The Business Year

Alfredo Castellanos

COLOMBIA - Transport

Come to Pass

General Manager, Pasar


Alfredo Castellanos Cruz is a founding member of Transpasar S.A.S., an important and successful Colombian logistics firm, and also holds the position of President of the Board in the Club de Ejecutivos de Bogotá. He has held important positions with the Pasar group in Ecuador and with Tranexven S.A. in Venezuela, and has broad experience in management of multimodal transport solutions, nationalization processes, and ports and Free Trade Zones. He studied management in the Universidad Externado de Colombia, and has completed studies in the Universidad de los Andes.

"We expect to reach over 5% of the market thanks to our hard-working sales force and by offering added value to our clients."

Where did your story in the logistics market begin?

I started as a delivery boy in one of Colombia’s main packaging and forwarding companies. This experience gave me the opportunity to discover the multi- dimensional nature of this industry. Within three years, I had been appointed Department Manager. Then following further professional experiences, I decided to go solo with Pasar, a company that first started operating without industry licenses, working basically on commission for other freight-forwarding companies in the sector. In 1978, we officially began as a customs agency, and over the past 35 years we have grown tremendously. For example, when we learnt that FedEx wanted to enter the Colombian market in 1993, we applied for the representation rights, and won. As a result, we represented FedEx in Colombia and Ecuador for 18 years. Only after that period, did it decide to have its own official business activity. TNT, a leading company in the industry in Europe and in certain part of Asia, and with activities in over 200 countries, is another example of our growth story, since it came to us based on our reputation, offering us its representative duties in the country, thereby adding to our prestige. That was in 2011, and since then we have invested large amounts of money into ensuring that we grab a secure a significant piece of the market. At the moment, we hold a 4.5% market share and expect to reach a 9% share within the next seven years.

What have been the company’s landmark achievements over these 35 years?

The main one has been to get to know, in detail, the Colombian market, as well as entering neighbouring markets such as Venezuela, Ecuador, and Panama. In this context, we have managed to consolidate our business activity and become a rather reputable international logistics and freight-forwarding company in Colombia. We have expanded the size of our operations to reach customs, storage facilities, fast packaging, and road transportation, and also within ports facilitating the transportation of goods to and from Bogotá, as well as express packaging, and air transport. Overall, I think we have become a provider of fully integrated logistics services domestically and in the region, with very good prospects for further growth on the international stage.

“We expect to reach over 5% of the market thanks to our hard-working sales force and by offering added value to our clients.”

Who are Pasar’s main clients?

We have a broad customer portfolio that includes corporate clients, manufacturers, industry-related companies, and clients from sectors including pharmaceuticals and commerce. We are also deeply involved in online commerce and the delivery of online purchased goods. This latter section enables us to better reach individual clients. According to the figures, in the corporate segment alone we have more than 4,000 clients, whereas in terms of individuals, this figure exceeds 10,000.

What is the current size of your operations?

If we assemble all of our operations—not only in Colombia, but other foreign markets—we are talking about business activity worth $16 million. Despite having an international presence in some markets, we also outsource activities in international packaging, as this provides us a wider geographical reach.

What regional markets offer the potential for Pasar to expand its activity?

Currently, we are holding talks with potential investors in Mexico, a country in which we are very interested to start operations. Our focus in Mexico, as well as in general terms, to expand our activity in the mailbox service and reach the entire Latin American region. Additionally, we want to further consolidate the other segments of our operations.

What challenges must the Colombian logistics industry overcome for further growth?

The main problem is related to infrastructure and infrastructure capacity at places like El Dorado airport, which make exports prohibitively expensive. For example, to transport a few containers from Bogotá to Cartagena is more expensive than taking them from Cartagena internationally.

How would you characterize competition in the Colombian logistics industry?

Competition is rather strong in our sector in Colombia. Despite the fact that we are not an active player in the domestic market, I can say that Servientrega is a leading actor. We compete in the international market from Colombia, and TNT has strong competition in that segment. Our strength is to be able to offer competitive advantages to our clients. For example, we have better transit times and more flexibility than many other players in the industry. We have the advantage of being an international company with domestic flexibility. However, we should keep in mind that we are a rather young player in the sector, having entered the market two years ago with TNT.

What is the relevance of the Alpasar Free Trade Zone (FTZ)?

Our storage and custom facilities are located at this FTZ in Bogotá. All the goods imported for our clients are stored there to undergo relevant checks before delivery.

What are the company’s main goals for 2014?

We expect to reach over 5% of the market thanks to our hard-working sales force and by offering added value to our clients. We have vast experience in working under pressure and in line with international standards. Additionally, TNT is also undergoing an international campaign to further improve its services, and I believe we will manage to continue growing in this demanding sector. In this context, I believe we will create considerable positive synergy with TNT to the benefit of both parties. We have to keep in mind that TNT is a rather young company in Colombia and we are heavily investing in brand recognition in the local market to ensure that we compete against other companies based on services, rather than tariffs.

© The Business Year – December 2013



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