Pedro chose a Saturday and the little coastal town of Agua Amarga, in the Natural Park of Cabo de Gata (Almeria), for our appointment. He was born here almost 60 years ago and he still has a house here, which he will refurbish one day.
There is no room for muddle or improvisation in his life. He has everything organised down to the last millimetre, including the time for this interview.
He falls asleep in front of the TV, watching ‘El Hormiguero’, and he gets up every day, even Sundays, at 4 in the morning. He started studying Business Administration, but work got in the way of his desire to learn. He enrolled in the university again at the age of 37.
Whilst driving to this remotevillage, I think that when Africa broke away from the Iberian mainland a few square kilometres got left behind on this side of the Mediterranean. The landscape is identical on both coastlines.The weather is also the same, but on the day we chose it tricked us. It rained, the sea was rough and the wind blew in exhilarating gusts.
Ready to take a boat out, we decided to be cautious and Pedro could only cast his hook out into a sea that got rougher by the minute.
I’m not sure if it is just a feeling I have, but you look particularly happy and relaxed here, amongst your roots.
Ha, ha. The fact is that you know me professionally and I take my work very seriously. This meeting had to be different, or at least this is what you told me. In any event, being here always makes me calm and happy.
Yes, my idea was to take you out of your professional surroundings.By the way, what are your strongest memories of Agua Amarga?
I’ll tell you two, one linked to the land and another to the sea. When I was 6 or 7, I was fascinated by threshing with my mother or with my grandfather. Agua Amarga is a fishing village, but when I was little, the subsistence economy was a reality; therefore, we also lived off the land. I spent hours and hours on the threshing board, circling the threshing floor under the eagle eye of a grown-up. It was a great adventure that turned into hell at night due to the itchiness caused by the straw; although I did it all again the next day.
The other memory was of going fishing with my father. In Agua Amarga practically everyone fished and my family was the same. At home there was always a boat; of the old type, a wooden one. Fishing in a village on the coast was for many a way of life and for others a custom or entertainment that was passed down from father to child.
You seem to be a patient man to me, so I’m sure you were good at fishing. What type of fishing did you do?
Yes, I am a patient man. I used to do three types of fishing: the oldest method, ‘volantín’, consisting of a hand fishing rod with hook and bait dropped vertically from the boat. ‘Curri’ or trolling, with the vessel moving, using a hook baited with little fish to deceive the surface fish and, finally, ‘potera’ or jigging, to catch squid.
I’d like to tell you about another memory.
Oh, which one?
I must have been 10 or 11 years old and we were already living in Almeria. My father had a market stall and he left home at four or five o’clock in the morning. I was desperate to go with him, but I wasn’t allowed to.I was always awake when he left and I used to cry when the door closed because he hadn’t agreed to take me with him.
So you already were showing signs of joining the business when you were a kid
Yes, I was really drawn by the idea of being able to go with him and see the business.
I’ve been told that 2 years ago, when your mother died, you closed the company.
Yes, my mother has always been a reference point in my life and I closed it as a tribute to her. The death of your mother is no easier because you are older. It is always painful. I had a very special relationship with her and I still miss her today.
Do you regret not having finished your college degree?
It was a painful decision because I have always needed to learn. I can’t talk of regret, because the circumstances, the economic development that the province began to experience at that time, took over my choice of studying.
Is that why you went back to University at the age of 37?
Yes, I enrolled in the University again, but I felt out of place with kids of 18 or 20. So I left and started to teach myself. What I did was toread the books from the ‘ESO’ (secondary education) belonging to my wife, who is a secondary school teacher. I also collected weekly economy magazines and I became impatient to travel.
What do you mean?
I never sleep on planes and at that time I travelled a great deal; so I collected up magazines for my next trip. It was a way of making the most of the time.
How obsessed you are with time and you have everything timed down to the last second! I bet you are as punctual as a Swiss watch.
Of course. I don’t like either waiting or being waited for. Life has to be organised and we have the time that we have. When you have a reasonable-sized company, time is money.
You are so methodical that you know how many hours you have worked in your life. I know that one of the compliments that you have been given for the 35th anniversary that you liked best was ‘Signature Entrepreneur’.
Today, with an 8 hour day, I have worked as if I had already reached the age of 93. I was calculating it the other morning. One of the things that I have liked most, of everything that has been said about me was the expression by Juan Colomina, calling me “Signature Entrepreneur”.
Your colleagues have told me that you have an incredible memory and that you don’t need an agenda.
Well, more than incredible, I would say selective. I remember everything: yesterday’s prices, today’s prices, meetings, etc. I don’t need an agenda; I just need pen and paper to note down any new ideas that occur to me.
Our interview comes to an end and I have the feeling that I have shared a few hours with a cautious, discreet man, a person who is as impeccable in his manners as he is impenetrable in himself, because I know that he does good and doesn’t talk about it. A man in whom goodness is just another attribute of his intelligence.