Q&A with Mr. Andrés Echeverría B.
Tell us about Transpac in Mexico, when was the company established? Who are the owners of the company today and what is your main line of shipping business?
Transpac was established on July 14th, 1975, this year we will turn 42 years old. Transpac is a family owned business founded by Raul (my father) who is still active in the business.
We started as Ship Agents, Brokers and Charterers. For many years most part of our existence was focused on the Liner Agency business. Throughout the years we have represented first class carriers like Maersk Line, Stolt, CCNI, Ivaran Lines, Lykes Lines, CMA-CGM and WWL to name a few. Aside from the liner business we also attend tramp vessels, represent bulk / break-bulk carriers, tank container operators, but we have also done different types of business as we have represented Celebrity Cruises and also Lan Chile Airlines.
We have a special bond with the shipping lines because during the 80’s we owned and operated two Ro-Ro vessels in the Americas. This gave us the experience and the feeling the shipping lines need when partnering with a local agent.
Do you need a special license in Mexico to operate a ships agency? Who do you represent these days?
Fortunately, yes. It has to be processed with the Transportation and Communications Ministry. During the last 10 years Mexico has increased their number of ship agents, the same that has happened around the world with freight forwarders. Some of the newly registered ship agents do not have the experience, ethics or financial stability required to run this type of business. For that reason the authorities are now paying extra attention to Ship Agent’s requirements. For example the legal representative of the company needs must pass a written maritime operations and procedures exam directly at the Transportation and Communications Ministry offices.
We currently represent:
- NYK Container Services at the Mexican Gulf as port agents
- Gearbulk as General Agents
- CSAV Ro-Ro as General Agents
- Bulkhaul as General Agents
- Atlantic Ro-Ro Carriers as Operational Agents
- Newport Tank Containers as Operational Agents
How do you make sure that shipowners know about Transpac? Do you belong to any shipping organisations?
We visit several trade shows around the world presenting ourselves to the shipping lines. We have also been members of BIMCO (Baltic and International Maritime Council) since 1976. Most of the new business we get is normally because a contact in the industry has recommended us. We have built a good brand and our principals know we are an ethical working company. We have also proven our financial health with several audits from the lines, giving us the “green” label of approval.
It is easy for customers to get to know us because, as mentioned before, we have built a name and reputation for ourselves. Nonetheless we still have to be make sure that new business comes, so we have deployed an investment in internet search engine marketing so that we are shown prominently to potential customers who are in need of logistical help.
Aside from BIMCO we are also members of the Mexican Ship Agents Association (AMANAC), where we have been active members and members of our staff have been president two times and served as members of the board several times. Transpac is also involved with the Mexican Import and Export Association (ANIERM) where we receive feedback from and help the foreign trade community fulfill their needs. We regularly help with projects that competitors are afraid to get involved in.
If a customer has an inquiry that calls for inland transport in Mexico is that something that you can help with?
Of course we were one of the pioneer agencies to offer inland transportation to the shippers and consignees. We have a broad base of truck suppliers that support us with most cargo needs. We also have special agreements with the two railway companies, so we can offer a competitive solution to customers.
Mexico is a big country and has many ports, give us a brief overview of the main ports involved in foreign trade.
Well, do you have time? take a seat 🙂
Mexico’s strongest trade partner is the USA, which is a disadvantage for our maritime industry.
Our main commercial ports are Altamira, Veracruz, Manzanillo and Lazaro Cárdenas. These ports are mainly focused on container cargo, but they also move bulk and breakbulk cargo like steel products, forestry products and grain.
Veracruz is currently in an expansion phase where the first part, HPH new container terminal will be operational in 2018. Altamira has great land for expansion but nothing in the works. Manzanillo at this stage is trapped inside the city but trying to expand the commercial activities to the Cuyutlán Lagoon. Lazaro Cardenas has been growing steadily, during this month APM Terminals will inaugurate their terminal and for sure will take some cargo away from Manzanillo.
Last but not least Tuxpan, in the State of Veracruz has been a petroliferous port, but last year SSA opened a multipurpose terminal for bulk, cars and containers. It is the closest port to the main consumer area in the country, Mexico City, but it has no rail service. It will take some time before the shipping lines decide to call Tuxpan on a weekly basis, but Tuxpan will surely be a success in the long run.
Is Customs Clearance in Mexico difficult? Where is customs cleared if a project is to be shipped to an inland destination?
Yes Customs can be difficult, but not impossible. You have to be certain of the regulations for your import of export cargo and follow the rules, if not, of course you will be penalised and even have cargo confiscated. The time has passed in Mexico when you could solve obstacles by asking favors. Being close to the USA has helped our authorities learn how things need to be done.
Customs is normally cleared at the port, but depending on the inland destination you may be able to clear Customs at an inland city. As an example, plenty of cargo is moved from Manzanillo to Mexico City or Monterrey and cleared at the inland rail facility.
When did you start your career in shipping? What led you into shipping in the first place? Name a couple of the things that you like about shipping.
I was born a ship agent. 🙂 Since I was a kid I used to go to the office to do some clerical duties like photocopying and archiving. In 1993 I started working full time at Transpac, first on statistics, then IT, and then getting into the commercial side and customer service.
Now it is not only shipping, it is logistics, we have broaden our scope because doing only the ocean side of the business is not enough.
Currently we offer:
- Ship Agency general services
- Ocean Transportation
- Customs Brokerage
- Inland Transportation
- Cargo Supervision
- Mobile GPS Equipment and Tracking.
What makes shipping and logistics different is that you really don’t know what challenge will be on the other end of the line when you wake up to answer your mobile at 3am. Aside from giving great customer service and solutions, we have to offer the best possible cost to the principals and customers to remain competitive.