SOLUTIONS

Panama 2017 | ENERGY | B2B

With a competitive and centrally located market, Panama offers the greatest opportunities in the region for these companies.

Daniel Chanis
DANIEL CHANIS
General Manager
BWSC
Elio Palacios
ELIO PALACIOS
General Manager
SVF

Why did the company decide to enter the Panamanian market?

Daniel Chanis About 12 years ago, BWSC was constructing, designing, and operating independent power plants in the country and was also an independent power producer (IPP). For example, BWSC built, designed, and operated the power plant for Pedregal, of which we still own 10%. We are a one-stop shop; we do EPCs and IPCs, we design, build, and operate power plants all over the world. Two years ago, the previous manager had a vision to open a branch in Panama. We operate power plants all over the world, but do not have a branch in any of those places. We find people, allocate the resources as per clients' needs, and take care of it from our headquarters. However, we saw an opportunity to open a branch in Panama, from which we could service Central and South America and the Caribbean.

Elio Palacios We see Panama as one of the best-kept secrets in the region on several levels. Panama has a great business environment. Many companies want to be in Panama just because of its geographical location and it is easy to do business here. This is a friendly country when it comes to investment and establishing an operation. If a company comes here with the right attitude, perspective, and legitimate goals, doors open and people are willing to cooperate. If a company comes to Panama to create and develop business sectors and markets and provide a good employee base for the country, the environment is supportive, especially the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. The SVF Group works to ensure we are more efficient in leveraging the benefits Panama offers. For example, we store parts and equipment in the Colón Free Trade Zone and do not require extensive infrastructure in Panama City for our operations.

Where you see the greatest potential to expand your operations?

Dc The greatest potential to expand our operations is in fact right here in Panama. With the new canal, waiting times will be a little longer than before. Even though there is an additional channel, the increase in transit will overcome the volume that the canal can handle and that waiting time will mean we can do more work on engines. Typically, ships and shipping companies do not want to waste time on getting work done. However, with greater waiting periods, they will be more open to getting that maintenance and engine work done. The greatest opportunities are here.

EP Definitely Panama and Costa Rica in the Central American region; Mexico also presents an important opportunity for the group and we continually monitor any updates to NAFTA since this may encourage Mexico to turn elsewhere for its business development and commercial allies. We will have to align our strategies to capitalize on any opportunities.

How do you shape your competitive advantage, maintaining a leading position in the local market?

DC We are a famous brand, with the highest reputation for quality. The Panama market is competitive, saturated with several large players; however, competition pushes a company to excellence, and without the competition a company might start to get sloppy in terms of quality. It is still a challenge to be competitive in terms of providing great quality, and that is the objective we have set for ourselves as a high-quality service company with competitive prices. Price is important too, but it is not the most important thing; it is more about delivery times and the quality of the product a client receives. If they get what they paid for, the company has done well. We send people all over the place, doing work all over the Americas, Venezuela, Peru, the Caribbean, and Mexico. We want to use Panama as a hub to expand out into the Americas region.

Will the recent expansion of the Panama Canal have a positive impact on SVF's operations given that the marine industry is at the core of your business?

EP It will have a positive impact because there is more commercial marine activity taking place in the sector. The canal expansion has opened up the opportunity for an additional port on the Pacific Coast. A new port would bring more logistics and commercial marine activities here and they will require additional equipment and support, which we continue to service with our marine brands, such as MTU and Scania. In terms of the operation of the canal itself, SVF supports around 140 engines and generator equipment in the canal today. We support the canal with all our different brands and equipment. Our technicians are certified because of the nature of the brands we represent and the Canal Authority requires this from suppliers for such support. The canal expansion has and will definitely continue to have an important impact on our business and in the region.