UPM: global business with local presence in Fray Bentos, my small and beautiful city

07/17/2018 11:33:13

When I was 10 years old, I heard about “pulp” and “cellulose” for the first time. I must admit that I did not understand what this meant, but everything appeared to be associated with those words in Fray Bentos, my home town. As I got older, I realized several experiences in my life, directly or indirectly, were related to the arrival of UPM’s pulp mill to the city.

Even though the mill started its operations in 2007, Fray Bentos began to change already in 2004. A wide range of services arrived to the city, like hotels, restaurants, laundries, machine shops maintenance, cinemas, etc. I even remember when supermarket and national stores chains opened their subsidiaries. Imagine those new places from a child’s perspective, I thought we were in Miami.

At that time, I was only 12 years old and not really aware of the development we were all experiencing. Nowadays, I feel fully proud when telling other people how the mill operates daily and how it supported the development of Fray Bentos. And I say “support” because that is exactly what I appreciate the most: UPM was just one of many other actors that strengthened the community, but the real leaders were always the local people, the ones who found new opportunities and did something different to aim higher.

I think there are several ways in which we are connected to the mill, not necessarily in a direct way. My mother, for instance, used to participate in the UPM Foundation educational projects, as she was a school teacher. My brother got a new job in a restaurant, after studying gastronomy, due to the high demand of services in the city. I started having new Chemistry, Mathematics and Physics teachers at high school, and now I realize that they were UPMers getting involved in the community. Even some new neighbors from other countries arrived to the city, with whom we still keep in touch. I could give many examples from everyday life and, as we can see, the benefits are not only direct jobs. In this kind of projects, there are limitless ways to seize an opportunity.

From my position in Stakeholder Relations in UPM Uruguay since 2015, I have always enjoyed the possibility of supporting the local community, of being part throughout educational projects, cultural or social events, or even of receiving visits to the mill. I am very proud of showing all what we have achieved together in the past ten years, especially when it is a group from Fray Bentos. 

A phrase used in our corporate presentation during the visits says: “UPM, global business with local presence”. Today, writing this blog from the headquarter in Finland, I realize it is not only a phrase, it is part of our culture. An international business can also be run and integrated within the local lifestyle. It is impossible to write this without feeling emotional about the long road we all have done in my small and beautiful city, Fray Bentos.