Since 1975 TIBA International has provided specialised services in sea freight, airfreight, land transport, custom brokers, project cargo, logistics and warehousing, and to date has over 40 offices on four continents. KITE Invest met with the CEO of TIBA Mexico, Mr Justin Facey, to get the regional and country perspectives of this truly globetrotting company.
KITE Invest: Mexico’s GDP in 2015 is expected to grow at 2.7%; a figure that still falls short of the desired goal of 5%, sustained by economic growth over the next few years. It is predicted that in 2050, Mexico may be the 5th ranked economy in the world with a per capita income of USD $48,000, and as a result, the country needs to show its true potential now more than ever. Within the global economic context, and taking into account the current economic and political situation of Mexico, what is your outlook on next year’s growth?
Justin Facey: In recent years, Mexico has been projected in a positive manner despite not been able to reach certain goals. It is applaudable of Mexico is that its public relations and government policies have been designed in such a manner as to draw global attention. Unfortunately, in certain aspects, Mexico has not lived up to its own expectations, and the positive growth projections have had to be adjusted on a regular basis. This has an explanation; the reforms have been difficult. In my opinion, one of the main hurdles and falling blocks of the present government has been its insistence to collect more taxes from those that already pay, and to not go after the large informal economy. This greatly affects Mexico’s economy and discourages investment in ongoing projects. Nonetheless, Mexico still attracts investors.
KITE: What is your assessment of the international perception of Mexico’s brand?
JF: The Mexico brand at the economical level is very positive. It speaks highly of Mexico. From a tourist’s perspective though, the perception is not as positive. Mexico still has major security problems, especially in some regions. We know it is not in whole of Mexico, but at the end of the day, the perception from outside is that all of Mexico has security problems. This definitely affects foreign investment, or at least causes it to be questioned in terms of risk, specifically when it comes to upper management or directors relocating to Mexico. Overall though, when looking at the big picture, Mexico is a relatively safe country.
KITE: What impact do you think the reforms will have on attracting more investment?
JF: Reforms are nearly always a positive step as they show that there is a desire to change and to improve certain situations. Some of these reforms have fallen short of what is needed, and they have not been fully transparent. However I believe that in general the international community has welcomed the reforms with open arms.
KITE: With over 30 years of experience and over 100 offices strategically located worldwide, TIBA coordinates all forms of freight around the world by air, sea or land. What would you highlight as the major milestones in the history of TIBA Mexico and your evaluation of its recent track record in creating value for its shareholders?
JF: TIBA is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, and that in and of itself is a milestone for us. Originating as part of the ROMEU Group, which has it’s origins in the late 1800’s we have proven to our clients consistently our desire to help improve their logistics and foreign trade. TIBA has been in Mexico since 1997 – that is 18 years in the Mexican market – and was the first major step for TIBA outside of Europe. From day one in Mexico, our rate of growth has been fast and consistent. We have though been very careful to ensure that despite our rapid rate of growth, our principles of service and professionalism have always been maintained at the highest possible level.
KITE: What would you highlight as the main areas of expertise of TIBA Mexico?
JF: One distinction that TIBA Mexico has is its ability to compete with regards to customs service. We are one of the few freight forwarders in Mexico with a very high degree of customs specialization. This expertise allows us to serve our customers from door-to-door anywhere in the world. As a result, we can work alongside our customers, advising them and providing them with the foundations to import and export their products in the best way possible. In addition, with our verticals we are able to integrate customs services to the different specialised industrial sectors in Mexico.
KITE: What do you think are the competitive advantages and innovative measures that ensure TIBA Mexico’s the leading position within the logistics sector?
JF: The objective of TIBA Mexico is to provide service to all sectors in a professional manner and always respond accurately and thoroughly to the inquiries that we receive. The strategy of TIBA Mexico and TIBA all over the world has been to create vertical divisions of expertise. Today we have divisions specializing in perishables, project cargo, oil & gas, automotive, high tech, bulk liquids, wine & spirits, pharmaceuticals, and more. These verticals have given us the ability to meet the demands of the Mexican and other markets in which TIBA operates.
KITE: What are some of TIBA Mexico’s strategic alliances? What is the level of importance and benefits of these partnerships for your company?
JF: TIBA Mexico has always had very close relationships with the authorities and the various ports and airports thanks to our level of expertise in the field. ROMEU Group has given TIBA strength and respect. Today, thanks to our 18 years of presence in Mexico, with a high degree of respect towards our suppliers, clients and partners, we have positioned ourselves as one of the most well-respected freight forwarding companies in Mexico.
KITE: What efforts of TIBA Mexico would you highlight in terms of increasing the effectiveness and productivity of its value chain?
JF: Another distinction of TIBA is that we invest heavily in training, both internally and externally. By ensuring that our clients fully understand the logistics and customs in Mexico, we help them help us. Everyone benefits from professional knowledge. On a regular basis we invite our key customers to events such as that we had just recently with Eduardo Reyes, who is an important figure in the world of foreign trade in Mexico, to discuss future trends and legal updates. All this is at no additional charge to our clients.
KITE: What level of importance does TIBA management place on human capital?
JF: It is the number one asset of TIBA. We invest heavily in human capital and we value our employees greatly. Many of the individuals that work in the company have been with us from the beginning – that is from day one. Our employees are definitely our most important asset.
KITE: How important is the general level, the Holding level—since growth will be in Central America as much as South America in the coming years—and how does TIBA want to position itself within these markets?
JF: It is definitely an area of growth right now. TIBA Mexico is doing very well. TIBA in Central America is also working very well, and many of our customers have expressed a lot of interest in our network in these regions.
TIBA has been investing heavily in its development in Central America and the Caribbean for several years now, and we intend to cover the entire region within the next two years. Simultaneously, we are expanding in Latin America. But because Latin America is a much bigger market, it takes a more time and investment. We are already present in Argentina, Chile, and will soon be in Peru. From there, we will continue to expand into other markets.
KITE: The year 2015 is a historic year for Mexico’s economic relations with Britain. Thanks to Dual Year, it is expected that bilateral trade between Mexico and the United Kingdom will see 100% growth in exports and imports for both countries. What are the biggest opportunities you see in this new era between the two countries?
JF: Honestly, I am happy because I have always seen the Spanish, Germans and Italians (among others) come here and make large investments, taking the time to develop relations with Mexico. Britain I feel has always been a little behind. Not totally absent, but never on the front line. Therefore I celebrate this initiative as Mexico continues to be a very attractive market. The British and their products are most certainly well-respected in this part of the world, as they are in many others, but are perhaps not as well-known as those from Italy or Spain. The opportunity is there, but since it is starting from a relatively low level of prior engagement, there is a lot of work to do.
KITE: Do you think that the UK offers the best option for the Mexican market to diversify away from the US and to increase its market share in Europe?
JF: The UK has many great opportunities for Mexican exporters. No business can focus all their efforts on a single product, a single country, or a single objective, including Britain. It is important to diversify, and as such, the UK is a great market in which Mexican exporters can seek out new opportunities.
KITE: What last message would you like to send to the British audience about Mexico and your company?
JF: Mexico is a huge market, with a likewise potential. The British have never been afraid to venture out; they have always been world travellers, trading wherever they go. Mexico however has been overlooked by many, and I welcome this initiative of the British and Mexican authorities to promote new business opportunities. Being British myself, it makes me proud to see these developments, and through TIBA, I look forward to advising and assisting many Mexican and British businesses in creating new lines of business in our respective countries. I am certain that Mexico and TIBA can exceed many of your readers’ expectations.