E.T. Heinsen SAS celebrates its 90th anniversary in 2014. What do you consider the company's landmark achievement?
The main landmark has been the transfer of control within the family to the fourth generation. That alone is quite an achievement and something that is looked up to by the many companies that struggle to survive beyond the first generation of ownership. The strength of our company stems from our people, which today are a world away from the previous generation in technological terms.
What is your own experience of the Dominican Republic's 2014 economic performance?
From our perspective, we expect to be ready for the Canal expansion, as we have the Caucedo Port investing at least $200 million over the next four years, which will enable it to manage large vessels over 350 feet in length. Further good news is that the shipping sector is working on appropriate laws or decrees allowing us to become a more competitive market even than Panama or Colombia. The new laws will allow goods to enter the country in certain areas tax-free and be exported without incurring additional fees. Moreover, when you consider north/south business, the Dominican Republic is between Brazil and Argentina, and the US and Canada, which means considerable traffic going from north to south, which could easily stop here and distribute goods into Central America, by taking advantage of the transshipment port. And when considering Europe and the Dominican Republic, you see that the first port of call to any service between the two continents is the Dominican Republic, which is also an attractive proposition for transshipments.
The Dominican Association of Air and Maritime Shipping Agents (ADACAM) and the Shipping Association of the Dominican Republic (ANRD) are considering the formation of a transportation logistics cluster. Can you talk us through this idea?
We are exploring this idea closely, and have tasked an international expert to provide a thorough perspective of what a cluster should be, and which cluster we should try to become. The National Association of Consolidators and Freight Forwarders is interested, as is the government and, of course, ourselves. We hope to see the cluster up and running in 1H2015.
E.T. Heinsen, through sister company Transporte Impala, also provides inland transport services. What importance do you give to that part of the business?
The biggest problem in the Dominican Republic with regards to logistics is the monopoly on in-land transportation. We are not members of Fenatrado and can distribute in containers and chassis anywhere in the Dominican Republic. Soon, we will enter other markets, and are already building our strategy accordingly, and also undertaking local distribution between industries. Industries that engage heavily in distribution are trying to outsource their transportation, which is why we provide a truck and personnel exclusively for them, and they ultimately save money.
What are Heinsen's current development strategy and key objectives for 2015?
For 2015, we forecast generating at least 15% greater revenue than today. The primary goal is to keep costs low, increase productivity, and register better results. But each individual line of our business has its own goals. In the shipping and transportation sectors, we want to expand and post a better bottom-line. At the airports, we want additional representation from the US.
On the logistics side, we are keen to enter more into warehousing, which is important, as it is a totally new business line. Meanwhile, we are a major stakeholder in the Port of Rio Haina, and are not only upgrading operational software, but also expanding our capacity as a logistics operator. For example, grain coming from New Orleans to the Dominican Republic in huge bulk carriers is actually discharged in a well-mechanized system that bags and stores it in the warehouse, or directs it to containers, and from this port, we are distributing bagged grain worldwide.