NODE BEARERS

Ecuador 2013 | TRANSPORT | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Armando Castellanos, General Manager of Servientrega,on the company's competitive advantages, its product portfolio, and expansion plans.

Armando Castellanos
BIOGRAPHY
Armando Castellanos has worked with Servientrega Ecuador since 1994, in the positions of National Logistics Manager, Administrative and Financial Manager, and now Executive Dynamizer. Before working with the company in Ecuador, he served as Manager for the Tolima Region for Servientrega Colombia from 1989-1994. He graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Economy from the Universidad Libre in Pereira, Colombia in 1988.

What were the core market factors that lead to the establishment of Servientrega in Ecuador?

In the mid-1990s, Ecuador was enjoying an economic boom. Since Servientraga is from neighboring Colombia, we thought it was the right moment to take the company abroad. Colombia and Ecuador are two very similar countries and we also had future regional plans in mind, this being the first step. Additionally, the market research we conducted showed that companies operating in the logistics sector in Ecuador at that time did not properly meet the needs of the market. There were two key points in the industry—high-quality services and technology—that the Ecuadorean market lacked. Our slogan today is “Servientrega: Solutions Center: A Center For Solutions," since we provide our customers with integrated solutions to make their activity more efficient and qualitative. Servientrega is a logistics company that over the years has achieved great levels of success in Ecuador. Today, we are part of many different industries and processes; we work backstage in election processes, and we provide essential services for the key social and daily economic processes of Ecuador's life. This is Servientrega today, and despite the fact that our brand does not always show off, we are always present and ready to help out people and companies.

What are the competitive advantages of Servientrega?

We always work to a five-year business plan, and at the beginning of each year we develop the main strategy to implement. Thanks to our activity, experience, and expertise in Colombia, we have always been able to import know-how into Ecuador. At the same time, our business model is based on the standardization of the brand and has always been an innovative one. Also, we have developed and implemented our own information system, which has a clear focus on Latin culture. I would like to stress that one of our main assets and competitive advantages is our human capital, which thanks to their qualities and our extensive branch network puts us in a better position than our competitors.

How was 2012 for the company?

Despite the slight economic deceleration, we managed to achieve positive results, consolidating our brand in the market. Trust is a key word in our industry, and only through trust in a brand can one grow their business activity. Servientrega has achieved more in this area as the years go by. A good example of this is the size of our operations in the country; we directly employ 1,243 people and approximately 2,500 indirectly.

“ Thanks to our activity, experience, and expertise in Colombia, we have always been able to import know-how into Ecuador. "

What role does Ecuador play in Servientrega's global operations?

In terms of volume of operations and turnover, Ecuador is the second most important country for Servientrega after Colombia, a country that is twice the size of Ecuador. For example, we expect $30 million in turnover for 2013.

How has your product and service portfolio evolved over the years?

There are two segments where our company has gained a very consolidated position: corporate mailing and packaging (including all types of administrative and logistics services), and premium cargo (medium cargo transport delivered across the country rather than to one single point). We also have mass delivery, where we can include items such as newspapers and other publications, and we have a significant market share in this segment. Apart from that, we have home-to-home packaging delivery, online order delivery, and regional and international delivery, a segment in which we have a competitive advantage due to our presence in several regional countries and the wide range of agreements with our international counterparts. For example, we manage import and export transportation, with Miami being one of our main markets. One of our main products is transportation of goods to and from Miami. Within these segments, we have many different products linked to time and countries of delivery. Our large branch network enables us to reach a wider range of people and niche markets than our competitors.

What are the company's expansions plans at the local and regional level?

Servientrega operates in Colombia, Ecuador, and six more countries. Currently, the company does not have plans to enter new markets. Our priority is to further consolidate the brand in these countries and create more efficient synergies between these countries. Also, starting from 2013, the company is implementing a new five-year strategic plan, in which sustainability is the key element. Regarding the local market, we are entering a new business segment: goods storage. Until 2012, we basically focused on transportation and delivery; however, starting from 2013, we decided to explore this segment, linked mainly to clients that also need transportation and goods and packages distribution. In this regard, we have already signed a contract with a Chinese company operating in Ecuador, and we hope this to be the first step of a very successful venture. Additionally, we also have plans to enter the hazardous materials transportation segment, a small market in Ecuador, in which there is not much competition. I think we could enter this sector by 2014, especially on the main national route from Guayaquil to Quito and vice versa. Finally, we need to continue strengthening our marketing channels and make sure our clients are 100% satisfied with our brand and services, which would help us to reach new clients. For example, our information system enables us to keep a constant eye on the inventories in our offices and those of our clients. We know of the importance for our clients to have their inventories updated with the required products, which underpins the satisfaction of their own clients. Nestlé, Colgate, Unilever, and Cerveceria Nacional, among others, are clients that use our services.