A World of Efficiency

The founder of supply chain-services firm Global 4PL describes the approach behind his success by Julie Edwards

Sergio Retamal - Version 2
Sergio Retamal, President and Founder, Global 4PL

When he was 16, Sergio Retamal worked as a purchasing assistant for his family’s small business in Chile. Today, he is CEO of California-based Global4PL, a supply chain-solutions provider. “When I immigrated to the United States, I worked a few odd jobs while I learned to speak English and function professionally,” he says. Retamal always knew he wanted to work for himself and own a business, but he needed to prepare to compete in what would be the most competitive market in the world.

At the start of his career, Retamal was hired as an import analyst for a company in California. “The company operated as understaffed as possible, which allowed me to expand my job scope from import to export, trade management, warehousing, and operations in less than a year,” he recalls. To complement his work skills, Retamal furthered his education, receiving a bachelor’s degree and an MBA in international business from California State University and an master’s degree in change management from Pepperdine University. He spent 10 years working for larger corporations—mostly companies with manufacturing in Asia and global distribution.

Work involved extensive travel and extended stays in Asia, which provided valuable experience. He established key business relationships and came to understand the supply chain business inside and out. “I realized the scarcity of solutions to support merge-in-transit initiatives,” he says. “This encouraged me to set out to develop software that could support these operations, which eventually led to the creation of Global4PL and our proprietary, POHorizon supply chain software.”

“We enable our clients’ top-line growth strategy as they enter new markets, region by region, country by country. Along the way, we help them avoid costly trade compliance errors and the associated penalties,” Retamal says. “We also generate substantial supply chain cost savings to help our clients’ bottom line. In addition, we design and deliver holistic, end-to-end supply chain solutions—including differentiated supply chain delivery models tailored to our clients’ true needs—and a fully transparent and aligned sales and operations planning process.” Global4PL has boots on the ground in the United States, Asia, Latin America, and Europe for region-specific expertise.

What sets Global4PL apart from the competition is the array of services it offers. “We have a suite of services that are plug-and-play in support of companies that want to grow internationally,” Retamal says, “from consulting, managing the complete supply chain, customs brokerage, transportation-management services, and trade-law services. We develop software that will ensure your trade compliance as well as the visibility of your orders and raw supply. We provide on-site personnel to support and run operations, as well as the in-country support needed to be successful overseas.” Retamal’s clients can count on an array of different skills and resources working simultaneously to keep them cost efficient and compliant.

A typical Global4PL client is either a fast-growing high-tech company that wants help setting up international operations from scratch or a company with a solid international footing that wants to expand in countries such as Brazil or India. “Brazil has up to 110-percent duties and taxes on imports. Companies try to undervalue their products to pay less tax—then the government catches them and fines them,” Retamal says. “Our people know the rules and we have controls in the system so paperwork isn’t changed. Using our services, you can avoid getting hit with a heavy fine.”

When working with its customers, Global4PL becomes part of the customer’s team. Retamal says he is able to spur surprising growth in a sometimes-unfriendly business environment by putting efficiency first. As an example, Global4PL was pivotal in modifying the supply chain footprint and global strategy of a large telecommunications manufacturer. “Meeting with local government officials and their contract manufacturers—and conducting packaging redesign, among other initiatives—resulted in 53-percent overall costs savings,” Retamal confirms.

The president and founder feels he has hit a home run with Global 4PL. “I’ve certainly had my share of failures, but they have helped me arrive where I am today,” Retamal says regarding what it takes to find success as an entrepreneur. “My thing is efficiency—not because it’s faster or cheaper, but because efficient companies thrive longer, grow, and hire more people, which means that more people can provide for their families and their community.”