What have been Distracom's main achievements and challenges in the last few years?
In essence, our strategic objective continues to be generating added value for Colombian truck drivers through a portfolio of integral services adjusted to their needs on the road in terms of quality, service, price, and specialization. Over the last two years, we have added more than 40 new business units for a total of 210 service stations in 18 departments across the country. We continue to expand the coverage of our services, with nine truck centers that not only have service stations but also hotels, parking, restaurants, convenience stores, lubrication centers, laundries, and both banking and courier services. We firmly believe in the important work carried out by Colombian truck drivers, which is why we work every day to offer tailor-made services that make their work easier. Additionally, our lines of industrial marketing, lubricants, and vehicular natural gas presented growth of 15%, 28%, and 20%, respectively, with significant participation in the agricultural, mining, and construction sectors.
What is your comparative advantage, and what service sees the greatest demand in Colombia?
Our comparative advantage is undoubtedly the specialization of our portfolio for the Colombian truck drivers. From the location and design to the specifications and rates of our service centers, the focus is on convenience for our customers. The development of transport as an economic activity in Colombia is highly complex due to the varying conditions of infrastructure and security, as well as the demanding level of efficiency that it demands to be profitable. That is why we focus all our efforts on promoting the professionalization of the sector not only through a network of wide coverage and competitive prices, but also using an electronic platform to control the fleets allowing us to make decisions in real time regarding the supplies of all the units. This allows truck drivers to exhaustively monitor the most relevant variables of the operation, such as the performance in kilometers per gallon and tons per gallon, as well as the ratio of money per ton and kilometer transported. We are convinced that such professionalization is possible as long as the carriers can find safe, comfortable, and reliable places to supply all their needs and those of their vehicles on the road to continue on their way.
What expansion plans do you have in the pipeline?
The expansion of our network is one of the most important objectives in the coming years, because we want to ensure that those truck drivers that seek to professionalize their operation can find us in every corner of the country. Our goal is to construct and purchase at least 25 new business units in 2018, as well as continue to work on our existing ones around an increasingly complete portfolio of products and services for Colombian truck drivers.
How do you foresee the business developing in 2018?
2018 represents important challenges for the Colombian transportation sector in terms of competitiveness, due to excess supply and low freight margins. We assume this challenge as our own, since professionalization of the sector is the only way to generate the necessary operational efficiencies for our clients to maintain their profitability. Taking into account that fuel represents 34% of the operating costs of the industry, our fuel control platform is the main tool to ensure that the yields of each fleet unit are kept within optimum levels. In the same way, ensuring the proper rest, nutrition, and needs of drivers are met is essential for a safe and risk-free operation, which is why our truck centers are the best option.