South America has been badly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, but in Colombia a. hartrodt is gearing up for growth in the face of slow relief. The ten-year anniversary of the Colombian subsidiary at the beginning of March marked an important milestone. After the long lockdown, the 14 employees near the capital's El Dorado International Airport are now looking ahead. "By the end of the year, we want to hire up to four sales experts and open an additional sales office," says Adriana Villamil, Managing Director at a. hartrodt Colombia in Bogotá.
Export business growing for three years
In Colombia, a. hartrodt has been established on the market for 35 years, initially via a local partner freight forwarder. In 2011, the company launched its own national company with a focus on sea and air freight. "Because Colombia has a significant trade deficit, our office handled 80 percent import business," explains Villamil. But for the past three years, the percentage of export business has been growing – and that is where the "commercial focus" lies.
Tradelane expansion: Europe, China and Latin America
The growth plans include "increasing our participation in tradelanes such as Europe, China, Latin America," explains Villamil. Currently, a. hartrodt Colombia manages sea and air freight mainly from Europe, but also from the USA, China and Latin America. This includes German medical equipment, construction material, machinery, Belgian beer or Chilean wine. "With partners, we also offer customs clearance, land transport and warehousing," says the manager. As an important lever for the expansion of export business for customers, she mentions a. hartrodt's worldwide network as well as international memberships such as with the Business Alliance for Secure Commerce (BASC).
Capacity bottlenecks, however, make the freight forwarding business difficult: "In many origin ports, cargo currently waits up to 20 days before it is shipped to Colombia," Villamil cites as an example. Her team in Bogotá works closely with customers and suppliers "to proactively respond to any change in the market."