Can you give us an overview of the evolution of the company and its key milestones?
JUAN CARLOS CONTRERAS SEVERINO Yobel SCM is supply chain management company with 50 years of experience in logistics and supply chain. For Yobel SCM, 2014-2017 were the best years in the history of the company in Panama. During those years, we received an award for being one of the best performance companies in Latin America. In 2017, we had to work extremely hard because the situation in Panama was facing in a competitive market. However, we had some great years and created a solid business plan. In 2018, we focus on strengthening our core processes and quality and making sure we have the right people in key positions in order to be able to achieve the growth. Our main target is to achieve double-digit growth every year for the next five years. Our challenge is to continue achieving that growth across the different business units that we have, including distribution, warehousing, manufacturing, consulting, and other areas.
DEMOSTENES PÉREZ LSP was founded in 1995, and at the moment we have three distribution centers in Panama. We started running the DHL Express operation in 2004 and also act as the exclusive partner for DHL for all its warehousing and distribution businesses in the free trade zones of Panama. We have had a strong relationship with DHL for almost 20 years. Our main business is to act as a regional distribution center only for multinationals. We are a specialized company for value-added services on a large scale. Our biggest operation is for Payless Shoes; the entire business for Latin America passes through our main distribution center. Another important partner for us is HP; we started operations with it in February 2017 as a result of a strategic decision by HP to move its operations to Panama with LSP and DHL. We also handle the 3M different operations in Panama Pacifico.
You also manage Costa Rica from Panama. How are the operations there going?
JCCS We started operations in Costa Rica in 2003, considering the significant growth and development projections that it presented as a country within the region and leading the second-most important GDP in Central America. Costa Rica is one of the most dynamic economies pushing the development of the entire region to a higher level, which is why the corporation decided to start operations here to serve its customer base. There are some issues with the government and the problems it is facing. However, things are progressing and we plan to grow. We established a new partnership with LatAm Properties developing our distribution center with the highest standard level.
What new markets do you plan to expand to outside of Panama?
DP For our customers, Panama is not the main market; it represents only 10-12% of the business. Our customers use Panama as a hub, which means they go with anything outside of Panama with nontraditional free zones, such as Argentina and Uruguay. They are now part of the strategy of our customers because more customers are interested in Uruguay and Argentina markets. We have an operation in Uruguay, while Argentina is a challenge because of its customs regulations. Markets like Brazil and Mexico will likely not be in our customer's targets because they are large enough to handle themselves. We have started to speak with customers about the east coast of the US. After the Canal expansion and due to the traffic, we have seen growth, and the east coast is an opportunity.
What goals would you like to accomplish in 2018?
JCCS We want to grow our figures in transport sales. That is our main focus for the next two or three years. The expertise in doing last-mile deliveries to customers instead of only to businesses is one of the steps that we have been taking for the last 50 years.
DP We want to have our light assembly and light manufacturing line for high tech work; that is the next step for the Panama hub. We want to move from a classic distribution hub to the next value-added/fulfillment hub. This includes light manufacturing, which will be the next feature for Panama. We have the capabilities and customers have the need.