GPS Company Positioning Itself in Costa Rica

May 2, 2008

Gerardo Calix needed a way to protect his truck drivers after one of his crew was the victim of a roadside robbery along Honduras’ Santa Barbara highway and left alone for four hours, an unfortunately common event in that Central American country.

Calix, logistics manager for World Vision Honduras, researched at least four companies that provide global tracking services for fleets and settled on Protektor GPS Systems. Six months since buying the units,World Vision now has 90% of its fleet equipped with global tracking devices.

“(The GPS systems) have had a very good impact from the point of view of security,” Calix said.

Protektor is based in Honduras, where it has sold 1,500 units in the three years since its creation. Now the company is staking out territory in Costa Rica. Since last December, Roberto Alegría and his business partners, who have an office now in Heredia, north of San José, have been pitching their product to local companies interested in tracking their fleets.

GPS stands for “global positioning system,” which employs satellites to pinpoint a position.

Marketing a GPS product in Costa Rica requires a different emphasis.

“(In Honduras), it’s more for security reasons that they buy it,” Alegría said. “In Costa Rica, it’s not so much for security, but (for) making the company more efficient.”

Alegría would not say which local companies are warming to his product, but he assured that “they are the biggest in Costa Rica” – some with 300 to 500 trucks each.

The company’s GPS units are assembled all around the world, ranging from China to the United States and India. Although personal and car units are available, the GPS systems designed for trucks are the most popular among clients.

Increasing security and keeping track of World Vision’s fleet were two reasons Calix said his nongovernmental humanitarian organization installed GPS systems on their trucks.

No matter where he is, Calix said he has an eye on his fleet. The real time travel of each vehicle is plotted on a Google Earth map from origin to destination. Calix can also ensure drivers are traveling at a normal speed, keeping them in line through his virtual connection.

Should any hiccup surface along the route, the driver presses a panic button installed in the vehicle. Within 20 seconds, a text message including the number of the vehicle is sent to Calix, who contacts colleagues and local police for assistance.

Protektor has helped crack some robbery cases in the past.

“Last year we had about 10 or 12 different cases (in Honduras) where we recovered the truck and we also recovered the merchandise – all of it within 12 hours,” Alegría said.

One of the keys to the company’s success, according to Alegría, is that no one knows where the systems are installed on the vehicle. Not even the owner.

“It’s for their own benefit not to know where it is,” Alegría said.

He explained that drivers could slip – if threatened – and let a hijacker know the whereabouts of the GPS system. If that information is kept secret, Protektor has a greater likelihood of helping owners recover their vehicles.

Prices vary for Protektor’s units, but buying in bulk has its benefits. Alegría said one unit could cost $370, while 100 units would come in at $320 apiece.

Calix said he shopped around and found Protektor among the best-priced systems available.

“Up until now, I haven’t had any complaints,” Calix said.

 

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