THE RIGHT INTERPLAY

Costa Rica 2019 | TRANSPORT | INTERVIEW

The private and public sectors each adhere to specific, and separate, rolls in guiding the infrastructural development of the country.

Luis Guillermo Ramirez
BIOGRAPHY
Luis Guillermo Ramirez is a chemical engineer with more than 20 years of experience in supply chain. He has been the CEO of Tical Centroamerica for over 10 years. He holds a master’s in international logistic science in Georgia Institute of Technology.

What is the state of the logistics sector, and how will it be impacted by the new container terminal?

The logistics sector is in a process of transformation, as we have lacked the infrastructure that would permit industrial and commercial segments to grow for many years. As such, the new container terminal should provide some of these required capabilities. We still lack the proper road and transportation infrastructure to connect the port with the major cities of the country, but the current administration has certainly given us the impression that a great many new opportunities will come about in the coming years. Should it invest in infrastructure, it would allow for continuous foreign investment, and boost our regional competitiveness.

What is the private sector's role in infrastructure development?

The private sector and government should not be intertwined. The former should lay out the requirements of industry and commerce regarding the inflow and outflow of goods to the country. The government's responsibility is to set an agenda, allocate funds, and execute the investment.

What potential role can Costa Rica play in regional trade dynamics?

Let's consider this from the standpoint of being in the isthmus of Central America and being in proximity to both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. There are numerous projects that could be implemented, in which we could be highly competitive. We, as entrepreneurs and representatives of the private sector, must understand that each country has a history. Because of our established democracy, the passage of law takes a little longer than in other countries. Expectations therefore must be managed. Certain new projects over the past five years, such as the airport modernization or opening of the APM terminals, have contributed to our competitiveness, though arriving rather late in the game. The requirements of national growth are inevitably faster than infrastructure developments can keep pace with.

Which project of urgent need represents a good opportunity for a PPP?

We need to introduce a rail service for cargo and connect our ports to the central valley. In order of priority, this is probably easier and more advantageous than transporting containers by road.

What is Tical's market share and brand perception?

Stakeholders see us as a rapid innovator that is swift to anticipate consumer demand and a leading proponent of new technologies. We have grown out of Costa Rica and into the region. We are a company with an established market share in a dynamic sector. This means we understand the dynamics of supply chain and commerce, as well as all players and market variables. We are competitive, flexible, and innovative, and have leaned heavily on our brand equity. Tical has grown from being a player in a specific segment into an integrator of services and an enabler of commerce and industry far beyond traditional logistics warehousing. We have invested in the effective communication of our transformation on a global basis.

What do you have over a major global logistics player?

Being a regional player means that we focus strongly on the dynamics of our business in each country. We have a competitive advantage in understanding how these dynamics work and how we can transform ourselves faster and more effectively to meet customer demands. We have also become a partner of these companies and helped them better enact their strategies. Other competitors that are not based in Central America are more focused on a standardized approach to the developed world, whereas the type of opportunities and challenges presented to local companies in emerging markets tend to be better understood by local players.

What solutions have you implemented in your operations that make you stand out to potential clients?

The supply chain operates dynamically, and the flow of goods is constant. What we do is analyze the differentials in the chain. We want to be able to effectively control the inputs, process, and outputs. We define this as an interplay of processes, people, and technology. These three factors are our focus in terms of tapping into the supply chain. Because of the dynamics of the business, these processes require constant revision and the ability to adapt to the changing dynamics of market players.