The Business Year

Karsten H. Windeler

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC - Transport

ware it’s at

Chairman, Maritima Dominicana

Bio

Karsten H. Windeler was born in Germany and began his career in the maritime business with a traineeship at a ship agency company in Bremen, and was later certified as a ship agent/broker by the Chamber of Commerce in Bremen. In 1966 he was appointed Owner’s Representative of Continental Lines responsible for the Caribbean, Central America, and Venezuela with an office in Santo Domingo. In 1971 he founded Maritima Dominicano in the Dominican Republic and in 1973 founded Caribetrans, an international freight forwarder. He also co-founded Lineas Maritimas de Santo Domingo in 1975, operating up to seven bulk carriers in the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, and the north coast of South America.

TBY talks to Karsten H. Windeler, Chairman of the Board of Maritima Dominicana, on the company's beginnings, security, and outlooks for the shipping industry.

Can you tell us about the history of Maritima Dominicana?

I started Maritima Dominicana in March 1971 with the help of my brother-in-law, Gustavo Tavares. Then, in 1973, I founded another company called Caribetrans, which was involved in warehousing and air-freight forwarding. Caribetrans today has warehouses in every airport in the Dominican Republic, and also 10,000sqm of warehouses in the city. We also created a company called Terminales Haina, which has custom warehouses where consolidated cargo is taken from every port once it has cleared customs and is then delivered to the receivers. Then, we began a firm called Almatrans Logistics that operates fiscal warehouses and logistics centers, before forming an inland transportation company called Equipos y Transportes, which today owns more than 1,200 chassis and many trucks and other equipment to handle containers in the ports and off-dock facilities.

How are you involved in the Port Caucedo logistics terminal, and how is it affecting the wider landscape of transportation in the region?

If each company had its own warehouse with a large inventory, it would be quite expensive. Therefore, they outsource this to service providers such as Almatrans and Caribetrans, because we can bring in whatever they need each week and deliver it in time for manufacturing. This is what happens at the logistic centers. This is the essence of supply chain logistics where we handle ocean and airfreight transportation, custom clearance, and warehousing. We are also one of the first companies certified as an OEA or Authorized Economic Operator, which is where external auditors determine that our procedures are accurate and honest. We are also certified ISO 9001, ISO 14001, and OHSAS 18.001, not to mention by the World BASC Organization with respect to the security of all our activities. Every government entity, such as the port authority, customs, and security, wants to be sure that we as service providers in the ports and airports do this correctly and honestly.

What is the essential cargo that MarDom handles and where do you see future growth?

We believe the agricultural sector will be able to increase the volume of exports to the US and Europe. Around 20 years ago, we handled between 50 and 60 containers every week of pineapples bound for the US from Dole and Chiquita. Back then, these large fruit and vegetable suppliers had their own shipping companies, but many now outsource this to container shipping companies. This is also how we became the service provider for the entire banana export and handled three weekly fixed-day services of vessels to take them to Europe. We believe not only that the Dominican Republic will be able to increase production of fruits and vegetables for export around the world, but also that the production of manufactured goods in the free zones will continue to increase—especially given the new decree that simplifies these supply-chain logistics. This will make it easier to bring in the materials these manufacturers need to produce local products like clothing, shoes, and electrical equipment.

How do you see the shipping industry playing out over the next five years?

More large shipping companies are going to start consolidating, a trend that has already begun over the last two years. Many global carriers are now working closely together or are buying other companies in order to reduce internal costs of their operations and survive the economic crisis within the industry. We could also have other incidents like the insolvency of Hanjin, which has created a lot of uncertainty within the market. All of their ships were suddenly stopped, and the cargo onboard was not discharged at the port of destination until the port terminals could determine whether they were going to be paid for their services. Hence, there is some fear within the sector that other carriers might have to declare insolvency.

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