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Panama 2015 | TRANSPORT | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Luciana de Policani, General Manager of Giofepa, on the crane and storage business, maintaining safety standards, and the prospects of the canal expansion.

Luciana de Policani
BIOGRAPHY
Luciana de Policani has lived in Panama most of her life. She is an entrepreneur, lawyer, administrator, interpreter and politician. She spent a 10 year term at the World Health Organization in Washington DC and a four year term as Governor of the Province of Colon. Her son now serves as the Mayor of Colon.

The company was founded back in 2000, and after 15 years of activity how would you describe the evolution of the company?

We started in 2001 with 4 ha of property and one crane. We currently have six cranes and 20 employees. Most of our business is with private enterprises, around 95%. We work with shipping companies, construction companies, refrigeration, air-conditioning and storage companies here in Colon. We are the only established crane company in Colon. Of course, the European crisis has affected smaller companies such as ours more than our larger competitors. A lot of large companies and ports own their cranes, but there is a lot of work they cannot do. We are also involved in storage activities and some companies, such as Maersk, store empty containers in our yard. We also carry out transshipment. Although there are huge storage companies close to the ports, most of them do not store small quantities of empty containers, and for long periods of time, that is for 20-30 or 40-50 days, which we are happy to assist with at lower prices. We also help local transportation enterprises. We store their equipment over night, as well as vans. Our storage is secured by 24 hours surveillance.

What is your strategy to widen your share both in the crane and storage business?

We have a solid reputation in the local market and we have digitized our operations.

How do you apply the best standards in terms of safety?

We have not had an accident in 15 years. We believe in the maintenance of our equipment. This is a family enterprise, and our workers are treated as such; we take care of each other. Our operators are certified. Our riggers are certified. Our equipment receives constant maintenance. Technicians from the US have commended our crane maintenance. We believe in safety, and our labor laws require it. Our employees have a lot of advantages; they have full overtime coverage, education stipends, transportation, and meals incentives. If we have to work for over 24 hours continuously, we put the working teams in a nice hotel, so their resting periods are assured.

How will the canal expansion affect your business?

It depends on whether the ships will have a lay over, or if they will go right through the Canal. As I understand, the government is working to establish a large logistic hub covering land, rail, air and sea transportation. There will be an exchange of containers coming in and out. SMEs have raised concerns that they do not have the capacity to compete with larger enterprises. Many companies are procuring straight from China. This has implications for the Colon Free Trade Zone. We are expanding our yard storage to be able to provide services for the increase in empty containers. More ships mean more containers.

What are your goals for the end of 2015?

We hope to expand our storage capacity and attract investment. We are looking forward to the increase in construction work, where we hope to be able to offer crane services. We recently acquired a license for maritime auxiliary services to be able to provide more port services. We are looking forward to diversify into repairing containers. We will continue to prioritize our social responsibility commitments and aid with disaster management in our community, as well as continuing to sponsor local football leagues.