Issue - March/April 2022

LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN

Cooperation and Company Culture in Colombia

By Andrea Gartner Cala, Director of Marketing and Public Relations, Intramar

Like all businesses in the international moving industry during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Intramar has experienced many months filled with daunting challenges, obstacles, restrictions, and immense uncertainty. However, despite all the difficulties, we have moved forward demonstrating our resilience and conviction. To cope with the crisis, we have worked tirelessly and have made many sacrifices. We were also forced to further develop our skills to an extent that we never dared to imagine before. Those additional efforts allowed us to carry on delivering value to our customers and allies in Colombia and the world.


For some months in Colombia, the moving business services and corresponding revenue streams were brought to a bare minimum. Not only were there migration restrictions and travel bans, which paralyzed international moving operations, but there were also countless local constraints regarding mobility, transportation, capacity of people within places, and all events that implied human contact (e.g., packing and unpacking, loading and unloading, sales meetings, surveys, etc.).


Very strict and rigorous infection prevention protocols were implemented here, hindering our activities and resulting in various extra costs (e.g., protection equipment, sanitizers, cleaning products and services, etc.). Later on, throughout the year 2021, there were also worker strikes and blockages nationwide, along with the negative impact of the global supply chain crisis, complicating the situation of the industry in Colombia even more.


In this highly complex context, there were three key success factors that empowered us to overcome hurdles and achieve growth: prioritizing our human capital, adopting cooperative dynamics with stakeholders, and reinforcing our organization’s internal culture.


Firstly, in spite of the financial challenges, we decided to retain and support our talented staff. This created an internal collaboration network of people where resourcefulness, creativity, effort, and leadership proliferated. Our teams motivated us to reinvent ourselves every day and to strategize how we could overcome hardship, allowing many bright ideas to arise and address each specific issue. These times proved us that in unity there is strength.


Secondly, instead of focusing on fierce economic competition with other moving companies and on cost optimization by putting pressure on suppliers, we decided to adopt a cooperative approach by creating either temporary or long-term strategic partnerships. Aggressive bargaining with third parties was replaced by mutual benefit commitments and balanced relationships. The idea was to help each other out—even with competitors—to ensure that the client would get the best service possible.


Thirdly, we reinforced our internal purpose and culture. We systematically communicated and emphasized the fact that both in our role as service providers and in our role as consumers, we are seeking to positively impact society. We instilled in our people the concept of “total responsibility” on a daily basis. Therefore, Intramar has become an organization that promotes corporate responsibility, and that intends to contribute to high-stakes global issues and trends, such as the protection of the environment and the promotion of social equity.


In short, the organization as a whole came to the profound realization that its efforts to improve must always stem from the inspiration that the best companies in the industry and the world spark together with the genuine desire to provide a valuable service, as opposed to just making profit and gaining market share with the intention to beat competitors. 


These efforts and initiatives were all celebrated by our clients, reaffirming their loyalty. They witnessed firsthand our honest will to improve and offer them the best of ourselves, and we were rewarded not only by the fact that we could continue operating, growing, and diversifying our services, but also through recognition by the Latin American Quality Institute—the largest organization in terms of quality standards in Latin America—as Colombian company of the year for 2021 representing our industry. We welcome our readers to work with us so that you can experience the adventure of this narrative for yourself. We look forward to a long and lasting relationship.