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Colombia 2017 | TRANSPORT | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Juan Camilo Samacá, President of Almaviva, on optimizing the logistics network, improving the exports process, and the importance of investment in infrastructure.

Juan Camilo Samacá
BIOGRAPHY
Juan Camilo Samacá has been the President of Almaviva since January 2016. He has worked at Mondelez, Votorantim, SABMiller, and Unilever, where he has held different positions within the supply chain area and has managed operations in Latin America as well as holding regional Latin American and global positions. He holds a degree in industrial engineering as well as computer science engineering from Universidad de Los Andes in Bogotá and a post-graduate degree in logistics management from the Universidad Sergio Arboleda in Bogotá.

How did Almaviva perform in 1H2017?

The results from 2016 exceeded our targets and we have made an important change to how the company was operating as well as improving our customer approach though a centralized customer service unit. So far in 2017, the economy has had a slow start and GDP growth up to April was at 0.6%. With all of the new economic laws and taxes there has been a great deal of uncertainty, which has had an effect on local consumption and different industries such as beverages, automotive, and high tech. We optimize different economic conditions and give our customers the most optimal logistics network model to ensure that they are on the market in the best way possible. This is where an integrated logistics company such as Almaviva, with 78 years of experience, has many benefits for our customers. For example, we operate customs, international transportation, transport from ports to cities, warehousing, and distribution, which are basically the movement of goods. As always, when the economy is in this manner then all companies try to optimize every area of their companies and logistics is becoming more and more important in Colombia with the conditions we are living in currently.

How is the logistics sector in performing in this environment of slow growth?

In the logistics sector, we manage to understand how the economy is performing. We see an impact on the performance of the different companies that are our clients and our role there is to work with our clients to try to understand how we can optimize the logistics network as fast as possible. The big opportunity for us is to try to capture different logistics services; I have seven logistics services and may have a customer with only three so I try to give the customer a discount in one of the existing services and try to get two or three more additional services offered to the client as an integrated logistics offer though synergies based on our strong and largest pool of assets. This will improve the customers' actual costs and bring more efficiency and this is our current goal. The role of the logistics companies such as us is exactly this when the economy is good or when it is bad. When everything is running high and economic perspectives are good, there are opportunities to have projects and invest in doing things differently, while right now companies are not willing to invest in technology or services that require additional costs; this is where we have to try and balance the process of making a logistics offer to our customers.

What trends are you noticing regarding Colombian companies expanding their international presence?

There is a great opportunity in Colombia to improve the exportation process. We are typically managing the same stuff that we manage all the time, such as flowers, coffee, and bananas. Colombia is focused on specific products that it has focused on in the past. There are interesting opportunities, and what have been happening in the country in terms of the peace process and people going back to the fields and countryside to work at their farms will allow us to improve the process with a more technical farming techniques, which would allow us to boost exports and increase the volume and variety of goods being produced. The investment that the country is making in the logistics network and roads is important, as it is one of the most difficult aspects here as the country is divided by three big mountains. This makes it difficult to develop roads; there has been a lack of evolution in this area over the past years. There is investment being made and as we are in the process of going back to agriculture, this will allow us to have production that allows us to increase exports from the country.