Semen Cardona is a benchmark company in the pig sector, commercializing about 4 million doses to about thirty countries on 4 continents. It also has international headquarters in the Philippines and Mexico, 19 artificial insemination centers, 5 central laboratories and 5 quarantines. In order to reach such a level, a long way must be traveled starting from zero. Semen Cardona was born 35 years ago, with a familiar DNA and facing various challenges and barriers. But it was born thanks to the enthusiasm, perseverance and tenacity of a young entrepreneur: Maria Àngels Rial.
Question: How did the story of Semen Cardona begin?
Answer: Well, it started more than 30 years ago, when I was very young. I got married and went to live in a country house, where I was supposed to work doing housework. However, I wanted to do something else and asked to work outside. It is not an idea that they liked too much, but we reached an agreement. If I had to work at home, I would do it to improve what was there.
Q. And what did you want to improve?
A. The quality of our pigs, because every time we went to the “slaughterhouse” we were penalized because they said they were of poor quality. I wanted to change that.
Q. Is that the reason behind the idea of insemination?
A. Yes. I had heard of that system, but it was not well known yet and there was not much information. I tried to learn it in Solsona, because there was a little business that was starting to work with that, but they didn’t want to help me. So, I decided to bite the bullet and, not without struggling, I went to Madrid. And there I achieved my training.
Q. Is this how Semen Cardona was born?
A. Thus the seed was planted. Upon returning, I convinced the family (not effortlessly) to set up a small laboratory and buy 4 stallions, counting with the investment that involved. And it cost a lot to boot. First, because of a plague that did not allow to sold semen in the Cardona area. And, secondly, there was distrust of something so new. In addition, presented by a young woman, it generated more reluctance.
Q. How did you overcome that barrier?
R. Well, with the keys to success: illusion, perseverance and tenacity. Insisting, making trips every day and being creative and ingenious. As nobody trusted, I ended up giving away doses to prove its worth. And I was fortunate that all the doses I tried, worked. And they worked very well, since all the sows were pregnant. From here, word spread and the company began to start. To such an extent that we decided to do it well and constitute Semen Cardona. It was decided to make cutting-edge and suitable facilities to keep growing.
Q. But it was not an easy road, right? R. Not at all. The fact of being the first to work industrially in this sector in Spain, involves the problem of misinformation. We did not know what permissions and approvals we needed and the city council did not really understand the issue either. With all this, we were three years in order to be able to create Semen Cardona as such because it was very difficult to move forward. But, given our sacrifice and commitment, it ended up getting.
Q. At the end, your business became a referring company
A. That’s right. The Generalitat put us as an example of an innovative and technological company, bringing us delegations from foreign countries of the pig sector, who were delighted and asked us for doses of our facilities. In this way, together with the growth of the sector, we began to export and grow.
Q. And what’s next?
A. Well, keep on working. This is a very sacrificed, but comforting business. Companies must diversify and we will not stop looking for new challenges to overcome, other forms of business that allow us to remain the national reference. Now, for example, we are studying the subject of biomedicine, very close to the pig sector. In addition, a generational change is approaching, where my son Jordi will take reins. Young people add value to the company and give it another approach that will allow Semen Cardona to keep growing.
Q. What would you tell someone who is starting in the business world?
A. That at the beginning everything can fail, but with will, willingness and without being overcome by the problems that you are finding, everything is possible. The word failure is a very ugly one and if something goes wrong, it can be redirected. Consciousness and dedication will allow you to reach a good place.