25 YEARS BUILDING SOLID RELATIONS BASED ON MODERN FUNDAMENTALS
One of the first priorities which the Lagendijk brothers conveyed unto me when we were setting up an agency structure in Colombia, back in late 93, was very clear: “We want a first class agency”.
It is difficult to judge whether we have obtained this along the years since there is a wider cultural and age recipients of our service, whose perception and priorities also change over time. However, to have reached 25 years is definitely a landmark to be proud of, but most important, a true motivation to recharge batteries and continue decisively to look into the future.
Early on I realized that in order to implement successfully any kind of “first class agency” delivering first class service, we needed to invest in our primary resource: our people. And we set for this with great impetus programming continued and systemic training sessions in motivational, leadership and ethical aspects, as well as technical aspects related to our operations. We needed to create a trustable culture of service oriented people, and I am glad that to a great extend the people have responded and matured such concept: their willingness to stay and grow with us, their dedication to keep a friendly atmosphere and to participate in collateral activities are indicators that we have walked along the right path. Many also have left to other horizons, and I receive regular updates of their developments and appreciation for their time at LBH Colombia.
The next subject in our quest towards a first class agency, has been heavy investment in technological infrastructure and innovation, as new programs and softwares became available, and with our open policy of “all ideas are welcome, just support them”. We have not rested in developing tools to make the lives of our customers as easy as possible, sometimes we failed, but many times we have succeeded. We appreciate when customers indicated certain preferences with which we can personalize our services and value proposition back to them. For this reason, investment in technology will continue to be a major part of our yearly budget.
Procedures, disciplines, transparency, compliance and safety in all aspects of our interaction with the maritime world and port industry have also occupied a priority to strengthen our first class agency concept. At the beginning, this aspect was almost exclusively related to fighting against the tough environment and risks existing in Colombia´s north coast (such as guerrilla warfare, drug smuggling), but as the company grew and the country became safer, and as the customers became more demanding, and the government pressed for safer jobs, we realized this had to be taken to a different dimension. We have an HSEQ leader and even though the name of his post was formalized last year, he has been in charge leading this function for more than 5 years, successfully driving thru the road towards the certifications we now enjoy.
We are aware that none of above is guarantee for us to continue at the top of the leadership in the ship agency business in Colombia. The modern world shows challenges quite different from those of our beginnings, when we were identified as Eurolatina Shipping&Chartering. We are therefore adapting to new competition circumstances and new market opportunities. It is like running a no-ends marathon and we know that to keep our structure at the top of the pack, we must prepare “iron-man participants” in our team.
ON behalf of the entire LBH Colombia team, I want to thank first of all my partners, Jan and Bert Lagendijk, for making Colombia part of their global vision and for their trust in our ability to execute and deliver; I also want to thank to all our service providers, who have supplied the ships under our agency with unquestionable top service along all these years, and have tolerated many meetings, reviews and feedback about their service; of course, thank you also to our people, those who joined and left and those who joined and stayed, for their efforts and cooperation gave this company the thrust to reached this far; and finally, I want to thank you all our customers who doubtless helped us built, support after support, visit after visit, phone call after phone call, this structure as it is known today, whether your support has come by way of loyalty principles, contracts or spot/rotational ships assignments. For us all of you are equally important, and we can only be thankful by committing and dedicating all our efforts towards continued improvements ideas that reflects on a direct benefit for your own work demands, and thus helping your decision making process.
Thank you for sharing with us the moment and look forward to the next 25 years, as we begin to prepare new generations to take on the marathon ahead.