MCALLEN, Texas – Entrepreneur Joaquin Spamer has drawn up a plan that will allow his import-export logistics company, Commodities Integrated Logistics, to continue and prosper once he retires.
The plan involves changing CIL’s corporate structure by inviting outside business men and women to join a new board of directors. In an exclusive interview with the Rio Grande Guardian International News Service, Spamer said he wants to make sure his 300-plus employees are looked after.
Spamer hastened to add that he is not retiring just yet from the award-winning company he founded 30 years ago.
“We are inviting outside directors and redoing the whole corporate structure. We are setting it up so that CIL does not depend on Joaquin Spamer. So, if I need to retire for any reason the company is going to be able to exist without me or my family getting involved,” Spamer said.
“We are trying to ensure that all the employees, all the banks, all the customers, all the franchisees, that they all have security with the business regardless of whether I or my family are involved. We have 320 employes. I want to make sure that if something happens to me their job security is not at risk.”
Spamer gave his brief interview at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for six new hangars that have been built at Mid-Valley Airport in Weslaco. Spamer’s private jet is based there.
Spamer said he could not speak for long because he had to rush off to deal with the start of the Rio Grande Valley cotton season.
“We send Valley cotton to various countries around the world: China, Pakistan, Turkey, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Peru, South Korea. Those are the major destination points. Valley cotton is going to those countries and all over the place,” Spamer explained.
“And it is going through Mexico. If it is going to Pakistan and Turkey it goes through the port at Altamira. If it is going to Asia it goes through Manzanillo and Lazaro Cardenas, mainly Manzanillo. We move 4,500 containers of Valley cotton during the season. We truck the cotton to Monterrey, and then it put on rail and take it to the various sea ports.”
Spamer started his business in July 1992 by building a 22,000 square foot warehouse in the city of Hidalgo. Back then the company was known as Century Forwarding Agency.
Fast forward 30 years and CIL celebrated the milestone with a series of events in McAllen and Mission. These included an evening mixer at Spamer’s Klub Nautique on the banks of the Rio Grande in Mission. That was followed the next day with a convention at the McAllen Convention Center. Economists, academics and import-expert specialists covered topics like the U.S. and Mexican economies, international trade and how to do cross-border business. A banquet which drew an audience of VIPs was held at the same location that evening. And, on day three of the 30th Anniversary celebrations, a golf tournament was held at Champion Lakes in McAllen.
At the banquet Spamer spoke briefly about the history of CIL. However, he spoke in more depth about the future. He focused on three new aspects of CIL: its governance, a new technology component; and new franchising opportunities for those who want to get into the import-export industry.
In our interview in Weslaco, the Guardian asked about CIL’s new technology offshoot and the franchise concept.
“We have started a company called CIL Technologies. We have been working for two years trying to get the program finished. It is a program that is fully integrated, that covers all aspects of cross-border logistics, from door to door. There is nothing on the market like this. We developed it for ourselves and for our franchisees,” Spamer explained.
“We have it all together. The new franchisees will have access to all of our resources. That is the idea. With a small fee for the franchise, they can open up their own business right now, anywhere in Mexico, and start doing cross-border, door to door deliveries with our own infrastructure.”
Asked if there is a growing demand for import-export services between Mexico and the United States due to the USMCA trade agreement, Spamer answered affirmatively.
“Definitely. There is a huge demand right now and there is a demand for solutions not just for large companies, but for medium and small e-commerce businesses. That is what we are tapping into.”
At the banquet, Spamer had spoken about the whole logistics world being turned on its head by the pandemic and the stampede towards e-commerce.
Spamer was asked about this during the brief interview in Weslaco. “We are trying to take advantage of the new situation and I think it is going to be a great value added to our services, that we can solve issues not only for big customers but for medium and small customers as well,” Spamer said.
CIL’s first franchisee is based in Morelia, Michoacán. More are on the way, Spamer said, proudly.
“Our first franchisee is in Morelia and we are working on another two. We have had great success. We have had a lot of interest. We have a great team working on these prospects and we hope to have three franchises open by the end of 2023. Our target is 70 franchisees.”
The audience in the banquet comprised Spamer’s friends and clients. He noted that many of his clients have become good friends over the years. He acknowledged that his customs brokerage, warehousing, transportation, and logistics business had benefited from the increased U.s.-Mexico trade that NAFTA and USMCA have brought about.
“Our mission has always been to facilitate international commerce for our clients, with the sole objective of making sure that our processes offers our clients a competitive edge in the market,” Spamer said in his remarks from the stage.
Speaking of the disruption to the supply chain caused by the pandemic and the rise of e-commerce companies, Spamer said: “Everything is changing. In the past few years, everything that you thought you knew about logistics has changed. Everything is complicated.”
He noted that one can buy almost anything online these days. “You can buy houses, trips, and anything you want online. I like to consider myself in the new Amazon generation.”
So, what added value can CIL bring to the market, Spamer asked, rhetorically. He gave an example of a small manufacturer of tables in Mexico that wants to sell online. How does that company make the sale and the delivery?
“Who, out there, is servicing that small manufacturer in delivering those products all over the U.S.? If your products are too big for UPS, you cannot play in the e-commerce business,” Spamer said, noting that CIL plans to address that.
And, speaking of his new logistics software program, Spamer said he had gathered a “very strong team of programmers in Monterrey” and that they had produced a single, integrated system that can handle all of the documentation needed for importing and exporting.
Couple this program with the franchise opportunities CIL is introducing and a new dynamic comes into play, Spamer claimed. “This empowers the entrepreneur to open up a logistics business from one day to the next,” he said.
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