OUT TO MEET THE RISING TIDE

Costa Rica 2018 | TRANSPORT | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Juan Carlos Contreras, General Manager of Yobel, on meeting international regulation requirements, implementing a unique philosophy, and helping clients meet their professional targets.

Juan Carlos Contreras
BIOGRAPHY
Juan Carlos Contreras is the General Manager of Yobel in Costa Rica. With more than 15 years of experience in the logistics and supply chain industry, he has successfully held senior leadership roles in Costa Rica, Panama, and the Dominican Republic. An industrial engineer with a green belt certificate, he completed his master’s in logistics and supply chain management.

What conditions led Yobel to establish itself in Costa Rica?

With over 50 years of experience in logistics and supply chain management, we began our operations in Costa Rica in 2003 after considering the significant growth and development projections it presented with the second-largest GDP in Central America. We are currently capitalizing on our investments to gain more customers and serve other potential customers in the country. The capacity required is now higher, even compared to five years ago. In order to support that growth, we need additional capacity in housing and employees. In the past three years, we have achieved double-digit growth in sales; that is our plan for the next five years. Our current challenge is to increase revenue by 2022. We focus on strengthening our core processes and quality, and making sure we have the right people in key positions in order to achieve our targeted growth.

Which sectors do you typically work with?

It is somewhat diverse, though many of them are related to customer care and things like prepared foods and technology. One niche we now concentrate on is life sciences and medical devices, one of the most dynamic sectors in the country. We recently won contracts to manage all the distribution services for Johnson & Johnson, for example. For these particular sectors, we have to comply with FDA standards and perform specific tasks to be compliant with their strict requirements. We also have closed contracts with important multinational companies and were granted the distribution of all Mexichem products in Costa Rica for a five-year period.

How can the company set itself apart as a leading player in the market?

We work with a philosophy that is specific to Yobel SCM: speed, transparency, efficiency, and adaptability. Speed is what our clients need in terms of service. We must be transparent so that our clients see us as a reliable partner and more efficient than our competitors. We are not just a logistics provider; we are a reliable partner for clients and help them reach their commercial goals and targets. Another area we focus on is adaptability. We are flexible and can adapt to the operations, supply chains, and requests of clients. We must be flexible and adapt to the changes in local and regional markets. This is our competitive advantage.

What are your goals for the next five years?

Our main target is to achieve double-digit growth in each of the next five years. Our challenge is to continue achieving that growth across the different business units we have, including distribution, warehousing, manufacturing, consulting, and other areas. We also want to ensure that growth is sustainably achieved, namely that we have the right processes and quality in order to ensure that growth is well supported by our operational structure.

How do you see the logistics and e-commerce segments evolving in the medium term?

E-commerce is evolving in Costa Rica and around the world. The trend is for it to gain momentum and penetration every year. Costa Rica has a high internet penetration rate compared to its neighbors in Central America, and the average income of the Costa Rican population is relatively higher than its regional neighbors. Those are the key drivers of e-commerce. Costa Rica has all the capabilities and is thus the best-suited country for this growth regionally. In order to be prepared for that, a company needs to have all the solutions in place to support that growing customer base. Gaining expertise in doing last-mile deliveries to customers instead of merely to businesses is one of the steps that we are taking. It requires the flexibility of managing large volumes of customers and individuals with small and flexible requirements, as well as large businesses. Yobel has been cultivating this over time and is able to support that growth. We are doing all we can to ensure that when the time comes, Yobel is prepared to support the needs and demands of e-commerce customers.