n a Zoom meeting from Heredia, Costa Rica, a northern suburb of the capital city San José, Gene Conley aims his laptop camera at the floor-to-ceiling windows of Boston Consulting Group’s newest global hub, located at Heredia’s Ultrapark I office complex.
“You can see,” Conley narrates, “the beauty of San José and the mountains all around us. You see the Escazu on this side and the Poas on that side.”
To Conley, who established the hub in 2021 as BCG’s country leader for Costa Rica, that visceral, visual connection is about more than mere aesthetics.
“All of our employees have a view out these windows,” he says. “So, while they get to enjoy the beauty of looking out into Costa Rica, it reminds us metaphorically to be looking out to support the customers and clients that we serve, and to be externally focused that way.”
Marvelous as it is, that inspiring, unobstructed vista — delivered by a tandem of nature and the exacting specifications of Costa Rica’s Ultrapark Development Group — wasn’t precisely the main driver for one of the world’s leading management consulting firms to plant a flag in San José. With global service centers in cities including Atlanta, Delhi, London, Madrid and Munich, BSG came to see Costa Rica as a “natural fit,” says Conley, for the group’s expansion into Latin America.
“We looked at all the likely candidates, which would include the traditional hubs like Mexico City, Panama City, Santiago, Chile, and Quito, Ecuador. Costa Rica just kept coming up both in terms of data and anecdotal discussions.”
Tops among considerations, Conley says, was the talent it takes to staff a projected 400-job service operation tasked with providing internal support in areas that include business intelligence, software engineering, legal, advanced graphics, research and administration. Ninety-nine percent of his team, Conley says, is Costa Rican.
Zach Cheney, who has helped place “countless” U.S. clients in Costa Rica as managing director for northern Latin America for the corporate real estate consulting firm JLL, says Costa Rica has developed an enviable reputation over the last three decades, a period during which scores of Fortune 500 companies have established thriving service centers in Central America’s most prosperous and peaceful enclave.
“Not only are they one of the predominant and most reputable players in the market, they pioneered the model where they offer a completely built-out solution. It’s such an attractive value proposition that others have started to copy it, so as not to be left behind by Ultrapark.”
— Zach Cheney, Managing Director for Northern Latin America, JLL
“In terms of workforce,” Cheney says, “it’s just a completely different ballgame in Costa Rica than other places in Latin America. Costa Rica has developed a workforce that can provide sophisticated shared services functions from finance to technical support to human resources and lots of other areas. It’s just a different level of service and resources. Bilingual people,” he says, “are everywhere.”
Great Ways to Get Up and Running
As meticulously as BCG had considered locations throughout Latin America, when the decision was made for Costa Rica, the company’s site selection team hit the ground hard in search of a real estate partner. Here, says Conley, BCG uncovered another natural fit, this time in Ultrapark Development Group.
“We visited multiple locations and met multiple landlords,” he says. “Ultrapark,” he remembers, “sent their entire leadership team. They made it very clear that their full attention was on supporting BCG.”
When Conley had to set up shop during the grips of the COVID-19 pandemic, he learned that the attention from Ultrapark management — far from concluding when he signed on the dotted line — was really just beginning.
“There were supply chain shortages for lots of technical equipment,” he recalls. “I called Ultrapark and said, ‘Hey, we need 150 laptops, what do you recommend?’ They got it done for us.”
Ultrapark, says Conley, stepped in repeatedly “to help us solve problems and really smooth our entrance into Costa Rica. They worked with us very closely,” he says, “so that one day we just showed up at the office and it was built ready to go.”
That “plug and play” approach is Ultrapark’s signature. Developed over the company’s 35 years, the vertically integrated model offers a suite of services that go far beyond custom design and construction to include such amenities as financing, technical support, telecommunications, cleaning, food, fitness and entertainment. “A one-stop shop” is how commercial director José Benavides describes it.
“They’ve been very smart about it,” says JLL’s Cheney. “Maybe it’s because of the size of their portfolio, but they are able to provide a very low barrier to entry. You come in, they’ll do the fit-out, they’ll get you going, and they won’t make you pay up front.
“Not only are they one of the predominant and most reputable players in the market,” says Cheney, “they pioneered the model where they offer a completely built-out solution. It’s such an attractive value proposition that others have started to copy it, so as not to be left behind by Ultrapark.”
Growth Is a Given
With high-end office space spanning more than 3 million sq. ft. (290,000 sq. m.), Ultrapark owns and operates four Free Zone office parks within the San José metro. A fifth is on the way. Between 2022 and 2023, as increasing numbers of service companies sought locations in U.S.-friendlier time zones, the group increased its roster of tenants by a full one-third.
The bigger part of the story, believes Cheney, is the growth that occurs within operations once they locate in Costa Rica.
“Almost every tenant or client that I work with that’s thinking about reshoring, they say they’re going to dip their toes in the water in Costa Rica and see what happens. Almost inevitably what happens is that it goes great. They find unbelievable resources, the operation is a success and it grows. It’s happened time and time again.”
BCG, says Conley, has secured an agreement to allow it to expand beyond the 50,000 sq. ft. it occupies at Ultrapark I. He has little doubt that BCG Costa Rica is on a growth track.
“It’s been a great match,” Conley says. “Costa Rica has exceeded our expectations. It would have been much harder without the support and leadership of Ultrapark. We will remain here as we grow.”
This Investment Profile was prepared under the auspices of Ultrapark Development Group. For more information, contact José Benavides, Commercial Director, at 506 6311 0877 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. On the web, go to www.ultrapark.com.