Alexander Katsouris
Automotive Logistics Director of Europartners México
Europartners México
View from the Top

National Freight Forwarder Crosses the Pond

Sat, 09/01/2018 - 10:51

Q: What is Europartners’ vision regarding its development in Mexico, particularly in the automotive sector?
A: The automotive sector represents approximately 45 percent of our cargo. With the significant growth and foreign investment in automotive in Mexico, our forecast is that this industry will grow to become 60 percent of our business by 2020. We will continue to invest in new offices in 2018 in Mexico, the US and Latin America (specifically in Argentina, Brazil, Honduras, Nicaragua) in order to fulfill requirements related to automotive supply chains. Ten of our 15 offices in Mexico have sales and operations personnel with an automotive industry focus.  Similarly, many of our international branches in Germany, the US, Canada, Costa Rica and Colombia for example, relate to our automotive business and have had considerable growth through their collaboration with our Mexican operations. We expect more business through our current relationships with European OEMs and Tier 1s bringing further investment in various regions, as well as trade lanes from Asia thanks to the extensive automotive investment coming to the Bajio region in recent years.
Q: How can Europartners compete against international freight forwarders with experience in the automotive sector?
A: Our brand promise is based on three principles: to be fast, friendly and dedicated. We try to be the fastest company in the logistics sector, which the automotive industry values greatly. Delivering a quotation swiftly can help companies make faster decisions, which in turn helps the client keep its operations up and running. We also found that having Mexican roots is an excellent presentation letter for the company. Potential clients learn about our fast growth and our stability as a Mexican company and they open their door to us, no matter if they are Japanese, German or Mexican.
Q: As a freight forwarder with international operations, how do you choose your partners?
A: Our company offers two types of shipments: one more focused on regular supply chain operations and the other for time-critical emergency services. The latter is available 24/7 and we select our carrier partners according to our philosophy of fast responsiveness and availability. All our carriers must offer uninterrupted service and ideally should be knowledgeable regarding the market we are tackling and have a similar client base. We also look for C-TPAT and ISO-certified companies and members of WCA and the International Air Transport Association.
Q: What opportunity do you see to incorporate rail services into your portfolio?
A: Rail is definitely a developing trend in the automotive industry in Mexico thanks to the investment of both companies and the public sector. We see significant investment in terminals such as that in San Luis Potosi, which makes rail much more accessible to clients. That being said, as a company we favor the full-truckload model because we think it can offer better control of our operations with much more flexibility. If a client requires something urgently, it is not advisable to send the cargo by rail or it will be trapped and subject to scheduled stops in fixed terminals. Furthermore, although rail operations are growing, they still lack security and the service is still managed by few operators, thus restricting competition.
Q: What are the main demands of automotive clients to logistics providers?
A: Digitalization has been a key element in bridging the gap between clients and forwarders in recent years. The challenge we face as a company is on the one hand the clients’ demands for a more digitalized service, while on the other maintaining a personalized service and giving information first hand of what can often be complex and sensitive issues, especially when dealing with time-critical cargo. We understand that we cannot neglect the digital side of the business and we have invested thousands of dollars to modernize our operations and align to the needs of the market. However, our goal will always be to maintain a direct link with the customer so when a problem arises, they know they can count on us for a personal response with alternative solutions 24/7.