It was during a 9-year tenure at food giant Conagra Brands that Alejandro Castro became involved in a companywide initiative that would forever alter his approach to leadership and strategic thinking.
Born and raised in Mexico, Castro had begun his professional voyage at Price Waterhouse, where he launched a public accounting career from the accounting house’s Mexico City office. After ConAgra came knocking several years later, he accepted a position within its Mexico operations that eventually led to a promotion involving relocation to the U.S. and the firm’s Omaha headquarters.
Castro tells us that this move was pivotal, offering him exposure to the food giant’s global operations and strategic involvement at a high level that included participation on a board of directors in Asia. Still, Castro’s path took somewhat of an unexpected turn when Conagra’s CEO approached him to help spearhead an initiative designed in part to boost efficient decision-making across the company.Read More
In short, Conagra management had sanctioned the companywide adoption of the GE Work-Out methodology, and Castro was to be stationed along the implementation’s front lines.
Division presidents, unit leaders, and factory workers alike all now came to be spending face-to-face time with Castro so that everyone together could identify existing behaviors or practices that were undermining efficient decision-making.
Castro recalls: “We were able to fix issues that had existed within the company for years and years. We did this by connecting the people who really knew what was going on—the people who were close to the job—and this quickly made a big difference.”
Now, what might have appeared on paper to be but one career assignment among many suddenly began to accelerate Castro’s own understanding of business operations while further establishing his reputation across the company as a leader known for fostering collaboration and driving meaningful change.
Says Castro: “For me personally, it was the interaction with the people and talking about the different issues that really altered my whole view of the business.” –Jack Sweeney
Made Possible By
CFOTL: Tell us about Onx … what does this company do, and what are its offerings today?
Castro: Consider the home-building industry in the U.S., where houses have been built in the same way for decades and decades. We have seen new technologies for trying to build homes in different ways, but these just haven’t really been able to scale—and, in the meantime, there’s a huge deficit of more than 5 million single-family homes in the U.S. This need was what basically brought Onx to life. We build beautifully designed, high-quality, sustainable homes at the lowest industry cost in a very, very short period of time—less than 30 days.
Today, we are the fastest-growing technology-company home builder. We utilize a proprietary technology called X+ Construction that helps us to build better-quality, weather-impact-resistant, sustainable homes that are really fulfilling this big need in the industry.Read More
Our customers are getting not only a very, very beautiful, very well-designed home but also things that other builders normally provide only as upgrades. Such add-ons are part of our base product. For example, we automatically provide hurricane-impact-resistant windows in Florida. If anybody else is doing this, they’re doing it as an upgrade. We do it as part of our base product.
Because of the type of construction that we’re using and our technology, our homes are way more energy efficient than others. We are seeing our customers getting lower insurance costs and lower energy bills because of the way in which we are building the homes. We are putting in more insulation and using better materials, all of which has come together to make Onx the success that it is today. We were started in 2021 and have built more than 500 homes—mainly in Florida right now, but starting in Texas, too. These two states are the fastest-growing home markets in the U.S., and we have plans to continue to grow. Now that we have proven our concept that we can use our own technology to build high-quality homes quickly, it’s really about continuing to grow the business. jb