Although the logistics sector is picking up after a period of slowdown, volumes are lower than in previous years, and new ideas and systems will be crucial moving forward.

Dovi Eisenman

CEO, FCI Logistics

Our distribution network comprises a 10,000sqm warehouse, and we recently added 16,000sqm in DC-2, our newest distribution center. Our advanced warehouse management system (WMS) is used to manage customer inventory. FCI enjoys a mixed client base that stretches from Fortune 500 companies to local companies. A new, twice-a-week freight line bringing airfreight from Miami to Panama has maximized operations. However, FCI's core business area continues to be its founding purpose: customs brokerage. The company manages most of the customs brokerage from the free zone to Panama. Our challenges in the past years have been working on balancing the diversification of our logistics services with different types of products—distribution, freight forwarding, transportation, and customs clearance—aiming to grow industries and customers. Our ability to innovate and bring new ideas help us remain at the forefront of logistics. Our foremost goal is to grow through sustained efforts in all departments. We want to give back to Panama and provide better lives for our fellow Panamanians. Commerce in 2018 is not growing as much; hence, the company's strategy is to maintain the operational cost as low as possible with technology and building efficiency in our processes and personnel. Every crisis leads to opportunities, and we will try to set up structures that allow FCI to thrive in the years to come.

Rogelio Orillac

General Director, Isthmus Bureau of Shipping (ClassIBS)

ClassIBS is one of the largest recognized organizations in Panama, the number-one maritime registry in the world, and 80% of our business activities comes from Panama flag vessels. The other 20% of our activities are from other flag states that recognize ClassIBS, such as Belize, Honduras, and Jamaica, amongst others. We are members of International Association of Technical Survey and Classification Institutions (TSCI) and are recognized by China Maritime Safety Administration (MSA). In addition, we are approved under the Code of Federal Regulations part 2.45 of the US Coast Guard, and our accomplished goals show our commitment to quality and safety standards. ClassIBS, as an independent classification society is duly authorized by several maritime administrations to carry out statutory surveys on their behalf. Our main activity with Panama Flag State Administration is to conduct surveys and issue the corresponding certificates. It is a technical activity that specializes in the safety and security of vessels. We have been authorized by Panama Flag State since 1995, and we are the leaders amongst Panamanian organizations in both classified and certified number of vessels. In order to ensure the quality of the vessels and our performance, we maintain a low detention rate worldwide, assisting the Panama Flag State in keeping its white list status within all port state control MoUs.

Bradle Bingham

Country Manager, King Ocean Services

King Ocean Services is a family-owned business that started in Curaçao. Panama holds great importance for shipping companies in the region; it would be a grave mistake to run a shipping line in the Caribbean without operating in Panama. Although business in the free zone has declined in the recent past, Panama continues to maintain an optimal base for service and communication in the maritime business. For example, Panama holds the key for transshipment, as shipping lines, both big and small, pass from here. There is no one dominant commodity that we specialize in, though domestic electronics is one category that records healthy volumes. We export a variety of fruits, and to a certain extent beef, seafood, and chicken. Panama's numbers are not comparable to countries such as Costa Rica, though for a country with a population of 4 million, Panama has a vibrant economy. The company serves a diverse list of clients dominated by local Panamanian importers and exporters. Our client base mainly revolves around the Panama market and Panama City. Also, there is a cycle of customers in the industry; clients switch shippers when encountering a problem. The key in the Panamanian market is that every customer demands speed in order to cut down on storage costs.

Isaías García

District Manager, Expeditors

Expeditors has been operating for 39 years and has been in a great position in the global market. We are currently one of the top 20 global forwarders in the world, which is based on a strategy of information and service value add. We are in the top five from an ocean transportation perspective and in the top three from an air transport perspective. The company has evolved over the years, and our other competitors in the top 10 have more than 100 years' experience in the business. We have been in Panama for three years, and it is a different market from the other countries we have experience in, perhaps because of the economy around the Panama Canal. One of the main things we are currently working on is the development strategy of our warehousing and distribution, as the Panamanian market is not a big one. There is a market strategy to bring most of the Latin American imports from Asia to Panama and distribute them from here. We seek to enter that market; we are currently the number-one carrier in trans-Pacific trading from Asia to the west coast of the US and want to take advantage of that. We will also join the service for distribution to customers in South America and the Caribbean and Central America.

Vikash Deepak

CEO, Mercansa

Our company is one of the pioneers in the ship supply business in Panama. Our history goes back farther than 1988, when the company was founded. We are now more of a general ship supplier, providing basically anything a ship needs. For 30 years, we have gone through many phases and changes in the shipping industry from a more informal market to one that is more technologically advanced. Our biggest achievement has been to stay in parallel with technological advantages. And beyond parallel, to be ahead of the industry, adjusting our mainframe to better suit the market. We are keen on efficiency and technology to create value adding processes for our customers. Today, we are not only ship suppliers, but also a logistics provider as well. We are like a supermarket for ships. We are a retailer and supply all the necessities that a vessel needs. This being a moving industry, there are needs for the ship itself and a crew. Our objective is to try to cater to the industry as much as possible in order to keep the journey smooth. While provide technical items, and food, as well as clothing for the crew. We are indeed a supermarket for ongoing vessels. We have about 15 refrigerated trucks, warehouses with more than 3,000sqm, and more than 4,000sqm of cold storage facilities.