lead you, eventually, to prove to everybody you were right, that the hardest way is where the payday is, and that is the road less traveled.”

Mauricio recognizes the significant impact of scientific and technological advances in recent decades. These advances have positively transformed the world, revolutionizing the way people connect, work, foster personal relationships, and understand environmental and sustainable living issues.

He emphasizes the need to incorporate these critical issues into a more comprehensive approach to conducting business for long-term success and the anticipated growth in the coming years in America. Mauricio envisions simultaneous progress in employment and economic growth in the United States through the integration of these transformative changes.

Reflecting on his journey, Mauricio values the spirit of collaboration and knowledge-sharing. He sees himself as the opposite of selfish and wishes to impart his knowledge, experiences, and countless hours of work, learning, and experimentation to the next generations. Collaboration and the sharing of knowledge are the legacies he aims to leave for the benefit of future generations.

Empowering Excellence

At PIASA, Mauricio Arce Lara assumes a pivotal role as the leader of a diverse and talented team of professionals encompassing engineering, architecture, finance, law, and marketing and sales. His chief responsibility is to assess the strengths and weaknesses of each team member, a role he takes seriously to ensure that everyone reaches their full potential by being assigned work that aligns with their strengths and passions.

In addition to this critical role, Mauricio actively participates in the initial stages of the creative process for projects. He serves as a rainmaker, playing a vital part in bringing new business opportunities to the company.

Mauricio cherishes the quiet, creative moments with his team and the engaging conversations with clients about new projects. He describes himself as authentic and adopts a management style that prioritizes empowering professionals within his team to facilitate rapid growth and learning.

He shares his perspective, stating, “What I definitively enjoy the most is the quiet creative moments with my team and the conversations with my clients about a new project. I consider myself to be very authentic, and the management style that I have is empowering our professionals as much as possible, allowing them to grow and learn as quickly as possible.”

Mauricio’s approach at PIASA not only focuses on the success of the company but also on the personal and professional development of the individuals who make up the team. This emphasis on empowerment and growth is a testament to his commitment to excellence in leadership.

Balancing Act

Mauricio Arce Lara’s workday commences with the break of dawn, as he resides on a dairy farm that necessitates early morning outdoor responsibilities. The farm’s doors swing open at 7 AM. During standard business hours, he adeptly divides his attention across four distinct domains, ensuring a harmonious blend of personal and professional life.

A quarter of his day, or 25 percent, is devoted to supervising ongoing projects and collaborating with engineers and architects during the critical early phases of the creative process. Mauricio’s hands-on involvement ensures that projects are grounded in innovation and excellence.

Another 25 percent of his time is spent in the role of a counselor and facilitator for all his collaborators. Guiding and nurturing the talent within his team is a priority, reflecting his commitment to their growth and development.

A substantial portion, again 25 percent, is dedicated to meeting with clients and exploring new project opportunities. This engagement forms a crucial part of building and expanding PIASA’s portfolio.

The final 25 percent of Mauricio’s workday is earmarked for administrative and financial responsibilities, ensuring the efficient management of the company’s operations.

Mauricio places great emphasis on striking a balance between his personal and professional lives. His diverse range of activities includes sharing meals with loved ones, indulging in sports like tennis or golf, spending quality time with friends, and participating in business matters.

Weekends are a sanctuary for family, friends, and personal pursuits. Mauricio prefers not to work in the office during the weekends, choosing instead to invest his time with loved ones, basking in the serenity of the beach, or tending to his farms.