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TRACTEC

COLOMBIA - Transport

Juan Felipe Acevedo Moreno

Corporate Manager, Tractec

Bio

Juan Felipe Acevedo Moreno, a dedicated professional in the industrial and transportation sectors, holds an industrial engineering degree from Universidad Javeriana, a negotiation specialization from Universidad de los Andes, and an MBA from Hult Business School in Boston. Serving as the Corporate Manager of TRACTEC and CEO of TRACTEC USA, a renowned heavy-duty transport equipment manufacturer in Colombia and soon in the USA, he led the company to be recognized as one of the most innovative companies in Colombia by ANDI for six consecutive years, in 2020 he develops the first electric cargo vehicle in LATAM, and TRACTEC is highlighted by Forbes among the top 25 SMEs companies in Colombia.

TBY talks to Juan Felipe Acevedo Moreno, Corporate Manager of Tractec. What economic and social impact has the company registered in Colombia? Tractec has been operating in Colombia for 21 […]
TBY talks to Juan Felipe Acevedo Moreno, Corporate Manager of Tractec.
What economic and social impact has the company registered in Colombia?

Tractec has been operating in Colombia for 21 years, however is a sister company of Coltrailer, a company with more than 50 years of experience in transportation equipment, collaborating closely with logistics companies, both large and small transportation firms. Our focus shifted toward developing innovative products, and beyond innovation, the significant impact for our customers is cost savings. With our advanced technology, they can transport 5-6% more compared to using outdated equipment, enhancing Colombia’s competitiveness. Despite Colombia’s challenging topography, we successfully pioneered the development of this technology locally, enabling us to export our equipment globally. The journey wasn’t easy; overcoming the misconception that merely changing the steel of trailers would suffice proved to be a significant hurdle, almost jeopardizing our company a couple of years ago; however, our perseverance has paid off, marking our success today. Our primary goal is to improve Colombia’s logistics index, achieved through providing lightweight trailers. By reusing 11,000kg of CO2 emissions per trailer, we have a substantial environmental impact. With the capacity to manufacture approximately 11,200 trailers per year , the positive effects are noteworthy. Advocating for governmental action, we urge Colombia to consider replacing old transportation equipment. With a light truck and trailer, we can carry around 4,000kg more than standard equipment, contributing to an 8% improvement in this regard.

How did Tractec become the first Colombian company to produce electric trucks?

Starting our project in collaboration with ANDI, National Business Association , presented considerable challenges. As members, we received economic support from the government, enabling us to pioneer the development of the first electric cargo vehicles in Latin America. Personally, residing in Bogotá for seven years, I have observed the escalating traffic and declining air quality. Our commitment is to address these issues by contributing to a sustainable solution, utilizing our technological capabilities to manufacture electric cars locally. Engaging with the UN’s program for the production automobile parts in Colombia proved beneficial, garnering support for our project. We have identified around 80 potential suppliers for electric cars in Colombia, emphasizing our capability not just in assembly but also in the complete car-making process; however, challenges persist, particularly in securing assistance for the development of batteries. While Tractec boasts the highest exportation indexes in Colombia for trailers, our significant past success in exporting over 150 trucks to Venezuela faced setbacks due to political complications. And while we remain in discussions to re-enter the Venezuelan market, the road ahead is challenging. We also export to Mexico, a market of substantial opportunities driven by significant investors and companies exporting to the US. Meanwhile, our role extends beyond trailer exports, as we provide petroleum equipment to companies in Mexico. While we manufacture trailers for transportation companies, we also develop petroleum equipment locally, exporting it to Central America. This not only supports our customers but also offers a cost advantage of around 50% compared to the US, showcasing the economic benefits of our operations in Colombia.

Are you planning to expand your facilities?

Yes. We want to have more robotics technology. We trust in technology and we have excellent technology and software to design trailers, for example. We will be more focused on robotics in this forth industrial revolution, and this is the way we intend to reduce costs. We find ourselves in a highly competitive position versus US companies, but we aim to become increasingly competitive. The first thing that I need to ask myself is, can our trailers work on US highways? The answer is yes. We have tested our products and they work. We have the same suppliers as US companies. Many, such as European steel companies, are active in Colombia, and our labor costs are lower than US costs.

How does Tractec educate and build trust with clients?

It is a difficult task. For example, Colombian customers are very different from their North American counterparts because a small transportation company in Colombia looks for a low price for a product, versus North American customers who seek high quality. Regarding our lighter trailer, we must educate customers of our approach, which involves a reduced thickness of steel. Customers may initially believe that this reduces structural integrity, preferring existing versions. It is difficult to convince them otherwise. We have been working on this for nine years now, and our efforts continue. Meanwhile, in North America, all trailers are made with this type of steel, so we don’t have to deal with this mindset change. We also export a lot of equipment to Central America, Ecuador, and Brazil, which was a great challenge, given the sheer size of Brazil’s industry and market. We need to develop a wider range of industries in Colombia because North America is facing a labor shortage. We have talent in Colombia for skillsets such as welding, combined with a high unemployment rate. We have talked with the government to express our wish to export to the US, but what we really require is diplomatic, rather than financial support.

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