Can you tell us a bit about your operations in Panama?
WALTER M. LAFFITTE We are the largest logistics company in Panama, dedicated to providing to the best moving experience. In order to do that we have employee training and ISO 9000 certification. We are the only ISO-certified moving company in Panama. In addition, we are certified by the World Customs Organization's Authorized Economic Operator program and are the first international moving company in Latin America to be have that distinction. AEO is working with all customs authorities worldwide to standardize processes. Especially for ourselves, entering homes and handling personal and valuable possessions, it is important that we check everything that we pack. Equally important is that our agents worldwide have the same standards and security measures that we put in place. Additionally, we are certified by the Business Alliance for Secure Commerce (BASC), and we are the only moving company in Panama with this certification. It is given by the BASC local chapter, along with the US Homeland Security, for companies trading with the US. We are audited for these certifications once a year, with every employee undergoing a background check.
CAP. CARLOS GARCÍA J. We have been operating three companies in the Bay of Manzanillo. To improve the quality of service, maritime traffic, and navigation operations, we created the company Panamá Pilots Services in 1995. We offer the navigation service to the port of Manzanillo, the Evergreen, the cruise terminal Colón 2000, and bunkering companies. We have dedicated ourselves to provide a safe, efficient service that complies with current national standards. We have acquired two pilot portable units (PPU), which are two tablets that let us verify the positions of the buoys and the maneuvering area. We have a monitoring center. We have faster boats and the communications system is better. That helps us improve the technological part of the company. In fact, we work with new technology for the accounting system as well. We also have the ISO quality system.
What kind of difference does your company bring to the market for maritime services?
WML Multinational companies today focus heavily on security and high standards of service. We belong to many moving associations such as the Overseas Moving Network International (OMNI), based in London. This is a small organization of about 120 moving companies that are the best in each country where they are based. I sit on the board of directors of OMNI. We can check our whole supply chain through this association.
CGJ We have dedicated ourselves to providing a safe, efficient service that complies with current national standards. We have positioned ourselves in the bay by creating a group at the same level of the Panama Canal and first world countries and certification of all practice processes. We have our own boats working 24 hours a day, as well as four shift workers and a radio operator. In this way, with economic rates we provide a service complying with all national and international standards. This has been the basis of the success of the company.
What prospects do you see in Panama in comparison to the wider region?
WML In the mobility industry, we go through seasons, high and low, which are normally based on school scheduling. Latin America has grown since 2000. In the past, this movement saw US companies coming to Latin America, with expatriates coming for work. Nowadays, it is not North to South, but rather intra-Latin American businesses.
CGJ A full 90% of the cargo that comes to the Manzanillo port goes outside of Panama, and only 10% remains here as we are a country of only 4 million people. The basis of our success is that we are competitive and maintain excellent coordination between the pilots in the bay and basin. This success came from the security and the efficiency of service, in combination with the terminals that are part of the bay of Manzanillo. Our traffic rules prioritize passenger and transiting ships.