Shell Oil to centralize Latin American operations in Miami
By Frank Norton
Shell Oil Co. announced Tuesday it will centralize all Latin America branding and communications functions in Miami-Dade County.
The company, which recently laid off hundreds of employees throughout Latin America, has started staffing executives from the Dominican Republic and elsewhere at its new location at Airport West's Waterford at Blue Lagoon office park, said Angie Brito-NuŅez, a company spokesperson based in the Dominican Republic.
She said Shell plans to invest $575,000 in property and equipment and add about 30 fulltime jobs within three years at the new 6,000-square-foot office. A combination of local hires and relocated workers will fill most of the positions within a year, she said.
"We had tremendous management issues operating as clusters, or independent units, throughout Latin America," Ms. Brito-NuŅez said.
The company, part of the Royal Dutch/Shell Group, operated as Condor Ltd. in Venezuela and Shell Caribbean & Central America Ltd. in other regions, but failed to reap economies of scale in branding and distribution, she said.
As a result, the global petroleum and natural gas seller is consolidating functions such as marketing, sales and communications in Miami, Buenos Aires and Sao Paolo.
In Miami, for example, former Dominican Republic-based executives, Patricia Ferreria and Pablo Portes have already started laying the groundwork for centralized branding for Latin America.
"It's like joining forces," said Ms. Brito-NuŅez. "We are now one company delivering one set of client services to one Latin America, via the new command and control consol in Miami."
She said the company chose Miami for its geographic proximity, diverse business network and international flights connecting Europe and Latin America. Shell did not previously have offices in South Florida.
"It also helps that we have agreements with hotel chains operating in Miami," she said, meaning traveling employees could benefit from corporate rates.
According to the Beacon Council, which helped Shell secure a $120,000 tax incentive from the state and county, the company chose the Waterford office park for affordability and proximity to the airport.
"The locations offers great access to Miami International, which is important since a lot of these sales and marketing employees must travel a good deal," said Carlos Leonard, senior vice president of business development at the Beacon Council, the county's economic development agency.
"From now on they will basically manage all marketing, sales and administrative operations for Latin America from Miami," he said. "They're not calling it headquarters, but that's basically what it is, at least for those functions."
The company, which operates in more than 130 countries and employs more than 100,000 people worldwide, will continue to supply major commercial-aviation, marine and retail markets in Latin America via the Shell Oil name.
The company's US operations will continue to be handled out of Houston.