Yobel has become one of the leading South American companies offering outsourcing services in supply chain management. What factors have led to this success?
We are highly flexible and design all our infrastructure and service platforms based on our customers, and they leverage our technologies and operational know-how. We have implemented a world-class warehouse management system, and our executive staff are certified in Lean Six Sigma, which we are going to extend to the entire organization in 2015. Another relevant factor is that, as a subsidiary company of a Peruvian corporation, we have vast knowledge of the Latin American market. These factors are differentiators for us because most players in this industry are from Europe, the US, or Asia, or have partnerships with local companies, while we are proudly Latin American and operate our own branches.
Yobel offers services in supply chain management in 11 countries throughout the Americas. What role does the Dominican Republic play within your international portfolio?
The Dominican Republic today is our largest operation in the Caribbean, although Puerto Rico and Panama feature too. For 2015, the Dominican Republic will maintain a leadership role for Yobel in the Caribbean, but Panama is experiencing rapid growth, and I believe by 2016 it will have become the company leader. The Dominican Republic is strategic for us because we manage all our regional operations from here. In Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Panama the market is in continual growth. We don't have a sizable market share currently, but we are expecting this to change, and are confident of growth in the Dominican Republic. Today, we have notable demand from the pharmaceutical industry. We have implemented a strong quality system for that sector and have considerable experience with consumer goods, cosmetics, technology, and food and beverages; hence, business in the Dominican Republic is important, and there is a wide portfolio of services on offer. Our biggest market is the multinationals.
How does the regulatory environment in the Dominican Republic affect Yobel's performance and the logistics industry as a whole?
Our business operates within a supportive environment of political and economic stability; the country has a stable growth rate of over 5.5%, while inflation is within the acceptable range, and the currency is stable, although we face other challenges. I consider the labor law complicated, for example. There is a movement among the private sector to propose its amendment, which goes beyond our industry. The employee is currently over-protected under this law, giving a company little space for negotiation when it comes to a dispute. This is something that hinders the normal development of operations and is a sensitive issue among many sectors nowadays. This factor can be seen as favorable for our business since our customers may avoid those complexities by contracting our third-party logistics services.
How would you rate the quality of the infrastructure in the Dominican Republic?
It is adequate for the market in terms of warehousing and roads. Yet, any serious attempt to transform the Dominican Republic into a hub will demand more modern infrastructure and a regulatory law. For example, the Port of Caucedo being constructed in partnership with DP World is building some infrastructure for our business to establish logistics centers in the port.
What impact will the Panama Canal expansion have on the Dominican logistics industry?
The canal expansion will help us because it will increase the traffic of goods; however, it is a challenge, too. In the same way, we must ensure our regulatory environment, because Panama has many laws that assist companies not based in Panama. So, it is not only the expansion of the canal, it is also the integration of policy that must be checked. Yobel grows in Panama by approximately 30% yearly, which is a huge figure. In the Dominican Republic, we grow by 20%-25% annually, which presents an opportunity, although it is a challenge for the country to maintain its competitive advantage in the region.