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Pioneering bus service provider drives closer cross-border links

Interview - December 2, 2013
With more than 80 years of experience, Grupo Senda carries some 57 million passengers throughout Mexico and the U.S. each year on its comfortable and very modern fleet
One of Mexico’s leading providers of passenger road transportation services, Grupo Senda’s modern fleet of 750 buses operate regular departures on more than 250 routes and reach more than 1,000 destinations across northeastern and central Mexico, as well as 25 destinations in the U.S. It also provides contracted intra-city services to transport personnel and students to industrial and educational facilities with a fleet of more than 1,600 buses. José Manuel Contreras Lomeli, CEO of Grupo Senda, discusses the sector and his company’s class-leading services.
Mexico is continuing to move up the rankings of investors in the U.S. How do you think the two countries can capitalize on the momentum of these good bilateral relations?

Mexico and the U.S. have been strategic partners with bilateral relations for a long time. For several years I think these relationships did not progress much; they simply reached a certain level and some taboo subjects they did not want to touch were left – for example the issue of freight transportation, which had a number of complicated issues and people were unwilling to address.
Gradually many of these issues are being eliminated and borders are opening up, strengthening ties further. This will force us as companies to be much more competitive, seeking excellence in everything we do, enhancing productivity through investment in technology, with greater investment in people and in processes.
Regarding Grupo Senda, despite being a private company, we behave as if we were a public company. Precisely, we are working on investing in logistics systems, IT systems, and financial information management systems – as well as in people – and we are investing in all these processes to be much more efficient.
We can overcome the various challenges that the market and the economy have seen in recent years, and despite all these adversities we have come out with much better results precisely because we have managed to work on these improvements. If we have been able to do it, other companies can do so as well if they focus on investing and working on processes.
Faced with a much more open economy, people fear increased competition. They worry about the influx of products and services in both directions. We see that as an opportunity rather than a disadvantage. 
Grupo Senda is the only company in Mexico that provides intercity transportation services within Mexico, the U.S. and across the border. How important is the U.S. market in its strategy?

Today unfortunately it still has a relatively small impact on our sales, accounting for 14% of the total. In the ‘cross-border’ segment, as we call it, we were in fact the first company to provide this service and are today still the only one who does this service that lets you travel from Mexico to the United States and within the U.S.
“I can proudly say that we are the most experienced and most recognized road transportation company in the north of Mexico”

José Manuel Contreras Lomeli
CEO of Grupo Senda

The reason is because we are an American company and we meet all the safety standards set by the Department of Transportation (DoT). We comply with all the safety standards in both Mexico and the U.S., our units are of a higher quality and we have the whole issue of safety of our operators covered. We have a Senda trucking school where we certify our own operators, and this school is certified to ISO 9000 and by the Ministry of Education. In addition, all our vehicles are fully insured, which is one of the requirements to travel abroad.
Today we carry out more than 2.5 million journeys annually in 12 Mexican states and in eight states in the U.S. We travel more than 170 million kilometers every year – this distance is equivalent to more than a journey from Earth to the Moon daily. We transport more than 79 million people a year in our fleet of more than 2,300 units in our two business segments – passenger transport and personnel transport – and all of this is achieved thanks to the active contribution of more than 7,000 employees. I can proudly say that we are the most experienced and most recognized road transportation company in the north of Mexico. Plus we have the determination to keep on growing. 
Why should people travel by land in Mexico, rather than fly, and why should they choose Grupo Senda? Also, what makes Nuevo León a must-see destination? 

Why come to Mexico and travel overland? Because it is the best way to see Mexico. The truth is that whether a visit is for tourism or for work, if people want to know Mexico and understand the riches that this country has, then you have to travel its roads.

The best way to see any country and particularly the charms of Mexico is by road.
Why Grupo Senda? Because we are the safest, most punctual transportation company, with the best network of transport services for passengers, students and workers in Mexico. If any company wants to come here and set up a plant and needs employees, there is no better option that ensures your workers arrive and leave so effectively, on time, and with quality service; nobody pays as much attention to detail as we do. For example, our buses have fewer seats than those of many of our competitors, providing extra legroom and therefore greater comfort.
The truth is that we are a company that can deliver turnkey services for companies coming here to open their production plants. We advise and help them decide where they should recruit people here or there, in order to help the company reduce its transportation costs – other operators do not provide that kind of service.

We are not dedicated to recruitment, but we can offer useful advice. We are dedicated to and are experts in moving people. In the personnel transport sector, we have clients such as Panasonic, Nemak, Walmart, 3M, Lego – major companies not only with a presence in Nuevo León but also in Coahuila and San Luis Potosí.
With regard to Nuevo León, I would say that it is the home of well-educated, hardworking, highly respectful, and self-assured people. 

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