APWA delegation attends 2003 Mexican Public Works Conference in Tijuana, Mexico

Bob Kass
Public Works Director
City of Campbell, California
Member, APWA International Affairs Committee

Representatives of APWA's International Affairs Committee, members of the APWA/Mexican Municipalities Association (AMMAC) Task Force, and members of the San Diego-Imperial Counties Chapter joined President Marty Manning at the 10th Annual Association of Mexican Municipalities National Public Works and Services Conference, which was held in Tijuana, Mexico, May 14-16, 2003. The annual gathering of Mexican public works professionals and elected officials was scheduled this year to coincide with the Mexican Construction Chamber's International Congress and Exposition, which received special international exposition certification from the U.S. Department of Commerce through the support of APWA's San Diego-Imperial Counties Chapter and the International Affairs Committee.

President Marty Manning took part in the opening ceremonies, along with the Mayor of Tijuana, Jesus Gonzalez Reyes, AMMAC Executive Director Oscar Vega Mar¡n, and other dignitaries.

Several of the members of the APWA delegation made technical presentations at the AMMAC conference. APWA/AMMAC Task Force member Jos‚ Gamboa from the City of Santa Cruz, California presented a session on financing, administration and privatization of solid waste collection services. Julio Fuentes, an IAC Member and the APWA/AMMAC Task Force Chair, made a presentation on traffic engineering in the City of San Diego, where he is a Senior Traffic Engineer. Edgar Perez with Parsons Engineering in San Diego spoke on transportation planning, with perspectives ranging from Bogota, Colombia; Curitiba, Brazil; and San Diego. One of the most engaging presentations featured a trio from the Hillsborough County, Florida Department of Public Works—Bernardo Garcia, Eduardo Tapia and Ken Herd—speaking about the design and implementation of Hillsborough County's new desalinization plant.

Bill Clevenger and Raul Garcia, members of the San Diego-Imperial Counties Chapter, staffed a booth at the exposition hall which highlighted the expertise of their firm, Geocon, a west-coast geotechnical engineering company.

Former APWA President and current International Affairs Committee Chair Jerry Fay also was in attendance at the AMMAC conference.

During the conference, the APWA/AMMAC Task Force members met with Zeferino Sanchez, the AMMAC liaison, to review the Task Force work plan for next year, as well as make plans for the upcoming San Diego Congress in August. Among the topics discussed were selection of APWA publications for translation into Spanish, the possibility of sponsorship for translated materials, and marketing the upcoming San Diego Congress to other Spanish speaking countries.

The successful relationship between Mexican and North American public works professionals fostered through the efforts of the APWA/AMMAC Task Force continues to evolve. Any APWA members interested in participating in this, or other international affairs, should contact Julio Fuentes, APWA/AMMAC Task Force Chair, at, or stop by the APWA/AMMAC Task Force meeting or the IAC Meeting at the San Diego Congress.

Bob Kass can be reached at (408) 866-2150 or at

Editor's Note: At the 2003 APWA Congress in San Diego, simultaneous interpretation in Spanish will be provided for all four General Sessions, along with 13 educational sessions. To see a list of educational sessions that will be translated, go to AMMAC will be conducting an educational session entitled "A New Airport for Mexico City" which will be presented in Spanish and translated into English.


Key things to know when doing business in other countries
Do you want to enhance your chances of business success when visiting with others from other countries or cultures? Following is a sampling of some things to keep in mind:

Canada — Consensus-building is important. All participants in a meeting will likely express their opinions, and agreement will not usually be forced.

China — Use black and white materials in your presentations. Colors may have special or negative meanings.

India — Much business in India is family oriented. The final decision will always be made by the head of the family.

Japan — Age is important. Give special attention to your older Japanese counterparts. Age equals rank in Japanese business culture.

Mexico — Excellent visuals are important in your presentations. Likewise, the appearance of letters, memos, and reports is very important.

Russia — Have a good supply of business cards available. It will be beneficial if your business cards are translated into Russian on the reverse side.

South Korea — Business cards should be kept in immaculate condition. Writing on a business card may be seen as a sign of disrespect.

Taiwan — Just as in Russia, business cards are very important. You will be considered rude if you arrive at a meeting without cards to distribute.

Cultural Proverbs:

"All things good to know are difficult to learn." — Greek Proverb

"Don't speak unless you can improve on the silence." — Spanish Proverb

"He who would rule must hear and be deaf, see and be blind." — German Proverb

"One should be as careful in choosing one's pleasures as in avoiding calamities." — Chinese Proverb

"There wouldn't be such a thing as counterfeit gold if there were no real gold somewhere." — Sufi Proverb