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Family run cargo firm retains its personal touch

Article - July 27, 2011
Starting from the ground up, Servientrega is more than a mere courier service
Servientrega is a true success story of hard work, dedication and sacrifice. It is a small cargo transport and logistics company that was built by a brother-sister team from the countryside who discovered an underserved niche in the market, and though they started with practically nothing, their company now boasts an international presence. Co-founder and president of Servientrega Mary Luz Guerrero recalls the initial days when they would get up at 4am to stand in line for the shared shower at the Bogota boarding house where they rented rooms.

“We traveled by foot because we couldn’t afford public transportation,” she says. “We would personally pick up deliveries and send them to their destination, where we had contacts that would pick them up and take them to our clients. We financed our company through loan sharks, pawn houses and our own savings because we didn’t qualify for a loan from the financial system.”

Once business started to pick up, Miss Guerrero and her brother, Jesus, bought a small vehicle to make deliveries, and then eventually leased a small fleet of vehicles. With time, they expanded to Cali, Medellin and Barranquilla.

Advertising was done via word of mouth at neighborhood parties, flyers, microphones, and any other basic communication means available. “A sort of magic began to grow around Servientrega,” says Miss Guerrero, and thus business boomed.

“Servientrega is a family business, maybe that is why we are so close to our people, to our clients. We are an extended family, not a cold and exclusive company where the executive level is distanced from the rest of the employees. On the contrary, our closeness, our warmth and our teamwork distinguish us,” claims Miss Guerrero.

“We have a succession plan so that our people’s legacy may be multiplied by every collaborator that works with future generations in preparing them to embrace new challenges inside the organization whether it is in Colombia or in any other country.”
Today, Servientrega manages most of Colombia’s express deliveries, including documents, merchandise, and valuables, and also provides storage, in-company solutions, and an international moving service. Servientrega’s Global Box is a unique service that allows clients to send their documents, merchandise and Internet purchases to Global Box’s physical address in Miami, from where Servientrega then forwards it on to the client’s destination.

The Colombian company has already consolidated itself at home and abroad in countries including Ecuador, Venezuela and Peru. Its business model in Panama has been so successful that the Guerrero team plans to copy it in Brazil and the rest of Central America. “For Panama to keep on growing, we need to be present in the rest of the region; it is a two-way business,” explains the company president.

Plans for the business include a continuation of the restructuring of the company’s infrastructure, maintaining ownership and control over one part and outsourcing the rest. “This makes it possible for us to be more flexible and light, guaranteeing short and long-term self-sufficiency, capacity and security,” she adds. “We now move our operations with absolute liberty, sharing part of our space with our national and international colleagues. This has undoubtedly been a positive move that has given us strength and independence in the region.”

Servientrega is also committed to helping fellow Colombians in need, especially in areas the government is unable to cover. The Guerrero siblings created the Successful Women Foundation (Fundacion Mujeres de Exito) to help involve women in science, politics and culture, improving their quality of life. The company also founded the Give Yourself to Colombia Corporation (Corporacion Entregate a Colombia), which promotes the founding of new businesses by offering training.

Miss Guerrero says other initiatives include the Giving Festival to encourage ecological consumption, and the Giving Philosophy, in which Servientrega delivers “lives, dreams, love, ideas, businesses, and hopes. This is the true essence of any package we deliver.”