How Ivo Skorin Came to Lead HPL-Apollo, an Enduring Presence in Perishables

How Ivo Skorin Came to Lead HPL-Apollo, an Enduring Presence in Perishables

In July 2018, HPL-Apollo celebrates the nine-year anniversary of the company’s launch (as Apollo freight).

Ivo Skorin got into the cargo business through a company called Fast Air that later became Lan Airlines, leader of the air cargo industry in Latin America.  

Originally based in Chile, where he was raised, Ivo first got into the cargo business with LAN cargo in 1994. He accepted a position with LAN in Paris, France, and relocated there in 2000. In 2002, the company moved him to Frankfurt, Germany, then Miami in 2003, and finally, Los Angeles in 2005.

At the time, Mercury had been awarded the cargo handler and GSA for LAN cargo.  As manager for the West Coast, this was also about the time that Ivo first crossed paths with Joe Czyzyk. Ivo continued working for LAN until 2009, when he came to a crossroads. “They asked me to return to Chile, but I loved Los Angeles, so I decided to stay,” Ivo said. He and Joe opted to have lunch and between them, they discussed a new business idea: a logistics business focused on perishables, things like fruit or flowers.

Ivo said he thinks he and Joe may have had the same idea about the business at about the same time.  A year prior, Mercury had built a cooler housed within one of its terminals to handle inbound perishables for LAN Cargo.  But the cooler wasn’t producing much of a profit for Mercury, Ivo said. For his part, in working with LAN, “I had a lot of customers that were bringing in perishables - flowers mainly -  and that's how I got to thinking about it,” he said.

No matter whose idea it was, Ivo said, one thing is for certain, “None of us knew how difficult it was going to be,” he said.

“The nature of the business, well, it’s kind of weird,” Ivo said. “Because it’s perishables, it’s very demanding: you have to be on top of your game, you can't make any mistakes, you're always rushing, because people who supply perishables, they can’t wait…the shelf life is so short, so it’s a lot of pressure to make it work all the time,” he said.

HPL-Apollo LogoIvo said there is also the added pressure to keep shipping costs down. “Our customers don’t have much return either,” he said. “You work in an industry that’s very demanding, in terms of your work, but also very demanding for keeping the cost down, and you have to be very competitive to make it work,” Ivo said.

Competitive as it may be, the business appears to be working out. In 2012, Apollo Freight joined forces with Hellman Worldwide Logistics and the company became the joint venture it is today, HPL Apollo. Today, HPL Apollo is one of the top three leading providers of logistics solutions for perishables, a fine feather in their cap considering most of the other companies have been in the business for nearly three decades.

Ivo attributes the company’s success to a variety of different factors, chief among them, the people who make up the company. “[They are] people who are hungry and are looking to keep growing,” he said. “It was just me at the beginning, and then I have been lucky to find other people who are not happy with the status quo. They keep trying to get more business and keep growing,” he said.

Additionally, Ivo says he has been fortunate to have Mercury and all of its resources, especially in California. “We’re also lucky to have Hellman as a global partner, and Joe,” he said. “I think Joe is a very savvy person.  He’s a great business man, and a kind of mentor. All those factors have contributed to our kind of success,” Ivo said.

When asked about his career choice, Ivo said he likes the challenge. “I don’t give up, and I don’t like to lose,” he said. “I like the industry, because it’s a global business, and I get to deal with people from around the globe,” Ivo said, and he enjoys that there are so many projects he finds himself involved in.

“I like that of the industry, I like that in my position I’m allowed to do new things, and be creative. That’s important for me,” Ivo said.

Although he was born and raised in Chile, Ivo’s family hails from Croatia. He lives with his wife, Paula and daughter, Mila, 7, in Los Angeles.

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